Asus, which among many other mobile devices makes Google’s Nexus tablet, apparently sees an opportunity to compete both as a smartphone and tablet with the Fonepad, a 3G-enabled voice and mobile data device with 7-inch HD display that will sell for $249.
The Fonepad, introduced at the big Mobile World Congress event this week in Spain, is powered by a new Intel Atom Z2420 processor and Android 4.1.
Samsung pioneered the so-called “phablet” (hybrid smartphone/tablet) concept with the Galaxy Note, but that device is best known for its tablet features and some models are WiFi only. But Asus isn’t downplaying the phone aspect of Fonepad despite its big, tablet-like display.
"The incorporation of 3G mobile data with full telephony support makes the Fonepad a perfect combination of tablet and phone in one single device,” said Asus chairman Jonney Shih in a release.
More broadly, Asus is pitching the Fonepad as a single device people can use for both voice and entertainment (i.e. content consumption) as well as other tablet apps including some bundled productivity ones. The Fonepad is designed so it can be held comfortably in one hand, weighing in at only 340g with a slim 10.4mm profile.
The initial distribution of a 16GB model is set for later in Q2 in the UK; no word on the timeframe for broader availability. Storage can be expanded up to 32GB with a microSD card. All models feature a front 1.2-megapixel camera for photos and video chat.
Asus says it’s also including a number of “exclusive” Asus productivity apps starting with its “Floating App” designed to help easily manage the apps running on the device including multi-tasking; SuperNote Lite for handwritten notes and drawing; and WebStorage Office Online for Microsoft Office-compatible document editing.
Fonepad users will also get 5GB of free lifetime Asus WebStorage for syncing and sharing data with other devices.