Tablets with voice-calling capabilities seem to be the order of the day. As ridiculous as the concept may be, this new trend has already caught on like wild fire in India and it’s not uncommon to see hipsters talking on their tablet instead of a phone. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 P3100 has been the tablet of choice for many and seeing this trend, we have others jumping on this bandwagon too. Asus’s initial concept of a phone that could transform into a tablet (PadFone) didn’t fly well with consumers so now they’ve taken the simpler route, adding calling functionality to a tablet. The FonePad is priced in competition with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 P3100, which will soon be replaced by the Tab 3, a supposedly slimmer and lighter version of the Tab 2.
Design and Build
The FonePad’s design is loosely based on the MeMO Pad, another 7-inch tablet that never really made it to the Indian market. The tablet has a sizeable bezel, which is just enough to be held comfortably with both hands without making it look ugly. The glossy front is a real pain to keep clean as it attracts fingerprints very easily. The tablet is comfortable to hold with one hand which ought to be since it also doubles up as a phone. We liked the matt finish for the back cover which protects the non-removable battery. The power and volume rocker are placed on one side and along the sloped edge, which is not the most ergonomic of placements. We have a rear facing camera as well and the speaker grille is all the way to the bottom. The flap above the camera can be removed to insert the microSIM and microSD card. Finally, the headphone jack and microUSB port are placed at the bottom.
Overall, the FonePad is another well-built, sturdy device from Asus. The dimensions make it very comfortable to hold although the button placement could have been better.
SIM and microSD card slots
The FonePad is fitted with a high-quality IPS display which sports a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. The panel manages to produce vibrant and punchy colours and the LED backlight is strong enough for outdoor use as well. The display also has very good viewing angles as there’s very little to no colour shift when viewed at an angle. The tablet runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean which is lightly skinned. There are toggle switches in the notification bar which can be moved around, a power saving mode and a selection of floating apps. The floating app list lets you use the calculator; watch a video, etc. while performing other tasks. The problem is that it’s a bit sluggish and that’s mainly due to the Intel SoC onboard.
Easy to use UI
The FonePad uses the same Intel Lexington-based Z2420 Atom SoC that we first saw on the XOLO X500. Even with 1GB of RAM, the SoC isn’t the fastest and it shows when you try to switch between apps or load a heavy game like Dead Trigger.
Asus hasn’t messed around too much with the stock music player, which is not a bad thing since Jelly Bean comes with a pretty mean player. You can sort your songs by Recent, Albums, Artists, Songs, Playlists or Genre. The player has a clean look to it and you even get audio enhancements by default. The great bit is that the player also supports FLAC files. The audio quality is good with a decent pair of earphones and the volume is quite loud even without the enhancements. The volume level of the speakers is not very good though for music or movies but alerts are still very audible.
Decent media playback
The stock video player and the one by Asus only recognises MP4 files but MX Player extends the format support quite a bit. 1080p videos play flawlessly but not through the floating video player app.