Well look at this! Our lucky buddies over at Engadget Chinese managed to get an early hands-on with the brand-spanking new PadFone 2 from ASUS. As we mentioned earlier, the bulkiness of the original model is totally gone and we're still blown away by the combo's new weight. But first, the phone: in our hands, it really just feels like an enlarged version of the original PadFone, especially with the ripple pattern on the back, as well as the plastic chin at the bottom along with the slightly tapered aluminum bezel. We do love the new and larger Super IPS+ screen, which is much sharper than the old PenTile Super AMOLED display, and it no doubt has better outdoor performance as well. Additionally, the Android soft keys are no longer virtual -- you can access them below the screen at any time, and we dig that.
While docking the phone into or pulling it out of the PadFone Station is hardly a challenge, there's some sort of magic that keeps the phone tucked into the bay no matter how hard our pals shook the tablet upside down (please don't try this at home) -- the geared rubber grip along the two sides of the bay are somehow responsible for this. The back of the PadFone Station has a rubbery texture that's essentially identical to its predecessor's, making it just as comfortable to hold, but only time will tell how durable the coating is. Software-wise it's just as snappy on the tablet as it is on the phone, and we noticed the switch between phone mode and tablet mode is now a tad quicker as well. It'll probably be easier to see once we have our English hands-on video, so stay tuned.
Update: We've finally managed to upload our hands-on video -- it's right after the break. Watch how we kept shaking the PadFone Station upside down and the phone still stayed inside its bay (again, don't do this at home, kids!). Also, we have a demo of the phone's Instant Dictionary feature. It's very handy.
Update 2: We've just been informed that the magical grip mechanism in the docking bay took over two years to develop. Nice one, ASUS!
ASUS PadFone 2 hands-on