Asus really needs to come up with some better names for its devices. Recently we reviewed a device called the PadFone, which is a smartphone that can be housed in a docking station making it a 10-inch tablet. The PadFone tablet can then be housed in a keyboard dock making it an Android netbook. Today we have with us a 7-inch tablet with the ability to house a SIM card slot and make calls (apart from provide 3G connectivity). Asus has decided to call this device a FonePad.
Just because of the FonePad’s ability to make calls, Asus has categorized the device as a phablet – works like a tablet and makes calls. At first glance, the FonePad seems like any other 7-inch tablet. It has a 7-inch display in the front with a 1280x800 pixel resolution. The panel is IPS, which means that the viewing angles will be great. The biggest downside to the display is that it doesn’t have Gorilla Glass or any other form of protective coating to save it from scratches. This is the biggest disadvantage of the display.
With the worst out of the way, the rest of the tablet isn’t so bad. To start with, it is powered by the Intel Atom Z2420 CPU clocked at 1.2GHz along with 1GB of RAM. This is the same chipset we have seen on the Xolo X500. Its performance, however, is something that we will judge once we have the tablet in our labs and have put it through its paces.
The rear of the FonePad tablet has a metallic grey finish to it, which is really nice to look at. The tablet has an overall premium finish too. The rear of the tablet also has the 3MP camera without an LED flash. The camera also has the ability to shoot video in 720p HD. Just above the camera we have the second microphone. The panel above the camera is removable and this is where you can insert the microSD card and the SIM card.
In terms of its connectivity options, the FonePad has the micro USB port and the headphones jack at the bottom. The volume rocker and the power switch rest to the left of the device. The front of the FonePad has a 7-inch display. Above the display you have the earpiece and the 1.2MP front facing camera.
Straight out of the box, the tablet runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Asus says that the tablet will be upgradable to Android 4.2 as well. If you have used an Asus Android Tablet in the past, you will feel right at home with the interface. It is skinned but not as much as TouchWiz for example.
A cool feature of the FonePad tablet is that it has what Asus calls Floating Apps. These are apps that appear as small windows on the display. We have seen this ability to “pop up” apps on the display on the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, LG Optimus G and the Samsung Galaxy Note 800. The only downside here is that if you want to access content in the background, you will have to close the floating app. Unlike the Optimus G, where you can control the opacity of the app to access background content, here you will have to close the floating app.
The bottom of the FonePad's display has four capacitive buttons. These buttons are on the display just like we have seen on the Nexus devices. These buttons are hack, home, multitasking and floating apps. The last button gives you access to a bunch of floating apps. You can choose which apps to hose in the tray that pops up with the push of the capacitive button.
The keyboard on the FonePad tablet gives you access to alphabets as well as the numbers. The keyboard was quite comfortable to type on in portrait mode.
Overall, we are impressed with what we have seen of the FonePad so far. The build is good, interface smooth and the display looks crisp. The lack of Gorilla Glass is a bummer. How the hardware performs in the real world and compared to competing tablets is something we will comment on once we have the tablet in for review. The Asus FonePad is priced at Rs. 15,999 and will be available in stores from the last week of April.