Asus announces smartphone/tablet combo

Asus has shown off its new Padfone device – an Android phone which slots into the back of a tablet.

The Padfone‘s 10.1-inch tablet is little more than a big screen and battery, recharging the 4.3-inch smartphone when it’s inserted.

Data is stored in a single pool: the idea is to allow users to access all the phone’s features on the larger screen of the tablet as soon as it is inserted. Asus says the layout is automatically adjusted for each activity, whether it be videoconferencing, web browsing or emailing.

And the two devices share a single SIM card, with the tablet using the phone’s 3G connection, meaning only one bill.

It does have its downsides – if a call comes in while the phone is docked, for instance, the user will need to either use Bluetooth or scramble to get the phone undocked in time to answer it.

There’s no detailed specification yet – the company says it’s still finalizing the hardware. Nor did it say which version of Android it’ll use, although the odds are it’ll be Ice Cream Sandwich.

There’s also no word on pricing, which will likely be a major factor in the Padfone’s popularity.

It’s expected to hit the market by the end of the year.