Just like it said it would, ASUS has formally unveiled its versatile, form-changing PadFone at Mobile World Congress. There are two stories here, and they're both quite compelling, frankly. On the one hand, you've got yet another high-end device, with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED qHD display, Snapdragon's new dual-core S4 chip, an Adreno 225 GPU, Ice Cream Sandwich and an 8-megapixel rear camera with an LED flash and f/2.2 autofocusing lens. (The front camera records at VGA resolution.) Other specs include 16 to 64GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD), Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI, GPS, A-GPS, a gyroscope, 1,520mAh battery and a compass. Connectivity options include WCDMA (900, 2100 MHz), EDGE / GPRS / GSM (850, 1800 and 1900 MHz) and HSPA+, with theoretical download speeds topping out at 42Mbps. Barring LTE, we wouldn't expect much less from a flagship launched at the world's premier wireless show.

But those are just specs. If you focus solely on its chip and 9.2mm-thick frame you'd be missing its most distinguishing attribute: it's ability to parade around in tablet's clothing (albeit, with the help of some optional, still-unpriced accessories.) Taking a cue from Motorola's Lapdock-friendly handsets, the PadFone can slide into an optional station that effectively allows you to use it as if it were a 10.1-inch tablet. Like the optional docks sold alongside ASUS' Transformer tablets, the station not only improves the ergonomics, but also extends the battery life -- in this case, by nine-fold. Speaking of keyboard docks, ASUS will be selling one for this product, too, so that you can tuck that 10-inch phone-tablet into something with a full physical keyboard. Finally, there's that guy you see up there, which looks like a stylus (and is!), but also doubles as a headset for receiving calls. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future.

And when can you make it yours? ASUS confirmed that the PadFone will ship in April. Unfortunately, the company stopped short of revealing any pricing, so you'll have to stay tuned for some country-specific details. For now, though, we're planning on getting hands-on with the device as soon as we can, giving you a much closer look than we were able to when we spied a prototype back at CES.

Update: And our hands-on is up now. Enjoy!

Update 2: ASUS just confirmed that the LTE flavor of the PadFone will be available in early Q3 -- see the slide after the break.

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ASUS Padfone and Padfone Station

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ASUS PadFone and upcoming Transformer Pad Lineup unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2012
ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih introduces the latest ASUS mobile devices and discusses his vision of ubiquitous cloud computing

Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, Spain (27 February, 2012) – At today's "Incredibly Mobile Endless Possibilities" ASUS press event, Chairman Jonney Shih unveiled the revolutionary PadFone and upcoming Transformer Pad lineup. "The time has finally arrived when every screen in your lives could transcend into a portal with real time access into your digital world," said Mr. Shih as he introduced the ASUS PadFone which transforms into a three-in-one combination of a smartphone, a tablet and a notebook when accessorized with the PadFone Station and PadFone Station Dock.

The ASUS PadFone is an incredible 4.3" smartphone featuring a Super AMOLEDqHD display, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual core processor and an ultra-sharp 8-megapixel digital camera with Fuji image processor all wrapped in an exquisite design that is optimized for Google's Android 4.0 operating system. When placed inside the optional PadFone Station, it transforms into a 10.1" tablet with 5 times the battery capacity. The PadFone offers unmatched versatility via ASUS' proprietary Dynamic Display technology which allows seamless transition between the PadFone and PadFone Station display screens. In addition, the PadFone Station offers an optional keyboard dock that essentially turns the PadFone into an ultraportable computing device. The PadFone also comes with the option of a PadFone Stylus Headset which is a Bluetooth stylus pen that transforms into a headset for picking up calls easily.

ASUS is redefining the future of mobile computing devices and is excited to announce the new and innovative ASUS Transformer Pad lineup. Offering three distinct models to fit the unique needs of mobile media consumers, ASUS believes in providing consumers with choices. The ASUS Transformer Pad lineup includes the ASUS Transformer Pad Prime and upcoming ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity series and ASUS Transformer Pad 300 series.

The Transformer Pad Infinity Series is poised to be the go-to tablet for HD mobile entertainment as it features an impressive 1920x1200 Full HD Super IPS+ display and ASUS SonicMaster technology. The 4G LTE* model comes armed with the powerful Qualcomm MSM 8960 Snapdragon S4 Krait Dual-core 1.5Gh processor and is capable of download and upload speeds of up to 100Mbps and 50Mbps respectively. The WiFi model features the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processor for incredible application and gaming performance. The Transformer Pad Infinity has a 2MP front camera for HD video conferencing along with an 8MP rear camera with a large F2.2 aperture, 5-element lens and LED flash for stunning high quality images or HD video capture.

The Transformer Pad 300 Series makes for an ideal mobile web surfing and gaming platform with its NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processor and high quality 10.1" 1280x800 IPS display with either 4G LTE* or WiFi options. It features a 1.2MP front camera for video conferencing and an 8MP rear camera with a large F2.2 aperture, 5-element lens allows for high quality images along with HD video recording. The Transformer Pad 300 Series has battery life of up to 10 hours*, and that is extended up to 15 hours* with the optional keyboard dock
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