Feeds
Asus FonePad

Asus FonePad: You may feel a bit of a spanner

The smartphone that thinks it’s a tablet - and a bloody good job too

Boost IT visibility and business value

Review Do you really need a smartphone and a tablet? One overly expensive device with a screen and a battery that are both just a bit too small for comfort in this day and age to use for voice calls and cellular data, and a larger, Wi-Fi-connected gadget with a 7- or 8-inch screen for browsing the web, reading ebooks and watching movies?

Asus clearly thinks the answer to that question may be in the negative because its new FonePad is being pitched as an affordable replacement for a smartphone. The device is not, the company insists, just another 3G fondleslab.

Asus FonePad

Yes, the Asus FonePad is a bit of a handful...

Affordable? What else would you call £180 unlocked? That’s £60 less than the LG-made Nexus 4 and £70 less than a PAYG Sony Xperia SP which are my top choices for a good smartphone that won’t break the bank. An unlocked 3G Nexus 7 will set you back £240, but out of the box it has no support for voice calling and there’s no ear speaker.

Before we get into the benefits and drawbacks of living with a 7-inch tablet as a smartphone let’s take a quick shufty at what sort of hardware your hundred and eighty notes will get you.

The Gorilla Glass screen is a 1280 x 800 IPS LCD affair with a 216dpi pixel density. That’s the same density as the Nexus 7 and a darned sight higher than the iPad Mini. It can’t match the absolute clarity of similar resolution panels measuring 4.6 or 5 inches between the corners, let alone the latest 1920 x 1080 mobile displays, but I reckon it’s more than adequate for most users and uses.

Asus FonePad

...but it’s certainly not an enemy of pockets

It’s a good quality screen, too: bright and colourful - it has the usual Asus Outdoor super-bright mode and a comprehensive colour balance app called, ahem, Splendid - with robust viewing angles and good levels of contrast. It’s actually rather better than the Nexus 7’s screen, which is no mongrel.

Inside you’ll find a new single-core and hyper-threading Intel Atom Z2420 chip [PDF] clocked at 1.2GHz, a rather old PowerVR SGX540 GPU, 1GB of RAM and a 4270mAh battery. With 16GB of storage, USB On-The-Go and a Micro SD slot, finding room for files isn’t a problem.

The FonePad only supports 3G but data speeds of 21Mbps down and 5.76Mbps up are catered for, which should be sufficient for most folk. Beyond that you get single-band (2.4GHz) 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 but no NFC.

Running the show is a lightly skinned version of Android 4.1.2, but Asus has confirmed to me verbally that a 4.2 update will be rolled out at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Asus FonePad

You may feel a bit of a spanner using it as a phone, though

The Atom CPU in the FonePad is less powerful than the one used in the Motorola Razr i - the only other big-brand Intel-powered smartphone currently on the market and a device I use every day - and frankly it doesn’t make much of a case for itself in benchmark tests. The AnTuTu score of just over 9000 is well shy of what the Nexus 7 can manage, while the SunSpider browser score of 1800ms in Chrome is no excuse to ring up the grandkids, either.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech
Sadly Navdy kit doesn't include Sidewinder missile to blast traffic
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids
Mile-High 'Denver' Tegra K1 successor said to rival PC performance
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.