Dawn of the ´Phablets´ at Mobile World Congress 2013



Asus launches two smartphone-tablet hybrids at Mobile World Congress

"Phablets" - smartphone and tablet hybrids - are all the rage this year and Asus stole the show at day one of Mobile World Congress with the launch of not one, but two of them.

ASUS Fonepad 01 ASUS Fonepad 02


Confusingly named the Padfone Infinity and the Fonepad, the developers brought in a "tech illusionist" to help out with the launch in Barcelona.

The Fonepad, the size of a small tablet but with all the functionality of a 3G phone, drew gasps from the crowd when Asus chairman Jonney Shih announced its price - just 219 euro (around £192).

The Fonepad offers the most comprehensive all-in-one solution, whereas the Padfone Infinity is actually two devices - a smartphone which fits into a tablet station, seamlessly transferring the display to a bigger screen.

Mr Shih explained to a packed press conference in Barcelona: "Given the fact that now actually you spend more time with computer screens than you do making calls so why are the screens so small?

"So we have already created a solution to this problem with Padfone, with the transformer Padfone approach.

"But for those who just want to have one device I think Fonepad is the perfect companion.

"Here are all the benefits of one device for all. One is lighter than two - there is no need to switch between devices."

Available in April, the Intel-powered Fonepad comes with a streamlined metallic finish in two colours - titanium grey and for more extravagant tastes "champagne gold".

It comes with all the trimmings of both a phone and a tablet - camera, voice communication and a touch-screen.

But perhaps best of all, Asus claim it outperforms the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 on battery life - boasting 31 hours for 3G voice calling and 9.8 hours when playing back 720p video.

Meanwhile, the Padfone Infinity provides what Mr Shih called "Customer Happiness 2.0".

Asus Press Conf MWC13 (1)

The 5 inch HD screen smartphone operates as a normal mobile would, but it can slot into the back of a larger, 10.1 inch tablet, with the display transferring to the tablet and giving the full functionality of the larger device.

"This is indeed a masterpiece I am very proud of," Mr Shih said.

Pad Fone Infinity 05

It comes with a 13-megapixel camera, capable of shooting high resolution full HD video, and boasts intuitive voice command - you can tell it to take a photo by saying "cheese", eliminating some awkward self-shot moments.

But at an eye watering 999 euro (around £875), the more money conscious may go for the Fonepad.

Earlier in the day, Nokia went all-out for emerging markets with the launch of four phones, including a £120 smartphone.

The Lumia 520 was launched alongside the £13 Nokia 301, a clear statement of intent to conquering the developing world.

Perhaps the best feature of the Windows 8 smartphone was that it can be used wearing gloves, but that may not be of use in warmer climes such as India.

A clear play for those in remote or poorer regions, the 301 also has an FM radio and a torch, helpful if you do not have reliable electricity.

It also marked the end of an era - the 301 has a colour display and so marks the end of the humble black and white screen for the Finnish developers.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told a press conference: "Today we're introducing the world's most innovative portfolio of products.

"For Nokia the building blocks are in place and now we have to make sure that all of this capability, all of this beauty in design, everything that we have done in terms of great product making is put into the hands of consumers and that's what we're focused on today."