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Asus Fonepad - A Compact Tablet Boasting 3G (Part 2)

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Your next Fone?

Technically, the Fonepad is a perfectly adequate smartphone. We had no complaints about call quality, although the quiet speaker on the bottom edge means it isn’t ideal as a speakerphone. Since it uses a near-stock Android 4.1.2, there’s very little wrong with the dialer or the contact-management side of things, either.

The Fonepad has its fair share of limitations, however. It’s far too broad to be comfortably used in one hand, and the matte rear of the device is slippery, making it difficult to hold it one hand securely. We’re not happy about the lack of Gorilla Glass on the front, either. You’ll have to take care; it will quickly pick up scrapes and scratches, especially if you use it as your main communications device.

It’s far too broad to be comfortably used in one hand

It’s far too broad to be comfortably used in one hand

Its size means it simply isn’t as practical to keep on or around you as a smaller device. In the car, you can’t simply drop it into any old cubbyhole, and if you pop out to the shops for a sandwich, you’ll need to be wearing a coat with extremely large pockets if you want to take it with you.

Still, for those who make only the occasional voice call, and don’t mind using a Bluetooth headset and leaving the Fonepad in a bag, it could make a ready replacement for phone and tablet. In fact, even if you choose not to take advantage of the calls capability, the 3G data modem is well worth having.

A small panel at the rear covers the SIM and microSD slots

A small panel at the rear covers the SIM and microSD slots

Software

As we’ve already mentioned, the Fonepad runs a version of Android 4.1.2 that’s very close to stock. However, Asus has tweaked it a little here and there.

The most significant of these alterations is the introduction of a selection of mini, pop-up apps, which appear in a row along the bottom of the screen when you tap the small arrow in the bottom-right corner. There are 12 apps in total, including a stopwatch utility, sticky notes, a to-do list and even a compact web browser and video player. It’s possible to run all these apps simultaneously, as if on a very small Windows desktop, although things become cluttered very quickly. Elsewhere, the changes are limited to bundled apps, which, as has become customary with Asus tablets, are numerous.

There are 12 apps in total, including a stopwatch utility, sticky notes, a to-do list and even a compact web browser and video player

There are 12 apps in total, including a stopwatch utility, sticky notes, a to-do list and even a compact web browser and video player

Asus Story provides a means for compiling photo albums, complete with animated page-turns; App Backup allows you to take snapshots of apps and their data in case you need to reinstall; and the handy App Locker utility allows you to password-protect certain apps and files - a godsend if you’re sharing the tablet with young children. There’s also a “lite” version of Asus’ excellent note-taking software, SuperNote; video editing in the shape of Movie Editor; and, if the excellent battery life just isn’t enough, a power-management tool that, among other things, allows you to set the tablet to adjust the screen brightness according to the app you’re using.

The Fonepad runs Android 4.1, with only a few small changes

Verdict

The Asus Fonepad has weaknesses, not least the fact you’ll have to wait on Asus for OS updates - with the Nexus 7, you get the latest version of Android as soon as it’s released. It isn’t very practical to use as an everyday smartphone, either. But, even if you think the phone capabilities are frivolous, there’s no denying the Fonepad packs a hell of a punch for a budget tablet. Indeed, it’s good enough to elbow the iPad mini off our A-List.

Asus Fonepad specs

Body  

  • Dimensions: 196.4 x 120.1 x 10.4 mm (7.73 x 4.73 x 0.41 in)
  • Weight: 340 g (11.99 oz)

Display          

  • Type: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
  • Size: 800 x 1280 pixels, 7.0 inches (~216 ppi pixel density)
  • Multitouch: Yes, up to 10 fingers

Sound

  • Alert types: Vibration, MP3 ringtones
  • Loudspeaker: Yes
  • 3.5mm jack: Yes

Memory         

  • Card slot: microSD, up to 32 GB
  • Internal: 8/16 GB, 1 GB RAM

Data   

  • GPRS: Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 - 48 kbps
  • EDGE: Class 10, 236.8 kbps
  • Speed: HSDPA 21 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
  • WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth: Yes, v3.0 with A2DP
  • USB: Yes, microUSB v2.0

Camera          

  • Primary: 3.15 MP, 2048x1536 pixels, autofocus (selected markets only)
  • Features: Geo-tagging
  • Video: Yes, 720p
  • Secondary: Yes, 1.2 MP

Features

  • OS: Android OS, v4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • Chipset: Intel Atom Z2420 / Intel Atom Z2460
  • CPU: 1.2 GHz / 1.6 GHz
  • GPU: PowerVR SGX540
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, compass
  • Messaging: (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
  • Browser: HTML5
  • Radio: No
  • GPS: Yes, with A-GPS support and GLONASS
  • Java: Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
  • Colors: Titanium Gray, Champagne Gold

Battery

  • Non-removable Li-Ion 4270 mAh battery (16 Wh)
  • Talk time: Up to 9 h

 

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