Asus Fonepad review: hands-on first look
We go hands on with Asus' Fonepad, a 7-inch Intel-powered Android tablet with 3G data and call capability
Asus’ Fonepad caught everyone by surprise at this year’s Mobile World Congress – it’s a tablet, but not as we know it, because it’s also a phone.
We’ve been lucky enough to get some solo hands-on time with the device to give you our initial impressions.
First of all, Asus has clearly learned plenty from its co-operation with Google on the Nexus 7, in fact a pretty good way of describing the Fonepad’s build is a Nexus 7 but stripped down and put on a strict diet – it’s thinner, lighter and the layer of textured rubber isn’t there.
The Fonepad is made from brushed aluminium in typical Asus style and shares plenty of design cues with the Transformer tablet range, including the choice of colours – Champagne Gold and Titanium Grey.
As usual, the fit and finish is top-tier stuff and it’s very luxurious to handle. You’ve also got the usual generous array of ports and connectivity options including microUSB, a 3.5mm headphone jack, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G via microSIM and microSD support for up to 32GB.
Power comes from a 1.2GHz Intel Atom Z2420 single-core chip and performance is reasonably snappy from our time with the device.
It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Asus’ fairly unobtrusive UI. This is customisable and on the model we were shown Asus’ reps had added a fourth touch control to the usual Android trio (home, multitasking, back) which allows you to bring up a widget carousel for running windowed apps, such as a moveable video window. Importantly, none of this caused slowdown.
Asus chose the Intel chip for its battery friendly properties, particularly important when the tablet can also make calls. Battery life is pegged at 9-10 hours.
For calls the Fonepad features dual microphone input and noise cancellation while the speaker setup has been developed with Bose.
The display is something to behold, it’s a 7-inch IPS LCD with a 1280x800 pixel resolution which produces beautifully crisp image quality. Brightness and colour depth are both strong and viewing angles extend to 178 degrees.
Asus says the point of the Fonepad is for users who primarily want a tablet device for consuming content or productivity, but who also may need to make occasional calls.
Asus’ reps said they think it’s unlikely users would spend much time talking directly into the device as Bluetooth peripherals are readily available.
Our impression is that the Fonepad is a typically well-executed device from Asus. It’s a bit weird, in the same way that the Galaxy Note 8.0 having phone connectivity threw us somewhat, and it would appear this may be in increasing trend.
A key deciding factor though, phone connectivity or not, will be the price point. Asus is planning to release the Fonepad in ‘late Q2 2013’ with the UK receiving the 16GB model for £179.
For all that the device offers that’s a pretty low tag and could make it a very attractive prospect with consumers.