Android / Asus / Intel / Qualcomm

MWC 2013 (Part Two): ASUS brings on the woo and the “weird”.

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As most you have already read my previous blog highlighting the ASUS Padfone 2, this should be familiar territory. But from what ASUS brought to the table for MWC, despite my preparedness, ASUS still landed a doozy in terms of woo and weirdness. So lets take a look at what kinds of ASUS devices will start circulating in the coming quarter.

1. ASUS Padfone Infinity

ASUS has continued its “Transformations” ideology and brought a refreshed version of this device or combination of devices if that’s what you want to call it (quite honestly it is hard to categorize this device, so let’s just leave it at that).

Just like the previous generation, the Padfone Infinity is a bumped up version of the Padfone 2, with every feature upgraded, including the tablet shells (which is definitely a good thing). Check this video out for a tour of the device.

Lets start of with the phone first. Asus has always been known for its impressive and unique build quality and there’s no exception here. And much like the HTC One, they have dropped plastic for brushed aluminum which ASUS claims is the same material used in Aircraft hulls (fancy stuff). And boy is it a beauty! I’m definitely torn between the design of the HTC One and this slab of tech.

ASUS has also bumped the processor to Qualcomm’s snapdragon 600 SoC, which, from my previous post about the HTC One, basically wipes the floor with anything else on a mobile device currently available (don’t worry, we’re keeping an eye on Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i, and we will definitely look at comparing them when they come on to mobile devices). The usual bells and whistles come as well, the 5 inch 1080p display, in this case, utilizing Sharp IGZO technology. Apparently not as bright as the Padfone 2 (450 nits), but close (A little over 400 nits: I’m guessing this concession was made to balance out the extra power required to drive all those added pixels on the new display panel.) On the back of course they have the 5 element – 13 mega pixel camera.

Now, the tablet shell: As with the phone, the tablet shell got its resolution bumped up to 1920×1200 from the previous 1280×800. Definitely a welcome change. Again, as usual, the shell does not have its own processing power and gets its guts from the phone once its inserted into the shell. The shell itself has a 1MP front-facing camera and a 5000mAh battery which recharges the phone’s battery once the phone is inserted, thereby increasing the effective usage time of the phone. Build quality, again, is top notch.

Okay. So we’ve covered the “wow”. Now to cover the “weird”

2. ASUS FonePad

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In the past year or so, we have seen smartphones get bigger with screen sizes getting larger and larger. With the Galaxy Note, the envelope of the maximum acceptable smartphone screen size was pushed, albeit quite successfully. Sales of the original Galaxy Note and subsequently the Note 2 have proven that large screen smartphones are here to stay. But it is also true that tablets on the other end of the spectrum, have started to shrink and smaller tablets have found themselves a very successful spot in the market too as can be seen with devices like the Nexus 7, the Nook, and of course the trail blazer of this form factor: the Kindle Fire.

As the smartphone and tablet form factors converge, it is becoming increasingly hard to draw a line where one device can undeniably be differentiated from the other. At MWC this year, the lines have just gotten more blurred. It was generally considered, until now, that a device with a 7″ screen is definitely not something you put close to your face to make calls with, but ASUS has decided that it is okay to do so with the FonePad. ASUS claims there is demand for such a device. I’m not quite sure. If you’re having a bit of a hard time picturing this, think of the Nexus 7 and then think about holding it to your face to make calls with, as the ASUS FonePad is basically the same dimensions of this device.

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Personally, I think this has crossed the limits of what an acceptable smartphone size can be. But then again, a lot of people mocked the Galaxy Note when it was first unveiled. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

So basically, the FonePad is a Nexus 7 tablet that also has a 3G/4G radio. Other than that, the dimenstions are pretty similar, but this Device opts for the Intel Z2420 SoC clocked at 1.2 GHz with a PowerVR SGX 540 gpu, the usual 1280×800 (216ppi) screen, but also includes support for up to 32GB of external storage via SD card, but this time, adds on a 3.15MP camera at the back unlike the nexus 7.  As usual a  2MP shooter adorns the front of the slab.

I suppose the weirdness factor becomes a little less obvious once the price comes into perspective. ASUS plans to sell this device at a measly $249 off contract. For a full-featured tablet/phone, I can start to see the appeal. I still think it looks ridiculous, holding that device to your face to make calls. But that’s just me. I also know that every one else in the world does not base their decisions on my opinions. The future looks “BIG” 😉

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