Asus has officially launched its Padfone 2, the latest in its range of one-size-fits-all convertible Android devices.
Building on the original Padfone, the Padfone 2 is identical in concept: a powerful Android-based smartphone docks in the rear of a tablet-style display, providing users with the ability to quickly transform the handset into a large-screen tablet without the need to manage two distinct devices. Applications and files held on the phone are, naturally, instantly accessible on the tablet, and when the phone is removed continue to run on the smaller screen.
The design has changed since the original Padfone, however: the clunky door mechanism has been replaced with a smoother slide system which orients the phone upright as the tablet is held in a landscape position. As well as reducing the thickness of the tablet, this also means it can make use of the smartphone's high-resolution 13-megapixel rear camera for still and video capture.
Internally, the device boasts Qualcomm's quad-core ARM Cortex-A9-based APQ8064 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 2,140mAh battery. The display is a 4.7in Super IPS+ panel with IGZO technology running at 1280x720, while the tablet side gets a 10.1in 1280x800 IPS along with a secondary 5,000mAh battery - a reduction from the original Padfone's 6,600mAh. Storage depends on the model purchased, with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions available.
Connectivity includes integrated Wi-Fi along with 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) support for the mobile side. Sadly, the option of connecting a keyboard to the Padfone 2 - which allowed the original Padfone to convert from a phone to a tablet to a netbook and back again - has disappeared, and the device will launch with the somewhat outdated Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' with an upgrade to Android 4.1 'Jelly Bean' promised in the near future.
Asus has confimred that the Padfone 2 will be launching in Taiwan next week, initially in black and with a white version due to follow shortly after. International pricing has yet to be confirmed, with the Taiwanese models expected to start at around NT$17,990 plus NT$6,000 for the tablet dock (approximately £512 exluding taxes for the pair.)