Today's no doubt a big day for ASUS: while chairman Jonney Shih is gearing up to introduce the PadFone 2 in Milan later today, we just saw CEO Jerry Shen wowing the crowd with the same phone-in-tablet combo back in Taipei. Just as the recent leaks have shown, ASUS' surprisingly quick follow-up to the original PadFone is simply bigger and better in many ways, notably with a screen upgrade to 4.7-inch 720p Super IPS+ panel (with up to 550nits brightness thanks to Sharp's efficient
IGZO LTPS technology), Qualcomm's awesome quad-core APQ8064 SoC instead of its dual-core sibling, 13-megapixel f/2.4 BSI sensor from Sony, 1.2-megapixel front camera, and a much slimmer PadFone Station slate -- partly because it no longer features a docking bay cover! New owners will be greeted by Android Ice Cream Sandwich, but ASUS promises a Jelly Bean upgrade soon. There's much more than meets the eyes so read on to find out more.
Update: We've been notified that the phone's display is of the more mature LTPS nature instead of IGZO.
ASUS PadFone 2 launch event
The aforementioned camera isn't just about the megapixels, as it also supports 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 60fps and up to 100 continuous shots at full resolution! Also thrown into the package are 2GB of RAM, Corning Fit Glass (as used on the Nexus 7 to save weight), NFC, 2,140mAh fixed battery, 50GB of ASUS WebStorage for two years (which we assume is the company's way of justifying the lack of microSD expansion), and WCDMA 900/2,100MHz (DC-HSPA+ supported) plus LTE 800/1,800/2,600MHz radios for the global model. Feeling left out by these network bands? Fret not, as our brethren over at Engadget Chinese heard that there will also be models compatible with North America, Japan and Australian networks (including LTE), but no dates have been announced just yet -- we'll probably hear more from the Milan event in this regard. Speaking of which, the PadFone 2 will be using micro-SIMs instead of the common mini-SIMs, and be sure to keep a paper clip handy for the SIM tray at the top of the phone.
Now, the tablet part. You'll still get a 10.1-inch 1,280 x 800 IPS display on the PadFone Station, but its original 6,600mAh battery's been slimmed down to 5,000mAh which we're totally OK with, given the now 514g weight. Adding the phone's 135g, the total of 649g is significantly lighter than the old 854g combo (724g without the phone), and hey, it's also lighter than the new iPad -- both WiFi and 3G flavors! Another big change here are the plugs and sockets: gone are the old 40-pin connector and dual-plug arrangement, and instead, you'll get a weird 13-pin connector on both the phone and the tablet that handles all the data, video, power and radio signals between the PadFone 2 and the new PadFone Station. Don't worry, the 13-pin socket's compatible with micro-USB as well as MHL.
As for availability, we bring you good news: folks in Taiwan can grab hold of the black PadFone 2 as early as next week, while the white version will be released at a later date. Like its predecessor, the PadFone 2 can be purchased either on its own (which is totally fine given the competitive specs) or together with the PadFone Station. The former ranges from NT$17,901 to NT$21,901 (about US$610 to US$750) unsubsidized for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB flavors, while the slate bundle is simply an additional NT$6,000 (about US$210) for each price point -- much cheaper than buying the PadFone Station separately for NT$8,990 (US$310). Our brethren over at Engadget Chinese heard that Hong Kong is also in the first wave of the launch, but there's no solid date just yet. Stay tuned as we sniff out for more detail.
Update: Sorry guys, looks like there's no keyboard for the PadFone 2. Bummer.
Update 2: We now have details on general availability in Europe and Asia.
Live Life Intuitively with ASUS PadFone™ 2
Quad-core smartphone with incredible battery life and a thinner, lighter PadFone 2 Station deliver the ultimate mobile flexibility.
Milan, Italy (October 16, 2012) - ASUS, a global leader in the new digital era, today announces the PadFone™ 2. Building upon the successful PadFone combination of an Android smartphone and dockable tablet for incredible mobile flexibility, PadFone 2 consists of a higher-specification quad-core smartphone and a completely redesigned tablet.
ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih unveiled PadFone 2 in front of the world's media at a press conference in Milan, Italy. "Our relentless drive to innovate through Design Thinking has empowered us to create PadFone 2. It's beautiful, it's fast, it's seamless and, best of all, it's intuitive," said Mr. Shih.
PadFone 2 is a fully featured 4.7" Android™ smartphone with industry-leading specifications that docks with the unique PadFone 2 Station to become a lightweight, but fully featured, 10.1" tablet. Apps are seamlessly optimized on-the-fly to support both tablet and phone modes, with an instant transition between smartphone and tablet screen sizes.
Enlarge and Charge
ASUS' world-renowned Design Thinking philosophy has significantly reduced PadFone 2 Station's thickness and weight. At just 649g, the combined weight of both PadFone 2 and PadFone 2 Station is now lighter than most tablets on the market, and the dock mechanism has been redesigned to require just one swift step to use. PadFone 2 has also been subtly refined to increase its screen size to 4.7", while reducing its thickness and weight to just 9mm at its thickest point and 135g, respectively.
Battery life is astounding, too. The higher-capacity PadFone 2 2140mAh battery provides up to 16 hours 3G talk-time and 13 hours Wi-Fi web browsing, while PadFone 2 Station's 5000mAh battery gives up to 36 hours 3G talk-time. PadFone 2 Station's internal battery also has enough capacity to recharge the docked PadFone 2 three times over.
Super Phone, Super Performance
A 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM ensures incredible PadFone 2 performance in both smartphone and tablet modes. The new 4.7" 1280 x 720 HD Super IPS+ display uses scratch-resistant Corning® Fit Glass and delivers sharp, detailed images with accurate colors, ultra-wide viewing angles and 550 nits brightness for stunning outdoor visibility.
A new 13-megapixel high-performance camera captures incredibly detailed images with no shutter lag. Burst mode can capture up to 100 shots at a blisteringly quick six shots per second, while simultaneously recording 1080p HD video at 30fps, or 720p HD video at 60fps. Low-light performance is also enhanced by the wide f/2.4 aperture and a dedicated image signal processor. Both PadFone 2 and PadFone 2 Station feature superlative sound quality too, thanks to ASUS SonicMaster technology and audio tuning by Waves, recipient of a Technical GRAMMY Award®.
Easy to Share, Easy to Save
With capacities up to 64GB and 50GB of ASUS WebStorage provided free for two years, PadFone 2 offers endless possibilities for storing data. Data syncing between devices is also a thing of the past, since PadFone 2 storage is used by PadFone 2 Station when the two are connected. Shared mobile data connectivity between smartphone and tablet also means just one data plan is needed for both devices, while support for up to 42Mbit/s DC-HSPA+ and 100Mbit/s LTE delivers super-fast web browsing and downloads.
PadFone 2 also features a new version of the SuperNote app that instantly converts handwritten notes made in multiple languages into editable text. Its Instant Translation tool also translates any word, phrase or sentence in an email, web page or app at a touch, without the need for a third-party translation tool.
PadFone 2 will be launched before the end of December in Europe (Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden) and Asia (Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, U.A.E). Availability in other countries will be announced at a later date.