Asus announces 4.3-inch PadFone mini, plans to bring PadFone line to US next year

After introducing the PadFone Infinity in September, Asus is back at it with the PadFone mini. What’s more, Asus CEO Jerry Shen told Engadget that that company plans to bring its modular PadFone line to the U.S. in 2014.

The PadFone mini follows the same concept as the PadFone Infinity – it’s a smartphone that slides into a tablet display – but this new model shrinks both the size of the phone and tablet. As opposed to the 5-inch phone and 10.1-inch tablet package you get with the Infinity, the mini devices measures 4.3 and 7 inches respectively.

The specs for the phone and tablet display are strictly mid-range at best, aimed for a “mainstream” audience. The phone is powered by a 1.4GHz Qualcomm (s qcom) Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and features a 960 x 540, 4.3-inch display. There’s an 8-megapixel camera on the back of the phone and a 2-megapixel camera up front. The phone uses a somewhat small 1,500mAh battery, and can slide into a 7-inch tablet dock, which has its own 2,200mAh battery. With 1280 x 800 resolution, though, I wouldn’t expect that battery to last terribly long.

While the PadFone mini isn’t likely to see a release outside of China, Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapor and Indonesia, future PadFone models will finally be making their way to the U.S. next year. Shen said that Asus is working on a product for a “big operator” in the U.S. for a Q2 launch.

So far modular smartphones with docks or tablets have failed to take off in the U.S. – the Motorola(s goog) Atrix comes to mind – but I still like the idea as long as it is implemented properly. I haven’t spent any time with a PadFone, so I can’t speak to how successfully it pulls the transformation off. But here’s hoping that next year’s PadFone get its right.