Running on Android 4.1, the device is notable because it also has 3G connectivity and full telephony support, just like on a smartphone.
Focus Taiwan has reported that the Fonepad will be available to purchase in-store by the end of March, starting at NT $8,900 ($302 USD) for the 16GB model. That’s considerably higher than the €219 ($283.47 USD) announced in Barcelona, however.
The device will be available from the following retailers: Tsann Kuen Enterprise Co, E-Life Mall Corp and Sunfair Computer Co, as well as the Yahoo and PChome online stores.
Focus Taiwan also says that the Fonepad will be sold through Chunghwa Telecom, one of the largest telecom operators in the country, to accelerate the device’s adoption and public awareness. As is common with smartphones, Chunghwa Telecom will be subsidizing the Fonepad so that it’s free to consumers, provided they sign up to a two-year contract priced at NT $1,343 ($45.07 USD) per month.
The Fonepad is expected to launch in Europe, meanwhile, by the end of April. There’s no word yet on a wider international release, however.
The Fonepad continues ASUS’ strategy of offering impressive hardware at an affordable price. Under the hood is an Intel Atom Z2420 processor, as well as a 1280×800 display with a 178-degree viewing angle and 10-point multi-touch.
Every tablet comes with a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera, although a 3 megapixel version on the back, capable of shooting 720p video, is an optional extra. It will be competing with the iPad Mini, Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, as well as a whole host of budget Android tablets that have adopted the slightly smaller form factor.
The Fonepad, while interesting in itself, was overshadowed at Mobile World Congress by another hybrid device launched by ASUS, called the PadFone Infinity. The two share a similar name, but they’re markedly different in their approach, concept and hardware design.
The PadFone Inifnity starts with a 5-inch smartphone, sporting a full HD 1920×1080 display at 441 PPI, as well as a 10.1-inch tablet dock that can be used to control and access the content previously on the phone.
During its unveiling, ASUS said the Padfone Infinity will launch in April for €999 ($1292.41 USD), which while considerably more than the Fonepad, is understandable given that it’s really a bundle price for two separate devices.