Asus offers a line of smartphones that you can use as tablets by sliding them into a tablet docking station. Asus PadFone devices have been available in Taiwan for a few years and this year the Asus PadFone X became the first model to officially launch in the United States when AT&T began offering the 5 inch phone and 9 inch tablet dock.
Now it looks like a new, smaller model may be on the way.
An unannounced device called the Asus PadFone X mini showed up at the FCC this week, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the many devices Asus will show off at the IFA trade show in Berlin in early September.
The Asus PadFone X mini has the model number T00S and the phone supports GSM, WCDMA, and LTE networks. That means it could also work on AT&T’s network (or T-Mobile’s), although it’s not yet clear if this model will be sold in the US at all.
The documents don’t provide details about the screen size or other specs. But Asus did unveil a Padfone mini with a 4 inch screen and a 7 inch tablet docking station at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. It’s possible that the new Padfone X mini will be the same size… or it could even be the same device with a new name designed to make it clear that the new phone is related to the larger Padfone X.
While PadFone tablets are a bit bulkier than standalone tablets, they offer an interesting value proposition. You don’t need to pay your wireless carrier an extra fee to connect the tablet to the internet because it’s using the same connection as your phone. In fact, the phone is the only thing connecting to the internet. The brains of the system are packed into the phone and the tablet is basically just a way of using your phone with a bigger screen and an extended battery. Unplug your phone and the tablet dock becomes useless.
Here’s my hands-on video with the Asus PadFone mini from January: