Smartphone electronics are more powerful than even tablets or laptops were just a few years ago.
The ASUS Padfone is an Android smart phone that plugs into a tablet with a screen the same size as an iPad (10.1 inches). When you do so, the phone now becomes the engine for the multi-touch tablet.
The Padfone takes advantage of the brand new Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, which can re-size itself on the fly. You can also use an optional stylus, aping the functionality of very expensive Windows Tablet PCs.
Many gadget-happy mobile users have a phone, a tablet and a laptop. Although no pricing has been announced, the ASUS Padfone with all the trimmings will certainly be way, way cheaper than buying an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air.
The Padfone should be available by summer.
The Danish company Lumigon plans to ship an Android phone called the T2. In addition to looking like a sleek Euro-designed piece of stainless-steel eye candy, the T2 doubles as a universal remote control.
You program it by pointing it at each existing remote control, pressing a button on the remote, then telling the phone which button you pressed. Once programmed, your phone controls your TV and other remotely controllable home appliances just like their dedicated remotes did.
The phone also uses in-the-air gestures like a Wii remote. For example, you can turn the volume up by raising the phone, or go to the next track on an album by moving the phone to the right.
The T2 will ship later this year in Nordic countries, then spread outward from there, arriving in the United States at some unknown date in the future.
These three extreme super-phones are not just a little better. They’re WAY ahead of the iPhone in specific applications that really matter to people. And they’re just part of the overwhelming assault the iPhone is facing this year from powerful competition.
For example, LG is preparing to ship a no-glasses 3D smart phone called the LG Optimus 3D Max.
LG also announced what it claims is the fastest smartphone in history: The LG Optimus 4X HD. The quad-core phone is as powerful as a PC, according to the company.
If you like the idea of a smartphone PC, you’ll love the upcoming Ubuntu for Android. The software will turn Android phones into a dual-boot phone and PC.
The way it works is that the installation puts Ubuntu Linux and Android side-by-side on the phone. The phone continues to function normally. But when you plug it into a PC monitor, keyboard and mouse -- or a TV -- Linux and Android both run off the same kernel, and the phone becomes a PC.
Your apps, files and content all function on the big screen, and with keyboard and mouse, but in a Linux environment rather than Android.
The smartphone space is about to launch into crazy new territory with these extreme super-phones.
The iPhone is a mainstream, mass-market phone. And the extreme super-phones are niche products for people with specific needs or obsessions. But together, the new generation of extreme super-phones will be very hard for the iPhone to compete with all by itself.
And whether the iPhone wins or loses, it’s clear that users are the big winners -- especially power-hungry users who want unprecedented capabilities in the pocket device they carry everywhere.