The smartphone with tablet (or a tablet with a smartphone) is back and ASUS has called it unsurprisingly, the PadFone 2. Hoping to solve all your mobile needs from one device, we've previously praised the Taiwanese firm for its brilliant Transformer tablet family, named the original ASUS PadFone in our Hot 100 and let’s not forget that it helped bring the T3 Award-winning Google Nexus 7 to life.
Can ASUS flex its muscles in the smartphone market? Here’s T3 look at the key features of the PadFone 2 and how it matches up to its
Build and design
ASUS says it has completely redesigned the hybrid tablet and smartphone device to reduce the overall thickness and weight taking the combined bulk of the 10.1-inch tablet and 4.7-inch smartphone down to 649g from 853g. The handset is now heavier at 135g but at 9mm thick is a little slender, but not quite in the realms of the iPhone 5.
Docking the smartphone into its tablet-friendly body has now changed getting rid of the lid and using a Micro-USB/HDMI hybrid connector now slides the handset into the back of the tablet which should make it much easier to switch between the two modes.
While the tablet display is largely the same as the 10.1inch WXGA 1280x800 resolution one that featured on the first PadFone, the smartphone has jumped from a 4.3 inch to a 4.7-inch Samsung Galaxy S3-sized screen with 1280 x 720 HD resolution and Super IPS+ display technology to produce excellent viewing angles.
That should mean an improvement in the resolution department compared to the 960x540 qHD Super AMOLED screen on the first PadFone. Both tablet and smartphone screens boast Corning Fit Glass to improve picture sharpness and deliver a more vibrant colourful display.
With two devices to power, the PadFone 2 upgrades from a 1.5GHz dualcore Snapdragon processor to new S4 quadcore innards which along with 2GB of RAM should ensure it can handle the toughest tasks without breaking a sweat.
Disappointingly, the PadFone 2 will feature Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich just as the original did which means it misses out on the slickness of the latest Jelly Bean update. For those worried about apps working across both devices, ASUS claims that apps will be optimized to support both tablet and phone modes.
Taking care of pictures is a 13-Megapixel rear-facing camera (up from 8-Megapixels) which can also shoot 1080p full HD video at 30fps or 720p HD footage at 60fps. A wide f2.4 aperture will look after low-lit photography while the Burst mode can take up to 100 pictures snapping six shots per second whilst filming a bit like the HTC One X range and Samsung Galaxy S3 are capable of. There’s a 1.2-Megapixel front-facing camera, however there are no details as to quality (or appearance) of a camera for the PadFone Station.
Improving on both fronts ASUS has swapped the swapped the 1,520mAh Lithium smartphone battery for a higher capacity 2,140mAh one promising between 13-15 hours of playtime with the PadFone 2. The 5,000mAh capacity battery nestled in the PadFone 2 Station will get you around 36 hours 3G talk time and has the ability to recharge the handset three times over.
The big news is that the PadFone 2 supports LTE which means it will benefit from the increased speed of a 4G wireless connection, on top of existing 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities. Another new addition is NFC which let you share webpages and contacts and details about your favourite apps from Google Play, while only one data plan is required to use between devices.
Available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB you’ll also have access to 50GB of ASUS WebStorage for free for two years which is a year shorter than was offered with the original PadFone.
UK release date
The ASUS PadFone 2 will be hitting Europe in December but according to our friends over at Tech Radar will be UK bound in early 2013. For our European counterparts who can get hold of the PadFone 2 before the end of the year pricing starts at €799 (£647) for the 32 GB version and €899 (£728) for a 64GB model.
Impressed by the ASUS PadFone 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.