After having launched the Google Nexus 7 tablet in India, Asus has now announced its Fonepad. Not the PadFone, please be aware. This, the Fonepad, is essentially a tablet with calling capabilities. Will it give the Nexus 7 a run for its money? Sure, that’s possible, but more so, it’s Samsung who might have to watch out as there aren’t too many other companies vying for positions in the 7-inch phablet segment with calling capabilities. So here’s a quick round-up of the specifications and what they could mean for potential buyers. 

OS – Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Not that version 4.1 has any issues that one can complain about, but it would have been a better sell for Asus had it decided to ship the Fonepad with the latest edition of the OS, i.e. 4.2.2. Nevertheless, thanks to all the bug fixes and UI tweaks that Jelly Bean brings to the table, the Fonepad should be quite fluid in terms of overall functionality. Project Butter should very well ensure smooth usability and speedy processing. And hopefully, an update will make it out soon as well.  

Cellular network – Quad-band GSM and 3G support via Micro-SIM

The key factor that could make you choose the Fonepad over the Nexus 7 is the presence of a Micro-SIM slot. This will not just allow you to access data from anywhere via 3G (HSDPA up to 21Mbps), but unlike the Nexus 7, the Fonepad also allows for calling and texting via cellular networks, ensuring you’re always connected. This would give you the option of ditching your mobile handset for the Fonepad that allows you the ability for calls and messages via SMS or chat apps and a larger screen for browsing, accessing emails or viewing media. 

A little large but it gets the job done

A little large, but gets the job done

Display – 7-inch, 1280 x 800 pixels

The Fonepad features a 7.0-inch IPS LCD panel for a display that should make colours a little more vibrant compared to its Nexus counterpart. The resolution remains the same at 1280 x 800 pixels with a 216 ppi pixel density. Legibility in sunny conditions shouldn’t be a problem and viewing angles should also be better than most low-cost alternatives.

Wi-Fi – Dual-band, 802.11 a/b/g/n

The Asus Fonepad comes equipped to support 802.11 draft a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and features dual-band support. Coupled with this is Wi-Fi hotspot creation for sharing the connection with other devices. It might have been a little better if Wi-Fi Direct was also thrown in the mix. 

Running on Intel's new processor

Running on Intel's new processor

SoC– Intel Atom Z2420, 1.2GHz with hyper-threading and a Power SGX540 GPU

The Intel processor powering the Asus Fonepad, being of the 1.2GHz variety, should provide plenty of speed to get all things done quickly. There's even 1GB of RAM to help the performance. Watching HD videos or playing high-end games should also be a non-issue for this tablet. Although it’s a single-core processor, that shouldn’t deter it from getting the job done swiftly.

Storage – 8GB with room for expansion up to 32GB

With just 8GB of on-board storage, it might seem like a rather hefty price tag. However, with Rs 650 or so, you could very easily get yourself a 16GB microSD card to significantly boost storage space to 32GB. There's also 5GB of online Webstorage Space that could also be available for Indian users. 

NFC – No

It’s not that this medium is seeing high usage statistics right now, especially in India, however, it might have been a bonus should Asus have included it. Or perhaps a further reduction in price – due to non-availability of this feature – might have been better. 

Primary Camera – 3.15MP

It's always better to have a rear-facing camera on a tablet and in this case, a 3MP camera is just about right. Features have not been disclosed, but it will have to compete with the likes of the Galaxy Tab2 7.0’s, which comes with Smile Detection and more. Having 720p HD video recording also comes in handy. 

To be available in Titanium Gray and Champagne Gold

To be available in Titanium Grey and Champagne Gold

Front camera – 1.2MP

The front facing camera will be very handy for video calls over cellular or VOiP. With 3G connectivity, this should be a cinch anywhere you are.

Sensors – Accelerometer, Proximity, Compass

The sensors will come in handy for a variety of purposes including gaming, GPS usage and using a variety of other handy apps. 

GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS Support

There’s no dedicated GPS application other than Google Maps and navigation, but that’s more than you’ll need as long as you have an Internet connection available. In lieu of that, you can also download paid apps from the Play Store. 

Battery – Li-ion 4270 mAh

Here’s where the Asus Fonepad could have an issue. Intel’s processors, as we’ve seen in devices like the XOLO X900 and X1000 smartphones, do not help too much with battery life. In fact, the devices with Atom processors have so far proven to be wrought with poor battery performance. However, Asus claims that the device should be able to provide users with up to 9 hours of usage and 32.5 hours of talk time on 3G.

No need for a smartphone as well

No need for a smartphone

The Bottom Line

With a price tag of Rs 15,990 for an 8GB edition of the Fonepad, and being the only other device with a big enough brand name to dish out a calling-capable tablet in this price bracket could just give it that little extra edge. The Nexus 7, while it features Google’s latest OS, a better processor and comes at a better price, does not have a rear camera or calling capability. 

Stay tuned for the detailed review of the Asus Fonepad.

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