asus-padfone-2-angle-rightIt takes a lot to turn heads in today’s market. You can increase a screen size, make a device thinner, and implement an array of colors. But it’s all been done. We want — no, expect — more. With 2012 quickly coming to a close, simply introducing a few one-up incremental updates isn’t enough.

ASUS seems to understand this all too well, which makes the PadFone 2 so exciting.

Sure, the company doesn’t command Prize Fight-level attention. But ASUS has quietly been churning out some of the industry’s most solid efforts, slowly carving out a reputation with its Transformer line in particular. And while it’s challenged in the smartphone market before, the PadFone 2 might be something that’ll finally stand toe-to-toe with some of the mobile champs.

It’ll all depend on market reception, of course, but the specs and forward-thinking innovation is evident. Where the original PadFone laid the groundwork, the PadFone 2 is erecting a Burj Khalifa. This isn’t simply a smartphone. ASUS has constructed a handset that can easily dock into a station, allowing users to seamlessly transform their device into a tablet. That right there has the potential to stand it taller than the crowd.

The PadFone 2 comes equipped with a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core prcoessor, LTE, 2GB of RAM, and a 13-megapixel camera with f/2.4 aperture that ASUS claims has no shutter lag. In addition, the handset has a 4.7-inch (1280×720) Super IPS+ display with Corning Fit Glass, and 550 nits brightness for optimal outdoor viewing.

Digging deeper internally, the sequel sports a 2140mAh battery (16 hours of 3G talk-time and 13 hours of Wi-Fi Web browsing), 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of internal storage, and carries a thickness and weight of 9mm and 135g, respectively. If you purchase the optional docking station, screen size will increase to 10.1-inch (1280×800, WXGA), and give users an extra 5000mAh battery.

“Our relentless drive to innovate through Design Thinking has empowered us to create [the] PadFone 2,” said ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih. “It’s beautiful, it’s fast, it’s seamless and, best of all, it’s intuitive.”

The only knock — and it’s an important one — is that the device will launch running Ice Cream Sandwich, with Jelly Bean promised to come shortly after. ASUS doesn’t mess around with OS upgrades, so we’d expect the update to arrive pretty close to the PadFone 2’s arrival, which is encouraging. The company said the device will arrive before the end of 2012 in Europe and Asia, with further availability to be announced at a later date. Hopefully we’ll hear more about a North American launch soon.

It would be a mighty shame if this wasn’t available to U.S. consumers during the holiday season.