If you’ve never heard of a phablet then meet the Asus Fonepad. Read our Asus Fonepad review to find out what the cheesy name is all about. See also Group test: what’s the best cheap tablet PC?
Do you desperately want to own a smartphone and a tablet but just don’t have the money to afford both? Well the Fonepad might just be the thing for you.
First off, do not confuse the Fonepad with the Asus Padfone. Asus’ Padfone was a smartphone that slotted into a tablet docking station; the Fonepad is a tablet with a SIM card slot and the ability to make phone calls. It wants to compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.
You’d be forgiven for mistaking the Fonepad for the Google Nexus 7 – they look extremely similar in appearance. Both are 7in tablets, using the same screen in the same shape. One subtle difference on the front is the ear-piece so you can hear the person on the other end of the phone.
Whether you feel comfortable holding a 7in device up to your face to make a phone call is the key question here. Many people laughed at us when we introduced our new phone to them. You can, of course, use speakerphone but this isn’t ideal for many situations. So Asus UK supplied our review unit with a Plantronics Voyager Legend UC Bluetooth earpiece, which says quite a lot about whether you’re really supposed to hold it like a regular phone.
The Fonepad is pretty thin and light at 10.9mm and 317g, making it easy to hold in one hand like the Nexus 7. It felt less unwieldy than the larger Galaxy Note 8.0. However, at 7in the Fonepad is a small tablet but a huge phone. It’s not really pocket-sized (only for men’s trousers and even then it’s very awkward) which means you’ll need to carry it around in bag. In turn, this makes it difficult to know when you’re being called or have received a text message or similar notification.
What it does do is solve the problem of having to spend much money to be able to own a smartphone and tablet. At £179 we can see this as a viable option for those wanting a value hybrid offering. The Galaxy Note 8.0 is likely to be a much more expensive option.
The backside of the Fonepad looks quite different to the dotted rubber of the Nexus 7 though. It has a metal rear cover which comes in two colours – Titanium Gray and Champagne Gold. The metal finish gives the device a more premium feel than the Nexus 7.
Build quality is good for the price despite a couple of minor downsides. The Fonepad is quite flexible and the metal rear cover doesn’t sit flush with the plastic edging all the way around.