Today’s no doubt a big day for ASUS: while chairman Jonney Shih is gearing up to introduce thePadFone 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 IGZO 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.
The aforementioned camera isn’t just about the megapixels, as it also supports 1080p at 30fps, 720p at60fps 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.