Hands On With The Asus FonePad, A 7-Inch Tablet That Makes Phone Calls [MWC 2013]
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS — Have you ever wanted to make a phone call on your tablet? No, me neither, but clearly someone at Asus has. Here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Taiwanese company is showing off its new FonePad, a 7-inch tablet that makes phone calls just like a smartphone.
The device costs just $249, and it has mid-range specifications that will allow it to compete with devices like the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. But is its special feature worth the extra cash?
Like the Asus PadFone Infinity that I got my hands on yesterday, it’s hard to tell who the FonePad is actually aimed at. It seems it’s a device that attempts to do more than it needs to just so that Asus can add another feature to its list of specifications.
The hardware isn’t bad, however. The device has a smooth metal back that feels good in the hand, while its 1280×800 IPS display is as good as you’ll get from Google’s 7-inch offering. It’s powered by a 1.2GHz Intel Atom Z2420 processor, which is accompanied by 1GB of RAM and a PowerVR SGX540 GPU.
The device is nice and snappy, and showed no signs of struggling when I was playing with its apps and games at the Asus booth. It’s running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean that’s almost stock, aside from a few Asus tweaks, such as widgets and custom apps.
The FonePad’s 4,270mAh battery promises to provide up to nine hours of runtime, while its microSD card slot allows you to add an additional 32GB of storage to the 16GB that comes inside it. There are also two cameras — a 3-megapixel one on the back, and a 1.2-megapixel one on the front.
The rear-facing camera takes okay pictures; you won’t get snaps that are fit for your photo albums, but it’ll do in a pinch if you have no other camera available. It does sit in a strange place, however. Asus has stuck it right in the middle of the device, so you almost have to hold the tablet with one hand to take a picture.
The FonePad’s biggest selling point, of course, is its ability to take calls. There’s a speaker above the display and a microphone at the bottom of the device, so you can use it just like a giant smartphone if you choose to. I’d recommend getting a set of earphones, however, because you’ll look ridiculous at the bus stop with the FonePad up against your face.
The FonePad will launch next month in Europe, where it’ll be sold for £179/€219. It’s also coming to the U.S. priced at $249, but Asus hasn’t announced when it will be available.