After sneaking out for an early meet-and-greet over the weekend, the ASUS PadFone mini has been given a proper introduction today. ASUS officially took the wraps off of its newest smartphone-and-tablet-docking combo at an event in Taiwan today, showing off a handset with a 4.3-inch 960x540 display that can slide into the backside of an accompanying tablet, which packs its own 7-inch 1280x800 display in addition to a 2200mAh battery.
Diving deeper into ASUS's contribution to the mini smartphone craze, we can see that it's powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB RAM, dual-SIM support and a 1500mAh battery. Also buried inside is shell is 16GB storage that can be supplemented using its microSD slot. The PadFone mini runs Android 4.3 beneath a custom ASUS overlay that includes tweaks like Owl Mode for the phone's 8-megapixel camera, which ASUS says combines four sensor pixels into one to offer improved light sensitivity.
The PadFone mini is slated to launch in China, Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia at a price tag of NT$11,990 ($405 USD). That's a good deal cheaper than the PadFone Infinity, which debuted in September with a 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core Snapdragon 800 chipset and NT$18,990 ($641 USD) price. The lower price tag of the PadFone mini isn't surprising given its more modest feature set, but it's also a welcome sight because it creates an affordable PadFone option for consumers that are shopping for a unique device that won't mangle their wallets.
In other PadFone news, it sounds like ASUS's tablet-docking wonder may soon be getting an official launch in the U.S. ASUS CEO Jerry Shen has revealed to Engadget that his company is planning to bring a high-end PadFone product stateside in Q2 2014 as part of a partnership with a "very big" U.S. carrier. Unsurprisingly, Shen didn't offer up any details about the device or operator.
Some of ASUS's previous PadFone devices has been available for purchase in the U.S. through online retailers and importers, but we've yet to see an official release on any operator. Not only is it good to learn that PadFone availability will be expanding, but because it's not often that we see manufacturers bring their more unique smartphone designs to the U.S., it's exciting to learn that ASUS intends to do things differently and give U.S. consumers a chance to pick up its dockable creation.