If you know anything about ASUS, it's probably that they love to put things in other things. I'm pretty sure they pioneered putting phones inside of tablets, turning tablets into laptops, and other forms of turducken technology. In true ASUS form, the company announced not one, not two, but three new turduckentech devices yesterday: the PadFone Mini, PadFone X, and Transformer Book Duet.
As the smallest, most agile, and most affordable of the three, the PadFone Mini is ASUS' entry-level PadFone device. It's a four inch, 480x800 phone that docks into a seven inch, 1280x800 tablet. It's powered by an Intel Z2560 dual-core Atom processor, packs 1GB of RAM, shares 8GB of internal storage (it also has an SD card slot), and runs Android 4.3. ASUS has promised an upgrade to KitKat in the future, so that'll be available eventually.
At $249 USD, the PadFone Mini actually packs a lot of hardware for the money. It's two devices in one, and both feel surprisingly solid given the price point. I feel like the PadFone Mini would be a perfect "first phone" for a tween – it's cheap, is a phone and tablet, and comes in fun, festive colors. Tweens love fun, festive colors.
The docking action on the PadFone is incredibly fluid and simple, and the transition between the two devices is very quick. This was actually the most impressive aspect of the PadFone Mini, again considering its low price point.
The PadFone Mini runs ASUS' new ZenUI, which brings a whole new look for ASUS. It's flat, fluid, and fast, which allows it it run surprisingly well on the (relatively) low-end hardware. Everything in the UI is fairly snappy initially, though it's hard to say if that sort of fluidity will stay consistent over time. My first impressions of the overall look and feel is positive, so hopefully it can keep that momentum going.
Overall, the PadFone Mini is a nice little gadget, especially considering its $249 price tag. That's really an unprecedented price for a both a phone and tablet, and while it's definitely not meant for everyone, it's an appealing entry-level piece of kit for the right person. Unfortunately, there's no word on when (or if) the PadFone Mini will make its way Stateside, so we'll have to wait for word from ASUS on that.