The year of the tablet phone continues with the 7-inch Asus Fonepad & new HD Padfone hybrid

Following the official announcement of Samsung’s 8-inch Galaxy Note smartphone and tablet hybrid, Asus today made things official for its own 7-inch tablet with built-in 3G calling capabilities. We’re not exactly sure if consumers are asking for a 7-inch or larger device for making calls, but the addition of an HSPA+ radio is on top of otherwise decent specs compared to its competitors. Dubbed the FonePad, Asus said the device includes a 1.2GHz Intel Atom Z2420 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 1,280-by-800 HD display, and a PowerVR SGX540 GPU. The Fonepad also packs a 4,270mAh battery that Asus said should bring around 9 hours of battery life.

As for availability, Asus said the Fonepad would arrive to customers in the U.K. sometime in late Q2 of this year with prices starting at £179 (inc VAT) for the 16GB variant.

The company also announced another phone/tablet hybrid today, the next-generation PadFone. Asus has released previous generations of the device including a smartphone and tablet dock that allows users to quickly switch from the tablet form factor to a smartphone. It announced it is upgrading the smartphone portion to a 5-inch, 1080p display, while the 10.1-inch tablet gets a new 1,920-by-1,200 display and upgraded internals (via Engadget):

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Qualcomm’s 4G LTE Gobi 4000 chips shipping to Android OEMs likely to land in next-gen tablets

Qualcomm has just issued a press release announcing the commercial availability of their Gobi 4000 chips for 4G LTE and HSPA+ capable devices, variants of which could very well land in any number of  forthcoming dual and quad-core LTE Android devices. Qualcomm is already working with OEMs to include the Gobi 4000 platform, which comes in both LTE/HSPA+ and LTE/EV-DO designs, in devices including Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops, and Dell’s Latitude E6420 laptops, in addition to other Android and Windows powered mobile devices. Qualcomm explains:

Qualcomm’s latest Gobi-enabled 4G platform features the Gobi Application Programming Interface (API) with LTE extensions and is compatible with leading connectivity standards, including CDMA2000® 1xEV-DO Rev. A and B, HSPA+, dual-carrier HSPA+, and LTE with integrated backwards compatibility to HSPA and EV-DO. The Gobi 4000 platform also includes software enhancements for select MDM™ chipsets that enable a common software interface to help connect, locate and manage 3G/4G devices regardless of wireless interface and operating system. 

The new chips, now shipping to OEMs through Novatel Wireless and Sierra Wireless, are based on Qualcomm’s MDM9600 and MDM 9200 3G/4G wireless modems, and as the company notes, have been specially designed for deployment in Android devices utilizing Snapdragon dual-core and quad-core processors. In addition to HSPA+, dual-carrier HSPA+, and LTE support, the Gobi 4000 platform is also backwards compatible with HSPA and EV-DO. You can expect the chip to land in a number of LTE-capable Android devices in the months to come.

Qualcomm’s senior vice president of produdct management for CDMA Technologies, Cristiano Amon, had this to say about the announcement:
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Localytics: One-third of the U.S. Android ecosystem is 4G-enabled

A Localytics study issued today helps understand why Verizon Wireless recently sided with Samsung in the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung legal saga. Per Localytics’ data, 4G is one of Android’s key differentiators: More than one in three Android phones in the United States take advantage of fourth-generation cellular networks. In the third quarter of this year, some 36.6 percent of Android handsets in the United States were 4G-ready, a notable increase over the 22.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

This number is increasing rapidly – since the beginning of the year, the percentage of Android devices that are 4G-capable has grown by over 50 percent, culminating at a full third of the Android ecosystem. It will be interesting to see whether the iPhone 5 supports any type of 4G network. The drawbacks – bulkier antenna and a much shorter battery life – may outweigh the benefits in speed. Regardless, with the growth in 4G-capable handsets Android has seen, it appears that smartphone users are buying into the value of speed. We’ll see how this continues. 

The nation’s most popular 4G handsets in the third quarter were the HTC Thunderbolt (Verizon), the HTC Evo 4G (Sprint), the Samsung Epic 4G (Sprint), the Samsung Droid Charge (Verizon), the myTouch 4G (T-Mobile USA) and the Motorola Atrix (AT&T). A few caveats and the full list of most popular 4G devices in the country right below the fold…

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AT&T unveils two 4G LTE devices for the summer

AT&T this morning announced first two devices 4G LTE devices, both Mac compatible: A 4G LTE mobile hotspot and a 4G LTE USB modem. If you live in any of AT&T’s five 4G LTE markets (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, with more coming by the year’s end), you can take advantage of 4G LTE speeds. Those living outside the initial 4G LTE coverage needn’t worry because AT&T, as they say, will have the only combo LTE/HSPA+ network and both devices feature HSPA+ support as a fallback technology. “Our customers will receive a more consistent mobile broadband experience that supports simultaneous voice and data connections and higher speeds than others can provide outside their LTE footprint”, AT&T argues. More on the devices, availability and price points after the break.

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