The Asus Padfone 2 was unveiled publicly today at a packed event in Milan. The quirky phone-cum-tablet device looks to crack two ends of the market, potentially bringing your phone and tablet needs together into one hybrid package.
The brains of the outfit is the phone, which slots into the rear of the parasite display - or Station, as Asus calls it - meaning you can boost that 4.7-inch display up to 10.1-inches, if you want to go big for watching movies, for example.
The advantage of the Padfone 2 is that you don't need a second device that essentially does the same thing as the first; you don't need to worry about syncing, because the phone has all the files on it already, rather than having two devices chewing at your Google or Asus Cloud accounts.
Of course the downside is that you might be in the middle of watching the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy on Netflix when your grandmother calls. But you can literally just slip the phone out of the Station: it's an incredibly smooth, yet secure piece of engineering.
Asus has been riding a design high in 2012 and the Padfone 2 is a testament to the good work it has been doing. The tablet, although an accessory, feels well built and well considered. There's a feeling of quality to the materials and even though finished in plastics, it's solid yet lightweight.
Then there's the benefit of a second internal battery, so you don't have to worry about draining your phone: on busy days, docking the phone will see it charged by the display, with Asus claiming 3x battery life when the Station is included.
The phone itself is also neatly designed. The sleek lines challenge the top-tier smartphones out there. Asus might not be a big name in smartphones, but it certainly knows design, as the Transformer tablets and ZenBook PCs demonstrate.
The Padfone 2 might be the device to change opinion, though. It looks and feels great. The specs and dimensions are impressive. It might be a touch on the expensive side at €799 (approx £645) for the 32GB version, but that includes the Station, so you're getting two devices for that.
Asus has at least ramped up the spec to the max in the Padfone 2. Starting with the display, you get a 4.7-inch, 1280 x 720 pixel resolution Super IPS+ panel, with a cracking 312ppi. It's finished in Corning Fit Glass and it looks stunning. It also boasts a 550 nits brightness, so will be good for indoor and outdoor use. It certainly looks vibrant, with nice rich colours and excellent viewing angles.
Internally you have a powerful quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, clocked at 1.5GHz, backed with 2GB of RAM. Although we didn't have the chance to run any intensive applications on the Padfone during our play at the launch event in Milan, we were impressed by the fluidity and speed of navigation around the OS.
Asus has left Android 4.0 relatively unsullied in the Padfone, which we like. However, there are some considered tweaks, such as the addition of a "pad only" section in the apps tray. That's where you'll find your tablet-specific apps, so they're easy to get to.
There have been some tweaks made to the camera, too. With a 13-megapixel sensor on the rear, Asus is claiming continuous capture of up to 100 shots, at a rate of 6fps. Nice shootin' Tex. Although we're yet to see the quality of the resultant images, or the 1080p or 60fps 720p video it will capture, it sounds compelling.
The great thing is being able to slide the phone into the tablet to preview those images or share them with those around you instantly.
We like the considered approach that Asus has made with the Padfone 2. It's easy to mock those who dare to be different, but we like the results here. It focuses on delivering impressive specs in a neatly designed package, and our only concern is whether people will be drawn to Asus for their next smartphone.
Asus has confirmed to us that it will be on sale in the UK in early 2013, price to be confirmed. Of course, we'll bring you a full Padfone 2 review when we get our hands on one.