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Asus Fonepad review

Asus flexes its hybrid muscle once again with a 7-inch tablet that makes calls

Our Verdict

As a smartphone, its use is negligible. But as a tablet, the Asus FonePad shines just as brightly as its Google-branded cousin, and while the small-tablet market is crowded the FonePad stands out. It's well made and offers a good selection of features for a good price.

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 800

View full specification

For

  • Great LED-backlit screen
  • microSD storage
  • Premium metal chassis
  • Good battery life

Against

  • No rear camera
  • Poor speakers
  • Nexus 7 cheaper
  • Impractical for calls

Apps

The Asus FonePad comes with plenty of pre-loaded apps including Google stablemates you'd expect to see such as Google+, Calendar, Gmail, Voice Search, Movie Studio and Google Earth. Along with this, Asus has thrown in a couple of its own apps for good measure.

Apps 1

Asus Studio is your go-to alternative for movies and photos. The movie player is similar to Google's own, but the photo part of the app lets you catalogue your photos into albums and add in geotagged locations.

This works nicely with Asus Story, an app that lets you create collages of photos and flip through them like an ink-and-paper photo album.

You can factor in social networks by sharing your albums on Facebook, Google+ or Picasa. It has a distinctly iOS-like appearance as the homescreen is a wood-panelled bookshelf holding your albums ready for inspection.

Apps 2

App Locker and App Backup are two apps designed to help with security. The first allows you to password protect each of your app shortcuts while the latter creates backups for app data on your local storage.

You're given a social network aggregator in the form of the Asus BuddyBuzz app.

This appears as a large widget on one of the homescreens and collects your Twitter and Facebook feeds in one place.

You can organise the updates either by status updates, photos, videos or links, or just have everything thrown at you at once. BuddyBuzz is also useful for posting to your own profiles and uploading images.

Maps

When it comes to Maps, the FonePad offers the latest version of Google's service, with plenty of features including free turn-by-turn navigation. This works exceptionally well with the FonePad which can rely on its 3G connection to make sure you're travelling in the right direction.

Stuck for something to do round your local area? Maps will pull up nearby restaurants, attractions and, most importantly, pubs for you to check out.

Apps 4

The suggestions are either recommended via reviewers or flagged up from Google+ posts by your friends.

As usual, there's the option to choose layers on Maps and Google has added in traffic and public transport lines that can make navigating a city like London a great deal easier.

You can still add markers, known as "My Places", to the map, which are then saved for quick access during navigation.

Maps is easily one of the stars of Android and Google has responded to the controversy surrounding Apple Maps by keeping its own service fluid and innovative.

Given the portability and 3G capabilities of the FonePad, having Maps on board is incredibly useful when you're out and about and need to find the nearest watering hole.

Gallery

The gallery app is a quiet but useful addition to the OS and will collect together your photos from different locations. Subdivided into folders with a cover image, gallery will pull in photos from the 16GB internal storage as well as from the microSD card and Picasa or Blogger accounts. Videos are stored separately and will play directly from the app.

Of course, the apps loaded on the FonePad are the tip of the proverbial iceberg as Google Play offers you the choice of over 800,000 third-party creations to enjoy. And recent news that Google is clearing out 60,000 low-grade apps means things can only get better.

One of the biggest criticisms of Google Play is the free-for-all approach that Mountain View has taken with regards to submission. There are plenty of shoddy apps knocking around and Apple fans are right to boast about the quality control that Cupertino levies over its developers. However, there are no shortage of games and personalisation apps that will allow you to tweak and alter Jelly Bean.

In terms of gaming, the PowerVR SGX540 GPU comes in to help the Intel Atom processor when you start using graphics-heavy 3D titles like Grand Theft Auto III. The result is that it easily competes with the smoothness of its Tegra 3 counterparts when you start gaming.

The smaller chassis means it's not unwieldy in your hands, and for games where movement is necessary, the FonePad works well. While most of the big-name games (such as GTA) are present on Google Play, the overall choice still doesn't quite measure up to Apple's App Store.

Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Flash Memory Capacity16 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
GPSYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, GPRS, UMTS, HSPA+
Product FamilyFonepad
Cellular Network SupportedGSM, WCDMA, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformAndroid
Processor ModelZ2420
ColourGrey
Operating SystemAndroid 4.1 Jelly Bean
Brand NameAsus
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Processor TypeAtom
Screen Size17.8 cm (7")
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Weight (Approximate)340 g
Memory Card ReaderYes
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Cellular Generation3.9G
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Height196.4 mm
Width120.1 mm
Depth10.4 mm
ManufacturerASUS Computer International
Product NameFonepad Tablet
Product LineFonepad
Manufacturer Part NumberME371MG-1B035A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://uk.asus.com
Marketing Information

ASUS fonepad™

Fun and Call in One

ASUS Fonepad features an Intel Atom Z2420 CPU and has a built-in 3G phone. The beautifully designed metallic finish and the 7" IPS display combine for your multimedia enjoyment.

Design Gallery
Close Up

Stunning 7" metallic finish design to fit in your palm. Fonepad is a tablet that retains the flexibility of a smartphone, but removes the need to carry two different devices.

Talk Anywhere
Always Connected

Full 3G telephony support means Fonepad can be an always-connected for seamless web browsing, and smooth streaming of audio and video. Fonepad can also be used for voice calls using the built-in noise-cancelling dual-mic or a Bluetooth headset and with just one mobile data plan to pay for, running costs are much lower than a separate smartphone and 3G tablet.

Limited Warranty1 Year