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Asus Fonepad - Android, Apps and Video

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Asus Fonepad

Summary

Our Score:

8

Asus Fonepad – Software and Performance

The software at the heart of the Asus Fonepad is a little more up-to-date than its screen. The tablet runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, just one release behind the current 4.2 version.

You don’t miss out on anything too drastic, the most eye-catching addition being the 360- degree photo panorama app Photosphere, which wouldn’t be of much use on a tablet without a rear camera.

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Asus has made only minor changes to vanilla Android in the Fonepad. The virtual soft key panel – needed as there are no hardware nav buttons - uses Asus’s own icons and there’s a bunch of pre-installed Asus apps. But just about everything else is stock Android.

The Asus Fonepad uses a fairly uncommon Intel processor, the single-core 1.2GHz Intel Z2420. Although its one cores sounds meagre, the performance of this cores is good.

It whips the Google Nexus 7 in some benchmarks, scoring 1266ms in the Javascript Sunspider bench against the Nexus 7’s 1700-odd. And, yes, the lower the score the better for this one.

The AnTuTu benchmark is quite the opposite, though. The Fonepad comes out with a far worse score than the Nexus 7, scoring between 5500-6500 points where the Nexus manages around 12,000.

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Its CPU may be powerful, but this benchmark disparity highlights the difficulty of using a processor with such a different architecture. Some apps and games will not be all that well optimised for the Intel chipset.

This becomes pretty clear when running the snazzy racer Real Racing 3. Its frame rate is perfectly playable, with just occasional dips, but the PowerVR SGX540 GPU doesn’t provide as impressive visual effects or textures as you’d get with – for example – a Tegra 3 tablet.

To put the Fonepad’s GPU into chronological context, it’s the same GPU used in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which was released in 2011. Ouch. All of our standard 3D test games ran though – you’ll just have to made do with slightly less flashy visuals than the top tablets in some games.

Day-to-day performance is good, although there is some minor lag and slightly longer pauses in loading apps than you might see in a top tier tablet. Given these tablets cost twice the price, it’s a minor grumble.

Asus Fonepad – Apps, Music and Video

Asus has pre-installed a bunch of additional apps on the Fonepad, but they’re largely inoffensive passive extras rather than the sort of bloatware that tries to sculpt how you use the tablet day-to-day.

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There’s an ebook reader, a note-taking app, a to-do list, an app that connects to Asus’s cloud storage service, a dictionary, chat app, file browser and backup tool. These are all base line utilities that you could easily replace after a quick trip to the Google Play app store. However, you can’t simply delete them, which is an annoyance.

There are two other apps with greater aspirations. Asus Story and Asus Studio are image-led apps that let you edit photos and weave them together into a visual narrative. Photographers may like them, but as there’s no decent camera built into the tablet, they seem on the verge of becoming entirely redundant for most people.

However, these apps are all part of the standard Asus roster. They’re part of the deal.

We could happily live without any of these extra apps, most of which are apps menu litter. However, there is one additional app that is quite excellent – Asus Splendid.

This lets you control the colour temperature, saturation and hue of the screen – letting you make the display a little more colourful if that’s your bag.

What the Fonepad lacks is a particularly good video player app. There’s an additional Asus-made one, but it doesn’t seem to offer extra video codec support. It tripped over almost all of our video files, refusing to play them outright or giving up half-way through.

Using popular third-party app MxPlayer, all types played but a 1080p MKV test continued to stutter along at less than full speed. This is likely down to limited optimisation for the Intel processor used - as we saw when playing games.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

TheHulksMothersCousin

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!

Indigo

February 28, 2013, 12:27 pm

Asus is Taiwanese not South Korean?

kupfernigk

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...

Bubbles

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.

Bubbles

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?

S.A.

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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