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Asus Preparing To Launch Padfone Smarter Phone In February

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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Asus is planning to release its new class of mobile device at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

The Padfone was first announced by Asus at Computex IT conference in May 2011, where the design raised some eyebrows. The company has now set a date for the release of this unusual smartphone/tablet duo at the Mobile World Congressin Spain on 27 February.The system will consist of two Android-powered devices which can be physically combined to share storage, battery and Internet connection. Consequently, the Padfone will only require a single SIM-card.

A phone with a mobile monitor

The first half of the device acts as a traditional smartphone. What makes it unique is the accompanying sleek, 10.1 inch tablet featuring a docking bay in the back of the case. This is designed to house the phone when you need to access a larger screen. The tablet will hijack the phone’s 3G connection, while charging it as an external battery.

User data will be synchronised between the devices automatically, and even the home screen layout will look the same across both. Asus claimed it has made extra sure that this transition feels “seamless”, so a user can easily alternate between the phone and the tablet, according to circumstances.

According to online forum MoDaCo, the device will feature the Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and will be powered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Padfone has the potential to bridge the gap between gadgets placed in a pocket, and those carried in a bag.

While it sounds good on paper, the company will have to wait until February to see if the idea catches on. At the moment, the piggyback design appears to be more of a curiosity than a threat to the reign of the Apple iPad.