Why is the Padfone Infinity hybrid so much more expensive than the Fonepad phone/tab combo?

by: AdrianFebruary 26, 2013

Asus PadFone Infinity

This year’s MWC is set to go on for a couple more days, so there are still plenty of exciting things to happen, but so far Asus has stolen the Barcelona show. The Taiwanese have been in the spotlight not just with crafty marketing and wacky presentations, but quite simply with the most attractive new gadgets – the Padfone Infinity and Fonepad.

And yet we don’t really expect the two to become mainstream hits. The Padfone Infinity because of its premium pricing and likely limited availability and the Fonepad mostly due to its wackiness. And, in some part, also due to pricing.

I know what you’re going to say. How the heck is the Fonepad too expensive at $249 when it can act both as a regular tablet and a super-sized phone? Simple – because it is pricey compared with the tab competition (the $200 Nexus 7, first and foremost), while its usability as a smartphone is close to zero.

But the unveiling of the Fonepad has also called Padfone’s luxurious pricing into question. After all, if a 7-inch phone can be sold for $249, why couldn’t a 5-incher that can turn into a 10-inch tab go for $400 or $500 instead of over 1,000 bucks? And taking things further, why can’t smartphones in general cost less off-contract?


The answers are again very simple and come straight from Asus. On one hand, small devices need more “engineering, development, and testing required to shrink down the components without affecting the heating, for example, and still offering the best performance.”

Second and equally as important, it’s a matter of the “bill of materials”. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, the Fonepad, like most other “affordable” 7-inch tablets, can’t compare with high-end phones in terms of performance.

Whereas the Padfone Infinity makes no compromises and packs a state-of-the-art Full HD screen and a Qualcomm 600 CPU among others, the Fonepad cuts a few corners with a 1,280 x 800 pix res panel and a single-core Intel Atom processor.

Everything about high-end phones has to be cutting edge, “the best ID, best feature spec, the latest and greatest of every component”, while many tabs just have to “deliver an optimal experience at an affordable price”.


Everything sounds legit so far, but that huge pricing gap is still not fully accounted for. Which brings us to one explanation Jonahan Santaub, regional director at Asus, may have forgot to offer Cnet, but that we know is true and valid – supply and demand.

2012 saw both smartphone and tablet shipments rise, but the gap remained huge – there were 722 million handhelds sold and only 128 million tabs. Also, a big chunk of the slate pie went to Apple, so there wasn’t much left for Android.

That said, you obviously need to sacrifice your winning margins in the tab market in order to gain traction, whereas when it comes to smartphones you have a lot more room to push both the performance and pricing boundaries.

And that, my friends, is how the cookie crumbles.

  • Filip Justin

    Not only one, but two Full HD screens.. Epic amount of pixels is translated into price.. Plus, ASUS is a luxury brand(just look at their notebook products and you will have a little heart attack during your heart attack when you’ll see the prices).

    • Asakura

      zenbooks maybe, go and see the entry level/midrange laptops and they are fine (better than HP and dell specs wise), but yeah they are not a random Chinese company

    • CyBrix_21

      But remember, Asus also released very cheap netbooks…

    • john

      But FHD screens are not that expensive! I bought the LG screens used on Chromebook Pixel 2560*1700 for 60 dollars each. That plus a eDP cable, a booster regulator for backlight power, I get around 70 dollars for a fully functional displayport monitor that uses this screen.

      Also, capacitive multi -touch screens aren’t that expensive either.

    • john

      I assume most of the price is that intel SoC.
      One thing that is sure about intel products are that:
      a) They are cutting edge despite all that cluttering
      b) Really expensive
      c) I have yet to find someone who managed to persuade me that their price was justified.

      Only reason that I am not too annoyed at Intel ATM is that they are fabricating the chips for Abex 3D PLDs which is cool.

  • For $1000 I can buy Galaxy Note II in Iceland or Norway but it is little less expensive in Norway. So generally I don’t find $1000 to much for the Padfone if I bought him in USA.

  • Bone

    Playing Lego is a bit silly in today’s world of cloud and synchronization – why bother with docking if you can start reading (or writing) an article on your PC, continue on phone and finish on a tabtop with the SW handling the switches. Yet you pay the price of two devices with only able to use one at a time (family/others can’t use the tablet cause they need your phone, not to mention the silly disconnecting upon receiving a call which effectively stops whatever work you’ve been doing.)

    It looks great, it performs great but it doesn’t make practical sense, not at that price point. If it was sold for $600, maybe $700 (the “tablet” is really just a screen and a battery) it’d make sense, but for $1200 you can get a top phone and top tablet and use them BOTH.

  • LarryVandemeer

    >>>fonepad usability as a smartphone is close to zero.

    Oh is that right? Guess you haven’t heard of bluetooth devices, eh?

    And why compare the fonepad to a $200 wifi only Nexus 7. Can the $200 Nexus 7 take a SIM? At least compare it to the $299 Nexus 7 with a radio, and the fonepad beats even that by $50.

  • Rob C

    New definition for “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”: http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/asus-fonepad-phone-talk-2.jpg

    That Photo of the Guy in an unpressed and cheap Suit with a Phone the size of his

    head tells us we don’t want to be like him ! The booze behind him helps nothing.

    • Lindsay

      Booze is good.