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PadFone officially revealed, ASUS hints at Ice Cream Sandwich and second-gen tablets

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Some images slipped out over the weekend with an early look at ASUS‘ planned device reveal at Computex this week, one that’s been teased with incomplete images and a question that reads, “Pad or Phone?” As we learned on Sunday, that answer to that question is “both.” Sort of.

At first glance, ASUS’ PadFone is a tablet/smartphone fusion in which a company-branded, iPhone-like cellular device fits snugly into a docking compartment that is part of a larger tablet. That’s what the weekend’s images showed us, but now Engadget has actually gotten to go hands on with the thing, and some additional details have emerged. Most importantly, the “pad” portion of this device does not function independently. It is essentially a tablet-shaped display, with the phone’s powers being enhanced in the joining.

What does that mean? Well, extended battery life, for starters. The display device apparently sports a built-in battery, much like the keyboard dock that goes with ASUS’ Eee Pad Transformer. The display also includes speakers and a small opening in the phone dock’s secret compartment that allows the camera to continue working, as well as, of course, a larger screen to gawk at. ASUS also hinted at other features, though nothing more was revealed.

Engadget also reports that the company is putting some thought into designing the display dock to remain compatible with future generations of branded phones, but no decisions have been made. There’s also no confirmation on which version of the Android operating system the phone will sport, but the ASUS rep pointed out to Engadget that Honeycomb is tablet-only, and this is technically a smartphone. With the PadFone targeted for a Christmas release, arriving alongside ASUS’ second generation of tablets, an Ice Cream Sandwich-powered release seems possibly, if not likely.

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