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Asus Fonepad review

Verdict

An absolute bargain of a compact tablet, whether or not you choose to employ the phone features

Review Date: 16 Apr 2013

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £150 (£180 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £147
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

The Asus Fonepad is a curious mix of devices: it's a 7in tablet with 3G and a smartphone too; a fully fledged handset complete with an integrated earpiece and microphone, so you can go all Dom Joly making phone calls on the bus home.

In reality, the chief appeal of the Fonepad, aside from providing a talking point down the pub, is that it's exceedingly good value. It will set you back only £180, and when you think of what you're getting for that money – a smartphone and a 7in 3G tablet similar to the Nexus 7 in one handy package – it's a remarkable buy.

Asus Fonepad

Fonepad vs Nexus 7

The physical similarity between the Fonepad and the Nexus 7 is striking, and perhaps shouldn't be all that surprising given that the two tablets are made by the same company. The screen surround is the same width, the screen itself is the same resolution at 800 x 1,280 and size (giving a pixel density of 216ppi), and it employs the same IPS technology as well. In the UK, the Fonepad is available with only a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera – just like the Nexus 7.

However, there are big differences between the two tablets elsewhere. Take the rear panel: the Fonepad is made of smooth, matte plastic where the Nexus 7's is textured and rubbery, and there's a pop-off panel at the top for access to the tablet's SIM and microSD card slots. The Nexus 7 had no way of expanding storage; the Fonepad, on the other hand, can accommodate another 32GB on top of its internal 16GB.

Asus Fonepad

The other big difference lies inside the Fonepad: it sports a single-core, hyperthreaded 1.2GHz Intel Atom Z2420 CPU and 1GB of RAM instead of the quad-core, 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 of the Nexus 7. Despite the discrepancy in the number of cores, performance is comparable. In the stock Android browser, we recorded a score of 1,240ms in the Sunspider test and it achieved 2,935 in Quadrant – switching to Chrome as the main browser wouldn't complete the test – and a Peacekeeper result of 348.

In general use, the Fonepad feels fluid and responsive. Swiping from homescreen to homescreen, panning and scrolling was a pleasant experience, and it handled all the demanding games we threw at it, from Real Racing 3 to Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, with hardly any frames dropped at all.

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User comments

Battery life as a Tablet?

Could you test the battery as a tablet only please (ie cellular off)? Would like to see how it gets on versus the Nexus 7 (reviewed as 8hrs 48mins running a video on loop).
I could see this being used as a tablet, with a phone as emergencies. The SD slot justifies it above the Nexus 7.

By randomtoast on 16 Apr 2013

Dual Core?

You're saying the Z2420 processor is dual-core but everywhere else it is stated to be single-core with HyperThreading. What's correct?

By jrisch on 17 Apr 2013

Gorilla Glass

You say you're unhappy with the lack of Gorilla glass. This is the same as the Nexus 7, isn't it?

By jrisch on 17 Apr 2013

Looking interesting

Slim it down a bit,add gorilla glass and a 1080p screen and they maybe onto something here.Maybe call it the Note or something similar....oh wait....!

By Jaberwocky on 17 Apr 2013

battery life

by "a day of syncing Gmail"
do you mean 24 hours with 3G on and enabled sync?
w/ possibly wifi,BT off and screen off except for mentioned tasks ?

By storm311 on 17 Apr 2013

Dual Core

Good spot jrisch. That's my mistake on the dual-core thing. Now corrected.

Jonathan Bray,
PC Pro.

By JonBray on 17 Apr 2013

Battery life scores

Hi all. Just to clarify, the looping video test we ran was with flight mode enabled (ie all radios off) and the screen set to half brightness. We did this so we could compare with other tablets we've tested.

The 24-hour phone test was run with the 3G radio enabled, but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disabled. The screen was off apart from during the hour we force the screen on, although it is on for a short while as we initiate the phone call, download the file and play back audio.

Jonathan Bray,
Reviews editor,
PC Pro.

By JonBray on 17 Apr 2013

Micro USB charger or proprietary?

I recently bought a Nexus 7 and was pleased to see it used a standard micro USB charger - meaning that it's easy to find a spare charger almost anywhere, unlike the Asus Prime I used before, with its sort-of-Apple-but-not type plug.

In fact for me at least this basic aspect of user-friendliness is so important I'm disappointed you don't give it higher priority in reviews like this. So which does the Fonepad use?

By Noghar on 17 Apr 2013

Micro USB charger or proprietary?

It uses microUSB for charging.

By jrisch on 18 Apr 2013

Screen

If the Nexus 7 has special glass, I haven't noticed as one of ours incurred a cracked screen after a short-distance fall onto a carpeted floor. We have 3 in our house, and the remaining 2 are now kept in heavily padded cases. I don't feel confident using mine on the move though... Maybe PC Pro should do drop tests, or watch them online!?

By stefani on 18 Apr 2013

'droid on Intel pitfalls

As an owner of an Atom chipped Orange San Diego running ICS, there are some significant issues issues with using
Android on Intel. The BBC iPlayer App doesn't work, for one. Chrome is currently broken too (worked in January, broken by the February release). Apparently, any app hard-coded to a particular ARM graphics library fails when it hits the Atom (search the Modaco forums for details). Rooting and replacing can be a fix, if you so choose...

By timcat2 on 19 Apr 2013

Purchased one thinking it would be a better buy than a Nexus 7 as it`s 3g, just wanted a tablet, not a humungous phone. Now it seems that it does not work with a data only sim.

I use a `3` data only sim which costs about £12 for 3 months or 3gb in my ipad, won`t work in the Fonepad, put in the Voda sim from my phone, both phone and internet work fine.

Is there any way round this. Or any phone sim with the same amount of date allowance for the same sort of price as above?

If not, it may be going back.

Thanks

By Encantador1 on 12 May 2013

Rear camera missing (or not)?

When I read this review I thought I'd like to try one, but saw there's no rear camera. This is a deal breaker for me as I use the camera way more than I ever expected to - really handy with photos immediately available in my Dropbox to send from my desktop.

Then I found another recent review of apparently the same product, but with a rear camera.

http://reviews.cnet.com/tablets/asus-fonepad/4505-
3126_7-35619221.html

As this isn't mentioned in the review, some clarification of this important feature would be welcome.

By tolqua on 17 May 2013

Rear camera missing (or not)?

When I read this review I thought I'd like to try one, but saw there's no rear camera. This is a deal breaker for me as I use the camera way more than I ever expected to - really handy with photos immediately available in my Dropbox to send from my desktop.

Then I found another recent review of apparently the same product, but with a rear camera.

http://reviews.cnet.com/tablets/asus-fonepad/4505-
3126_7-35619221.html

As this isn't mentioned in the review, some clarification of this important feature would be welcome.

By tolqua on 17 May 2013

Is it really that slow with so little memory.

The review spec shows processor speed as 1Mhz and Ram as 1MB - Gig maybe?

By MDB5638 on 25 May 2013

What's the charging time?

One thing missing from all these reviews is the charging time, which I think should be mentioned.

Sure it's got a big battery, but it also takes a humungous time to charge. I ran my Fonepad flat over the weekend, then timed the charge. It took nearly nine hours!

I was reminded of this when I saw Tesla's press announcement last week of battery swapping in its cars. That made me think: Is USB really the best way of charging small devices? Can't there be a fast-charge mode?

By grannybuttons on 24 Jun 2013

No 4G

just seems a bit odd how hard can it be to include it...

By pchealer on 9 Aug 2013

Rear camera, Asus phonepad

Apparently the extra camera model is available on the Amazon.it website.

By ronmoule on 15 Aug 2013

Superbly engineered device

As an owner of this device I can confirm it represents outstanding value for money and is very well engineered. It is a multimedia device with internet access over 3G and wifi, full telephony and organisational tools. A great all in one solution. Strongly recommended.

By ericklamothe on 12 Dec 2013

How to fix Asus Fonepad Any Battery Problem

Is you android tablet/ Asus Fonepad battery completely drained off? Is your tablet not turning ON? Is your tablet not charging? Is your battery showing a question mark?
Solution is simple and easy. Please check the link and like it :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpXLenJaks8&featur
e=youtu.be

Thanks,
Sonali

By SonaliBhaumik on 26 Mar 2014

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