Why buy the Padfone, when you can have the Fonepad?

Published: February 26, 2013

We just wrapped up Day 2 of Mobile World Congress and there are plenty of new tablets to choose from, especially if you're looking to get rid of your smartphone. The latest trend in mobile is to give tablets complete phone functionality by allowing them to pick up cellular frequencies. Though it might sound illogical at first, manufacturers are full steam ahead in consolidating your devices, which, I presume means we should be more productive. But, I'm not convinced.

Success shouldn't be awarded for good intentions, and tablet-phone hybrid devices like the Asus Padfone Infinity and Asus Fonepad are sure to be tested before accepted.

For starters, the Padfone Infinity has always been a wildcard for Asus. You'd think the first Motorola Atrix and its laptop dock would be enough of a warning for Asus to rethink the entire concept. Since Asus' first Padfone smartphone and Transformer tablet, they have been on a mission. With the new Padfone Infinity, the mission hasn't change much. It's still a smartphone with some killer specs to back it up and it still turns into a big smartphone when you plug it into the backside of the tablet.

So, what do you use the Padfone Infinity for, you ask? That idea hasn't changed either. Use it whenever you prefer a 10.1-inch Full HD display over the 5-inch Full HD smartphone display. Asus just upped the specifications to make sure the experience is no longer inhibited by last-generation's hardware. This year, the Padfone Infinity hums along with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 quad-core CPU clocked at 1.7GHz. As mentioned, the screen of the smartphone also grew to 5-inches and boasts a pixel density of 441, while the tablet now sports Full HD resolution as well. To top it off, the batteries in the smartphone and tablet have grown to maximize whatever it is that you plan to do on a 10.1-inch smartphone (when docked).

However, I don't dock Asus for the effort with the Padfone+tablet concept. It has cornered the market and Asus would be my main choice to take on the concept. Since the first Asus Transformer and laptop dock, I've known that there is functionality in combining the two concepts. The laptop dock added value and nearly eliminated all of the Transformer's shortcomings in tablet-form.

My gripe with the Asus of today is not their concepts. I'm sold on the idea and choices are always good. I thoroughly appreciate the effort and hope Asus continues with the concept. My problem with the Padfone is the Fonepad.

What'chu talkin' 'bout, Asus?

Asus just reintroduced itself...and reintroduced its wealth (Name that song!) as a company more focused on productivity rather than rationality. Because, let's be honest here, the Fonepad doesn't make sense from the moment you say Fonepad.

Asus is like the James Bond of mobile tech, swiftly targeting competitors with unconventional tactics and wit. We didn't need a smartphone that turned into a tablet-smartphone, yet they're onto something with the Fonepad. Even Samsung is following suit with the Galaxy Note 8.0 (albeit without the smaller phone docking part of the equation). Dare I say Samsung learned from Asus with the Padfone which drove the idea of phone connectivity in tablet-form?

There's a lot to like with the Asus Fonepad as long as you can get by its name. For instance, the price. At $249 Asus is proposing value with no peer. They're making competitors look downright greedy. On one hand, productivity on a larger screen will be a preferred route for some. And on the other, the price brings smartphone features to those who can't afford to "go smaller" in the traditional sense of a smartphone. It's a value proposition that is highly commendable and I think Asus has the potential to capitalize with some solid marketing. That is assuming Asus can get through the criticism of its device's name.

Internally, the Asus Fonepad has the same 7-inch WXGA LED Backlight IPS panel on the Eee Pad MeMo, and Nexus 7. However, the backside of the device is now a brushed aluminum instead of the durable and tactile rubber gracing the former models, which I prefer. It also swaps the Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU in favor of an Intel Atom Z2420 single core CPU clocked at 1.2GHz capable of acquiring GSM, HSPA+ (21Mbps) bands.

However, it's not all fine and dandy for Asus yet. The Fonepad is essentially the Asus Eee Pad MeMo which is also the Google Nexus 7, also an Eee Pad MeMo (and now, a Fonepad, too). Seriously, what a value proposition, Asus. This is where Asus needs to come clean. Drop the Fonepad-Padfone knick-knack naming convention. Not only is it elementary and uninventive, it's unnecessary and unwieldy to ask of the tongue.

I'm incapable of convincing myself to buy a device that I feel foolish describing. I'm not buying wine, so why do I feel just as weird explaining the differences between the Fonepad and Padfone Infinity. Likewise, the Padfone Infinity has much at stake when compared to the Fonepad. Why on Earth would Asus feel it's necessary to release two devices with similar names, similar functions, at the same time, with an $800 price difference? To top it off, if you have a smartphone, what reason do you have to consider the Padfone and tablet combo? The Fonepad is the clear winner and I can't help but think Asus just killed the Padfone Infinity in the process.

Padfone, not Fonepad, reader. Shaken, not stirred, either, Dear Reader.

What do you think of the Fonepad? Do you think Asus is starting the big and cheap smartphone trend? What do you think the future holds for the Padfone Infinity? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments below!

Image via CNET and GSMarena.

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