Asus FonePad review
7 in 1,280x800 display, 340g, 1.2GHz Intel Atom Z2420, 1.00GB RAM, 16GB disk, Android 4.1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.