Asus unveils new phone and dockable tablet combo

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... an Android smartphone that docks into a tablet shell type of thing. Cool.

At an event in Milan this morning, Asus took the wraps off the PadFone 2, the second iteration of its smartphone and tablet docking station combo. The device actually comes barely eight months after its predecessor, which launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this February. Despite the short refresh cycle, Asus apparently found plenty of room for improvement.

The PadFone 2 trades its predecessor's dual-core processor for a quad-core, 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 backed by 2GB of RAM. The display has gotten an upgrade from a 4.3" 960x540 panel to a 4.7" Super IPS+ screen with a 1280x720 resolution. The new phone supports both LTE and HSPA+ connectivity, and its accompanying tablet docking station—officially dubbed the PadFone 2 Station—has gotten a total redesign, with a simpler docking mechanism that involves "just one swift step to use."

In addition to all of that, Asus touts a higher-capacity, 2140 mAh battery (which is rated for up to 16 hours of 3G talk time and 13 hours of web browsing over Wi-Fi); a slimmer, 9-mm profile; and a weight of just 135 g (4.76 oz). That's for the phone only, of course. Dock the PadFone 2 with the PadFone 2 Station, and the total weight rises to 649 g (1.43 lbs). The PadFone 2 Station includes an extra 5000 mAh battery, which brings the rated 3G talk time to 36 hours. Asus claims the PadFone 2 Station's battery can even recharge the docked phone "three times over."

Other notable features include a 13-megapixel camera with 1080p video capture capabilities, up to 64GB of storage capacity (which is shared between the phone and docking tablet), and NFC connectivty.

Asus' announcement doesn't quote pricing, but it says the PadFone 2 will be available in Europe and Asia this December. Don't go looking for the device stateside, though. Asus adds that "availability in other countries will be announced at a later date."

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