Ever seen a netbook with a 4.5-inch touchpad? Now you have. Korea Telecom's attendance at IFA this year was crowned by the introduction of the Spider Phone: a dual-core 1.5GHz beast of an Android smartphone that can also be docked into dedicated laptop and tablet cradles, turning it into 10.1-inch devices of either category. Not only that, it can also slide into a dedicated gamepad and, communicating via Bluetooth, allow you to enjoy your games with a more old school control scheme.
The silicon under the hood is Qualcomm's MSM8260 Snapdragon, which is kept good company by a 1280 x 800 (WXGA) screen resolution, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (plus MicroSD expandability), a 1,710mAh battery, and an 8-megapixel camera capable of capturing 1080p video at 30fps. Just to top off the opulent spec sheet, the front-facing cam also packs in 3 megapixels of resolution. KT tells us the Spider Phone will be out in its native Korea this November at a price somewhere around $600, with an international launch also a possibility pending customers' reaction to the initial release.
Joining the Spider Phone at retail will be the Spider Pad, a 10.1-inch tablet with the same resolution as the phone, which adds a capacitive touchscreen of its own plus a pair of speakers and a 6,400mAh battery. Connection between the two devices is established via Micro-HDMI and MicroUSB and the handset slots into the rear of the otherwise hollow slate. The same communication method is employed when attaching the phone to the Spider Laptop accessory (which also comes with a 6,400mAh cell), though the difference is that the Spider Phone also fulfills a secondary purpose in acting as the touchpad for its laptop dock. Finally, the gamepad accessory lacks the Spider branding and the physical connectivity and relies on Bluetooth to transfer data between itself and the phone. For its relative lack of complexity, it gets the lowest price tag at $22, while the Spider Pad will cost $300 and the Spider Laptop's price has yet to be determined.
Running Android 2.3.4, the Spider Phone looked nimble and responsive when navigating through its menus, though its software exhibited a great many rough edges when docked into the tablet or laptop. As of today, it doesn't quite work correctly as the laptop's touchpad, whereas browsing its home screens on the tablet suffered from notable lag. While we're getting the negatives out of the way, build quality on the Spider Phone's accessories is hardly supreme, with the 10.1-inch netbook's screen hinge being particularly weak and the gamepad accessory scoring mediocre marks at best. The latter's lack of an analog control pad is almost as bad as its plastic-heavy, un-ergonomic construction.
All that said, KT is actually in talks with Samsung, LG, and HTC about producing more of these -- the current manufacturers are small independent Korean producers -- so the hope for a device like the Spider Phone making the journey west isn't unreasonable. Skip past the break to see more of the Spider Phone in our hands-on gallery and video.