“The tablet-smartphone hybrid offers good performance and some great features as well”
Asus is known for offering innovative products, and quite a few devices coming from this brand have managed to impress users globally. The Asus Fonepad is one example of such a device that garnered global appreciation. The Fonepad offers the functionality of a tablet along with voice calling capabilities. Now in its second generation, the 2013 edition of the Fonepad gets better hardware and some new features that bring it at par with other calling tablets available in the market. Let’s find out how well this slate fares when subjected to the test.
It’s glossy and it’s plasticComparing the Asus Fonepad with its predecessor, the company has paid a great deal of attention to the look and feel of the device. As compared to the last year’s device, the new Fonepad gets a glossy body, which looks good and also offers a white variant. The construction mainly includes use of polycarbonate plastic all around the 7-inch display, making the device lightweight. In terms of durability, the Fonepad seems quite sturdy, but it’s difficult to get rid of the plasticky feel and we’d definitely have preferred use of metal, even at the risk of increase in weight. The front features a scratch-resistant glass surface, which unfortunately, isn’t Gorilla Glass but is still good for protection against scratches and accidental knocks. The surface however, features an oleo-phobic coating but you will find stubborn smudges on the display after some time of use. The 2013 Fonepad, in contrast to the older version, gets stereo speakers that have been placed on the front… great for watching movies and playing games. The power key has been placed on the right side along with the volume rocker for easy access and the audio connector is comfortably placed on top of the device, convenient to access even if you are using a generic case or a soft pouch to keep the slate safe.
Standard tablet design with few alterationsIn terms of look and feel, the Asus Fonepad is not too different from any other 7-inch Android tablet available in the market today, but the designers have tried their best to make the product unique and appealing to the users. The front is black in both the white and slate options. The bezel is marginally slimmer as compared to the older Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 but surprisingly, the width of the device remains similar. The Fonepad gets single-SIM connectivity with support for 3G networks. For this, the company has chosen a micro-SIM design and the slot is placed on the left side of the device. The plasticky SIM tray however, is a great disappointment and feels very flimsy. The Fonepad also gets support for microSD cards and the corresponding slot has been placed on the right side under the volume rocker key. Surprisingly, the slot is open and that leaves it prone to accumulation of dust in the long run. The Fonepad is lightweight but its size does not allow for single-handed usage. In addition, the edge on top of the earpiece could be a cause for discomfort while talking. There has always been a scarcity of accessories for the Asus Fonepad and we hope that it will not be repeated, but considering its similar size most generic accessories like soft cases should be compatible with it. One innovation Asus has included in the box is a flexible stand, which actually is a part of packaging, but offers great utility especially for multimedia use.
Great IPS display for a tabletThe Asus Fonepad has a 7-inch display and for that the company has opted for an in-plane-switching (IPS) technology based LCD. The IPS technology assures good colour contrast along with optimum viewing angles, and the display on the Fonepad offers the very best. The colour reproduction is great and vibrant, resulting in lively visuals. Be it multimedia or productivity, it does full justice to everything. Having said that, we feel the brightness levels are a tad on the lower side, resulting in poor sunlight legibility, but it’s fine indoors even in brightly-lit rooms. The display features 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution, which is fine for a 7-inch tablet and there is no visible pixilation noticed at any point. The touchscreen is a delight to use and the sensitivity settings are just perfect.
Snapper offers good imageryThe device features a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera that is good enough for video conferencing and nothing more, not even selfies. At the back, there’s a 5-megapixel autofocus camera which works well though, and can also record full HD resolution videos. The quality of the camera is good in bright and medium light conditions but in low light, the images turn out to be grainy and dark. One of the reasons is the absence of flash but considering it is a tablet device, asking for a flash would be little too much. However, in general, the camera is good and offers usable results as well.
Android candy with a custom interfaceThe Fonepad gets a custom user interface based on Google Android Jellybean 4.2. Nevertheless, the custom interface is not very different form the stock interface offered on Android 4.2 and the device can be used right out of the box without having any need to get used to it. Asus has preloaded a couple of apps on the Fonepad for extending the utility of the device. Along with that Asus has also added its cloud storage app on the device, offering 5GB of additional storage along with the 16GB inbuilt storage on the device. Additionally, users can also expand the storage by 64GB with use of microSD cards. There’s a handy preloaded battery-saving app that lets users choose between full performance on the device or reduce some of its functions in order to conserve the battery.
Fast Intel processor offers great performanceGone are the days when affordable tablets used to be underpowered computing devices, suited just for very basic of tasks including e-book reading and web browsing. Asus Fonepad changes all that with a fast Intel Atom Z2560 processor. This dual-core processor is clocked at 1.6GHz and offers speedy computing experience for this device in most tasks. Coupled with 1GB of RAM, the Fonepad offers smooth multitasking, which most users would love about this device. While a dual-core processor might not sound powerful enough, it actually offers decent performance comparable to Android smartphones within the same price range. In terms of productivity, the 7-inch display comes in very handy and the extra real estate helps users get more things done than just scrolling around. HD gaming might not be one of the strongholds of the Fonepad, but HD video playback certainly comes out quite well on its 720p display. The hardware combination works well on the device and offers speedy performance all around. At any point through the course of the review, we never felt the need to restart the device and it stayed smooth.
VerdictThe Asus Fonepad comes with a price tag of Rs 17,999, but is available in the market at Rs 13,000 approximately. As a tablet, it’s speedy, responsive, and good for gaming as well. As a smartphone, it offers 3G connectivity and calling facility. All this makes it a great hybrid device that, as we have mentioned earlier, offers performance comparable to smartphones within the same price range. Having said so, the major competition to the Asus Fonepad comes from the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 T211 which currently retails for Rs 15,000 approximately. At that price the Tab 3 offers inferior hardware specifications which would result in lower performance as compared to the Fonepad. Notwithstanding the better hardware, the Fonepad is tad too plasticky. The tablet certainly lacks the premium appeal especially considering its MRP. All in all, the Fonepad offers up to a day and a half worth of battery backup between recharges, thanks to its 3,950mAh li-polymer pack. If you’re indulging in resource-intensive activities like gaming the backup is reduced to about 4-5 hours, which is not too bad considering the amount of additional load games put on the device’s battery. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a capable tablet with voice calling capabilities, the Asus Fonepad 7 is definitely a strong contender.
Price: Rs 17,999
Editor’s rating: 8/10
- Great display
- Good performance
- Good battery life
- Plasticky build
- Low sunlight legibility