Asus is branching out on its phone offerings and introducing not one, not two, but three flavours of "Zenfone," Android handsets with ultrabook lineage.
The three new flavours of Zenfone come in 4-, 5-, and 6-inch screen sizes, and feature the new Asus "Zen UI" interface. You know, an Android skin. But this one comes complete with the very Google Now-like "What's Next tool," an open messaging client, and it's own set of (damn pretty) design standards.
An overly excited Asus Chairman Johnny Shih explained that compared to stock Android “more than 200 enhancements have been made to make all the little things in life more fun and seamless.”
It looks pretty good, but Android skins are generally better in theory than in practice. All of these buggers are colourful, and the 4 line almost recalls some sort of pastel Nokia. Kind of. These are pretty nice phones!
But perhaps the most noteworthy characteristic is on the inside: these are all Intel phones. The Zenfone 4 runs a 1.2GHz Intel Atom z2520, and the Zenfone 5 and Zenfone 6 pack a 2GHz Atom Z2580. That might matter to a lot of users, it's one more beachhead where Intel is pushing — hard — into Android land. And according to Asus, those Intel brains afford a lot of bonus power.
We're still checking on Australian details, but the Zenfone 4, 5 and 6 will hit North American at $US100, $US150, and $US200, respectively. .
New PadFone Mini
Of course that doesn't mean an end to Asus's PadFone aspirations. No no no no. Not at all! Asus has also announced the PadFone Mini, which pushes the tried and true crazy form-factor to its cognitive limits. It's a 4-inch smartphone that snaps into a 7-inch tablet.
At CES, Asus has also launched 10-inch version of the same concept — and updated model called the PadFone X.
Again, we're checking on Australia but do know the PadFone Mini will cost around $US250.