Like its predecessor, the Padfone 2 incorporates an Android-based smartphone that can dock into a 10.1-inch, 1280x800-pixel screen (the Padfone 2 Station), transforming the device into a tablet. The Station has an increased battery life (charging the phone as well), adds some additional storage and will automatically optimise any apps for the new screen size.
There were no real surprises at the launch of the Padfone 2, with photos and specs having leaked in the days leading up to the event.
The new Padfone has a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor, but still, disappointingly, runs Ice Cream Sandwich rather than the newer Jelly Bean (Asus noted that it is "upgradeable" to Jelly Bean). The camera has also increased to 13 megapixels, with a burst mode capable of capturing up to 100 shots at six shots per second, and takes 720p video at 60fps. Memory wise, the Padfone 2 runs from 16GB to 64GB, with an additional 50GB of cloud storage from Asus Webstorage.
The design is also where some major changes have been made. Gone is the slightly fragile "door" at the back for docking the phone unit; the Padfone 2 has a simple slot for the phone to drop into. The phone component itself has an increased screen size of 4.7 inches with a 1280x720-pixel resolution on a Super IPS+ panel (the original was 4.3-inch qHD), but it has lost both thickness and weight, dropping to 9mm at its thickest, 3.3mm at its thinnest and just 135g.
Seemingly also gone is the Bluetooth-enabled stylus that operated as a headset for taking calls when the phone is docked in the Station.
Battery has significantly increased, with the Padfone 2 sporting a 2149mAh battery, while the Station has a 5000mAh battery, which is capable of charging the Padfone over three times. Asus claims that the Padfone 2 by itself has a 3G talk time of 16 hours, 13 hours of browsing, nine hours of video and a standby time of two weeks. With the Station attached, this increases to 48 hours of talk, 39 hours of browsing, 27 hours of video and six weeks of standby.
We were definitely quite impressed with the audio — the Asus Sonic Master technology gives excellent sound reproduction, if you're someone who's worried about tablet speakers.
The Padfone 2 will be available in a number of countries across Europe and Asia in December, although Australia is not one of them, and local pricing and availability have yet to be announced. In Taiwan, the price is around AU$860 for the 32GB and AU$930 for the 64GB.
Nic Healey attended the launch of the Padfone 2 in Taipei as a guest of Asus.