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Asus FonePad review

  • Asus FonePad
  • Asus FonePad
  • Asus FonePad
  • Asus FonePad
  • Asus FonePad
  • Asus FonePad

Verdict:

It’ll suit few people as a smartphone, but the FonePad excels as a 3G tablet

Review Date: 25 Apr 2013

Price when reviewed: £180

Buy it now for: £162
(see more store prices)

Supplier: http://www.carphonewarehouse.com

Reviewed By: Tom Morgan

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

User Rating 4 stars out of 5

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Asus is no stranger to 7in tablets, having manufactured the Google Nexus 7. Now Asus has created a 7in tablet of its own, dubbed the FonePad. As the name suggests, it isn’t just a tablet – the Asus Fonepad has a SIM card slot and is able to make calls like a smartphone.

Asus FonePad
Spot the difference, the Fonepad is a close relative of the Google-branded Nexus 7

It looks very similar to the Nexus 7, although the power and volume keys have switched sides from the right to the left of the device. The Micro USB port and 3.5mm headset audio jack are still on the bottom edge. It also weighs the same as the Wi-Fi-only version of the Nexus 7: 340g.

One difference can be found at the rear of the tablet, as the dimpled soft-touch plastic finish has been replaced with a smooth brushed metal effect cover. There’s also a MicroSD card slot for adding additional storage to the 16GB internal flash storage. This a significant advantage over the non-upgradeable Nexus 7. The cover is held in place tightly and takes two thumbs to push it off, so is unlikely to be dislodged accidentally.

Asus FonePad

It’s on the inside that Asus has made the major changes. Instead of sticking with an Nvidia Tegra chipset, the FonePad is powered by an Intel Atom Z2420 processor, which is something of a departure from almost all the other 7in devices we’ve seen. Most Android apps now run on Intel hardware, though you might find the odd one still that's not compatible.

It’s a dual-core chip running at 1.2GHz, paired with 1GB of RAM. It’s very snappy, handling all of Android’s transitions, animations and widgets smoothly, switching between apps with only a tiny delay and responding instantly to touch inputs.

ATOMIC POWER

The benchmark scores don’t completely reflect this. The FonePad managed a respectable 1,545 in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, but could only produce a below average 2,215 in 3DMark, which is roughly over 1,000 points less than the Nexus 7’s result. We could still play games smoothly, but it wasn’t quite as smooth as other, more powerful tablets. You also don’t get the graphical effects exclusive to Nvidia’s Tegra chipsets.

Intel’s Atom processor is fairly frugal when it comes to battery life, though. The FonePad lasted an incredible twelve hours and 58 minutes in our battery test, which is among the best results we’ve seen from a smartphone. It can’t compete with the Galaxy Note II’s exceptional 17 hours, but it’s still a great result, and the FonePad lasted almost three hours longer than the Nexus 7.

We’re fairly certain that the FonePad’s 7in, 1,280x800 resolution display is using the same IPS panel found in the Nexus 7, as they’re visually identical when sat side-by-side; at least, they are when you enable Outdoor mode, as Asus limits the backlight brightness in its standard 'Indoor' setting.

Asus FonePad
Having options for the display is an unusual but pleasant inclusion

Colours are vibrant and photos, in particular, look great. At 216 pixels-per-inch, both text and images looked perfectly sharp from an average viewing distance, although if you look very closely you can spot the individual pixel structure. If you aren’t happy with colour temperature, hue or saturation, you can use the Asus Splendid app to adjust image quality to your liking. Sadly, the UK FonePad only has a front-facing 1.2-megapixel webcam for making video calls, not a rear-facing camera.

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