Second-gen PadFone raises prospect of smartphone-powered systems

Asus' PadFone is a curious beast. It's basically a smartphone that can be plugged into a tablet when you're craving a larger screen. The tablet portion contains an auxiliary battery that can charge the smartphone, but there isn't much else to it—the handset is the brains behind the operation. Asus revealed the first-gen PadFone last May, and its successor will be unveiled in October, according to an invitation received by Notebook Italia.

The invitation doesn't provide any hints about the device, but the new model is expected to feature a quad-core Snapdragon S4 SoC from Qualcomm. With that sort of grunt, the PadFone 2 would be well-equipped to power a tablet. I wouldn't be surprised to see Asus riff off the Motorola Atrix and provide a Transformer-style keyboard dock, as well. Imagine, if you will, a Voltronesque device capable of combining keyboard, tablet, and smartphone elements.

Such a device may not be in the cards, but it raises an interesting question about the viability of using smartphones to drive larger systems. The latest SoCs seem powerful enough for the task, and there are benefits to having one's smartphone—and the data and applications it houses—tied to a larger screen and a proper keyboard. At the same time, however, the prevalence of cloud storage options makes it much easier to switch between multiple standalone devices.

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