I was hoping to give you a review of the new Padfone Infinity, but instead this weekend I got my hands on a 7″ phone. Or should I say tablet?..
Well it’s both – It’s the ASUS fonepad!
I’m not a big fan of unboxing videos or reviews. I simply can’t see the point of it. I tried it with the Padfone 2 and to be honest I hate myself for it. I won’t do it this time (or anytime in the future). There’s not much in the box anyway, and this is a good thing. Besides the padfone itself you get your USB cable, AC adapter and a manual. The concept is about getting a tablet out for the masses, just like the Nexus. So no need for fancy stuff in the box. It’s about giving you the best product possible for a low price without loosing to much quality. And it looks like the ASUS fonepad delivers just that.
It feels sturdy and well built. It’s small enough to put away in the pocket of your jacket and yet big enough to handle video, email writing and web browsing easy. It weighs in at 340 g with the dimensions 196.4 x 120.1 x 10.4 mm (LxWxH). According to ASUS it has a standby time of 751 hours(3G) and talk time 32.5 hours(3G). I haven’t tested this fully, but I’ll update this review as soon as I have.
Will it tablet?
At 7 inches, it’s definitely more tablet than it is a phone. It’s running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, has a 1,200×800-pixel display and a 1.2GHz single-core Intel Atom processor.
For a mid-range phone this would be enough – “but will it tablet?”
Well the 7″ LED Backlight WXGA (1280×800) Screen IPS Panel is “good enough” and as usual ASUS have their “Outdoor setting” and “powersave” mode to help you get the most out of the screen. Overall It’s a nice experience using the screen for browsing, e-mail and video. As in their other tablets using the IPS screen, the “outdoor” setting cranks it all up to “eleven” and testing it outside a sunny day was no challenge for the fonepad. The screen is however mediocre, but good enough to give you a nice experience. For this price it’s as good as you’re going to get.
1 x Micro USB
1 x 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone / Mic-in)
1 x Micro SD Card Reader (handles up to 32GB cards)
1 x 3.5mm headphone socket
1 x Micro SIM
As usual a device from ASUS comes with the ASUS software. ASUS is however one of the best out there when it comes to keeping android clean and as true as possible to the original code. You will however get Asus Launcher, MyLibrary, File Manager , Kindle ,Zinio , SuperNote Lite, App Backup, App Locker. I’ll be honest with you.
I remove most of these programs or turn them off under settings right away. I have no use for them (Sorry ASUS). It’s easy enough to do and for the most part the less “bloat” you have, the faster the experience.
Don’t expect to much from the camera. It’s a 1.2 MP Front Camera. It’s great for Skype video calls but not much more. Any smartphone will be better at any price. If you love to take photos and upload them to Instagram, the fonepad wont be enough (if you have any sense of quality). The fonepad is more of a “Jack-of-all-trades” Communication device and not a dedicated camera device – that’s intended.
Intel Atom and 1 GB RAM – Is it enough?
The Intel® Atom™ Z2420 1.2 GHz (single core) processor seems to be doing ok in most situations. It’s paired with 1GB of RAM and combined with the Z2420 processor, the device sometimes seems a bit “sluggish”, like with many applications running. If you compare it with the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip found inside the Nexus 7 you will feel a noticeable difference in performance and the price on the Nexus 7 is about the same as the ASUS fonepad – you do the math..
Not that the above bothers me to much (as a true ASUS fan boy), but being a high-end tablet user I can notice the difference and I feel I have to be honest about that.
Portable Media Player?
I like to watch movies and TV whenever I can. And as a father that means like when I’m in the bathroom – because that’s the only place I get left alone.. Netflix worked great. The streaming needed about 10 seconds to pick up quality, but when It did I had no problem at all.
Streaming from a LAN using BS player
Streaming from a server using BS Player however proved to be a challenge. As always I tried with a 1080p mp4 file. I know it’s overkill, but just for fun. It croaked, laggy, choppy and stuttering sound. I restarted the fonepad and tried again. No luck. Seems like streaming a 1080p mp4 file is to much. I decided to try with a smaller mp4 movie, but same there – laggy, choppy etc. Streaming with BS player is not something this device handles. It looks like it could be a decoding problem with BS player and the Z2420 1.2 GHz processor. If it’s a must using BS player – you have been warned.
Keep reading and se what happened when I transferred the same files over to the fonepad’s Micro SD card.
Loading movies onto the MIcro SD
But – when loading the same mp4 files directly on to the fonepad and the Micro SD card, it worked perfectly, when using the built in Android video player. (Still no luck using BS player however so theory above confirmed). I tried some high quality mp4 files and all of them worked perfectly. Connecting the fonepad to a Win 7 PC is easy, no extra software needed and the file transfer is fast.
So using the fonepad to watch TV and movies when away from home, on the train, for the kids in the car or those lonely nights at the hotel etc. It will work like a charm.
Where do the SIM card go?
When I first checked out the fonepad a couple of months ago at a fair I couldn’t figure out where the SIM card slot was.. I was to tiered to ask, but it stuck with me and I suspected it would have something to du with the top plastic cover. With a easy “two thumbs” grip you just slide the top of and there you find both the SIM slot and the SD card reader.
No rocket science and easy enough to do every day if you need to switch SD cards often for your movies.
Conclusion – the price is right
For the most part it works just like any phone but with a 7″ screen. It’s not the most high end tablet but it’s “good enough”. It feels fast enough when switching between open applications, browsing and listening to music. Just what you have come to expect of any mobile product these days. The price is totally right, it’s cheap enough to put in the hands of your kids or just having it lying around in the house for everyone to use. It’s so cheap you can buy two and have them for every family member to use at home. You can “free Internet” in your house with it and your kids will love you for it. 🙂
A “swiss army tablet”
There will however always be a more expensive product with better hardware out there. The fonepad is more like a “Jack of all trades” – It’s pretty good at most things but not a expert. It’s like the cheaper version of a swiss army knife. The fonepad will not replace your phone or your tablet. The 7″ format is great, but just don’t try to squeeze it into a pair of jeans. If you plan on using it like a phone use a Bluetooth headset or you will look like a fool, honestly..
Personally I like it a lot
I can find a void for it to fill as a family internet tool for everyone to use. Right now my kids have it in the living room playing games while watching TV and calling me on Skype (the multi tasking generation), and tomorrow it goes with us in the car with a SD card full of movies and as a GPS navigator.
The ASUS fonepad is like a C3PO for the whole family.
- Price is very affordable and gives great value
- Can be used as a phone if needed
- Battery life is great
- Can be used as a mediaplayer
- Build quality
- Only a front camera and a mediocre one
- Performance in certain situations
- Screen – good enough but nothing more