Asus' funky PadFone tablet-smartphone hybrid hitting the U.S.this spring

The Asus PadFone is one of the more interesting, if unconventional, devices in the Android universe. First debuting in 2011, it combines a regular Android smartphone, with a tablet shell that has a rear docking port for the phone. When docked, the smartphone provides the power and processing capability for the tablet shell.

So far, however, interest in the smartphone-tablet hybrid has not spurred Asus to introduce the device in the U.S. But the long wait for an Americanized PadFone may soon be over.

Speaking with Engadget, Asus CEO Jerry Shen said the company would release the PadFone in the U.S. during spring 2014. Shen's recent comments back-up previous remarks from the Asus CEO in August when he said PadFone would be coming to the U.S. sometime in 2014.

Shen's promise to bring the PadFone to American shores comes just as the company introduces the PadFone Mini in Taiwan. The Mini features a 4.3-inch 960-by-540 display, 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB of onboard storage, microSD expansion slot, and a 7-inch tablet display with 1280-by-800 resolution.

The latest version of the regular PadFone, the Infinity, is currently available in numerous markets around the world including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and a number of European countries. The Infinity combo features a 5-inch Android handset and a 10-inch tablet.

Beyond Infinity

What Asus has planned for the PadFone's U.S. debut next year may not include either of the latest PadFone devices. Instead, the company plans to introduce a “high-end” version of the smartphone-tablet combo for the U.S. and Europe. Details are scarce and Shen is only saying Asus will launch the high-end PadFone with “a big [mobile] operator” in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2014.

Pricing, specs, and the identity of the “big operator” are anybody's guess. Another unknown is whether U.S. mobile device buyers are willing to own a hybrid device like the PadFone instead of two separate devices that can work independently.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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