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Asus Padfone smartphone-tablet headed for Mobile World Congress

Hybrid tablet and smartphone to get MWC debut

Asus has begun teasing yet another debut of its Padfone smartphone-tablet combo at the Mobile World Congress scheduled for Barcelona in late February, and industry watchers expect the device to run Android 4.0 (i.e. Ice Cream Sandwich).

Back when Taiwan's Asus first gave a glimpse of the Padfone concept in May, at the Computex IT show in Taipei, Google was still on Android 3.0, dubbed Honeycomb.

VISUAL TOUR: Google's Ice Cream Sandwich

The Padfone is unique in that it consists of a 4.3-inch smartphone that pops into a 10.1-inch tablet, enabling users to tap into the smartphone capabilities from the tablet. Meanwhile, the tablet powers up the smartphone.

The Android Authority blog raises the question of whether any U.S. carriers will offer the Padfone, suggesting they won't at least initially. "I doubt it will [be available in the United States] because most of our carriers want to be able to charge you for data for both devices not just one," writes Alexander Maxham.

Asus Chairman Jonney Shih indicated in October that the Padfone would come with Ice Cream Sandwich installed and ship in Q1 2012. Pricing has not been disclosed.

Asus has turned heads recently due to its introduction of the Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablet, which boasts a quad-core processor and is one of the first tablets being upgraded to Android 4.0. 

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