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Asus Fonepad review

Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Asus Fonepad


Our Score


User Score


  • Fab value
  • Flexible, with 3G and memory expansion
  • Highly portable


  • Sluggish GPU
  • So-so screen
  • Performance just OK

Review Price £179.99

Key Features: 7-inch 1,280 x 800 pixel IPS screen; 16GB internal memory; Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS; microSD slot; 3G, phone calling

Manufacturer: Asus

What is the Asus Fonepad?

Can a name alone trip up a gadget? The Asus Fonepad sounds silly. Who wants a 7-inch phone, right? The truth is quite different. The Asus Fonepad is roughly based on the Google Nexus 7 tablet, but tweaks the winning formula by adding a memory card slot and including 3G as standard. What’s not to like? Very little apart from the unremarkable screen. And that is largely excused by the attractive £180 price.

Asus Fonepad – Design and Specs

The Asus Fonepad is a 7-inch screen tablet running the Android OS. Its dimensions and weight are similar to those of the Google Nexus 7, one of our favourite Android tablets of last year.

The similarity is no surprise because Asus produced the Nexus 7 tablet for Google. The Fonepad is its own stab at the design, and despite adding 3G connectivity as standard, it costs £10 less than best price for the 32GB Nexus 7, at £179.99.

At 340g and 10.4mm thick, the Asus Fonepad isn’t desperately slim or light for its size, and the generous screen bezel has a whiff of 'last-gen tablet' about it. However, a solid bezel gives your thumb a place to rest without touching the capacitive touchscreen, it's light enough to hold one-handed and aluminium rear gives the phone a cool, hard feel that plastic can’t provide. Asus Fonepad 3

There’s just one bit of the Fonepad’s rear that isn’t covered in aluminium. Up at the top sits a strip of darker plastic. It is removable, and hides the 3G SIM card slot and the microSD memory card slot. It’s the memory card slot that means we’re not too bothered that the Fonepad has only 16GB of storage where the Nexus 7 offers either 16GB or 32GB.

So far we’ve covered three things you don’t get with the similarly-priced version of the Google Nexus 7 – 3G, expandable memory and a metal (rather than plastic) rear.

Other than these extras, the two tablets have similar connections. The main one is a microUSB port on the bottom edge, sitting next to the headphone jack. You get Android staples GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, but there’s no NFC and no dedicated video output.

Asus Fonepad 13

Asus Fonepad – Screen

A lack of NFC may be seen as a bit behind-the-times, as it’s continually being incorporated into more and more super-portable devices. The Asus Fonepad’s screen is also not quite cutting edge.

Its display is near-identical to that of the Nexus 7 – it may even use exactly the same core panel. It is seven inches across and has a resolution of 1,280 x 800. Asus Fonepad 25

Viewing angles are good thanks to the IPS tech used in the screen – the same screen technology used in iPhone and iPads – but otherwise this is a distinctly low-mid level display. Colour reproduction and contrast are fine but well below what you’ll find in a pricier tablet and the screen surface is highly reflective.

That the display layer is recessed a little behind the top-most screen layer also reduces the immediacy of the Fonepad’s display. It lacks the pop of the iPad mini screen, although it is slightly sharper than Apple’s small tablet with 215 pixels per inch against the iPad’s 162.Asus Fonepad 20

Low-cost tablets released later this year are likely to provide higher resolutions and superior image ‘pop’. However, you can tweak this with the Asus Splendid app, which lets you alter colour saturation and tone.

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Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


February 25, 2013, 6:09 pm

Well a tablet user with a smart watch may well use it to phone but just keep it in their backpack or briefcase. Heres the thing. The first brand to make a smartphone / tablet bundle could make a fortune if marketed well. Please dont let it be Apple.

Kasem Asawaprecha

February 28, 2013, 3:46 am

This will play havoc with phablet pricing. Generally, the five-inch phones can fetch higher prices than the four-inchers. So, how can this seven-inch tablet be cheaper than the four-inchers and still have greater battery life? I want one!


February 28, 2013, 12:27 pm

Asus is Taiwanese not South Korean?


February 28, 2013, 5:56 pm

More space for components, less expensive to design and build. I imagine too that the yields on 7 inch screens are a lot higher than on 5 inch. Lower resolution improves yield, and frankly most people won't notice after the first day of use.

Katarzyna Stryjakiewicz

June 9, 2013, 9:50 pm

Hang on... It doesn't have a rear camera? How do I take photos with it? Using the front 1.2 Cam? That's not good enough...


August 25, 2013, 9:38 am

Mine has rear camera. It appears only those sold in Britain don't have the camera. For another ten pounds you can get one with a camera from an Italian source.

Ziggi Bearwolfe

October 20, 2013, 2:15 am

I just bought the ASUS Fonetab after having warranty problems with an Sony Xperia Arc seller :*( I'm loving the Fonetab & think I'll keep the Arc for a back up, if it's ever repaired. It's heaps better for me in my 50's than trying to use a 4.2" screen. The 7" screen makes the Fonetab much easier to type & edit documents for work. Mine has a rear 3MP camera which I also use a lot for work. I use it for basic photo editing & the resolution's fine for this. My only con I wish the rear camera was an 8MP. Battery life is excellent. I would've loved the new 6" ASUS Fonetab Note that's about to be released, as I think that's a better size. However, I couldn't be without a phone for work whilst waiting, so all round very happy with this one.


November 13, 2013, 2:30 am

... and it wasn't Apple. It was Samsung's new Note. My personal observation is that it is a good integration, just as you imagined. But it's tied to the Note which is a very expensive device to begin with. More should be coming.

I have the Fonepad, first generation, and I bought it with intent to last at least a year, hopefully two, and maybe three. By the time I go back into the market I hope the fonepad will have shrunk down to the new Nexis 7's smaller foot print and much, much higher resolution, and have a watch peripheral device to boot that works something like the current Note Smart watch combo. At that point, I would imagine I'm just about done, perhaps maybe opting for Google Glasses at that point as well. I know there were be new and better things on the horizon, but at this point I can't imagine any.

comfort amoah

January 8, 2014, 5:00 pm

I have asus phonepad and i really like it alot, but i had low battery and i didn't charge, the next morning i tried to charge and i saw this ? mark red colour inside where you can the the level of the battery, but its not able to charge and the phonepad is still working, i m using it now is not off, please any help?
If i turn it on they says connect your charger but if i plug its doesn't show any sign that its charging only the res questing mark inside the box. Please i don't want to loose it any help?


February 2, 2014, 11:13 am

I don't have the rear camera,and I bought it in finland... It might be that it's just a newer version of the fonepad that has the rear camera?

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