In May, ASUS has made the Fonepad 7 (FE170CG) available in Malaysia and as its name suggests, is a hybrid of a phone and tablet. Although it seems to be quite late to discuss about this device, it is not actually so because of the recent huge price drop, which we will talk about it later. This suggests that now will be the correct time to have a reevaluation and review on this device.
This Fonepad is loaned to us by ASUS Malaysia and we would like to thank them for believing a young technology blog like us. It is our honor to be trusted by them.
What’s in the Box?
The box has a clean and nice look which rendered image of the Fonepad 7, the device name and the ASUS branding on top. The left hand side sports the Intel Inside logo as the device is powered by the Intel Atom processor. The right hand side shows the color options and the unit we have received is the black colored model.
Flipping up the lid of the box will reveal the device itself, which is nicely wrapped with protective plastic. As we remove the Fonepad, we can see that the 1.35A charger, warranty document and basic user manual are neatly packed underneath. Below the paperwork which you probably will not read lies the USB cable. No headphones are provided here. This is quite normal for tablets but I thought that it will come in the box as the Fonepad 7 has telephony capability. I guess this is fine as cost saving needs to be done to keep the price attractive.
The Fonepad 7
Look & Feel
Coming back to the main character itself, the plastic is quickly removed so that I can have a better look on the device. The first thing I noticed is that the screen is very, very glossy. It is so reflective and could almost work as a piece of mirror so I hope that this would not be affecting the display too much. (Teaser: Not too much!) The front of the device is quite clean and simple, which is always a good thing. From top to bottom there’s the front firing speaker, the 0.3MP front camera that is slightly to the right, the 7″ display and a silver ASUS logo at the bottom. There are no capacitive or physical buttons on the front.
Much to my surprise, the Fonepad 7 feels good in hand. I never expected it to have such a good feel in hand. Given that the tablet is so aggressively priced, I actually expected the opposite. In my opinion this is contributed by the right weight, the shape and the back. The device weighs 290g. It is by no means super light but I feel the weight gives a substantial feeling without straining my hand after holding it for longer period. The device has dimensions of 192 x 110 x 10.7mm. ASUS has trimmed down the bezel to make the Fonepad narrower which helps us to grab the device easily. Although using and holding with the same hand is totally out of the question, holding it with one hand will surely pose no problems to anyone, even ladies with smaller hands.
So what’s so great about the back? The back of the phone is made of plastic but it is neither glossy nor matte. The back has a rough texture which has a nice touch while keeping fingerprints off. The sides are gently curved while the back has the same clean look as well. The back of the Fonepad 7 features the 2MP camera as well as the ASUS logo at the top and the branding and labels at the bottom. The USB port for charging and data syncing is also placed on the top, along with the 3.5 mm headphone jack. On the other hand. the bottom is clean and free from any jacks or buttons.
The volume rocker and the power button is placed on the right hand side and they actually facing slightly backwards instead of typically facing to the side. For now I did not feel much difference in the design of the button but time might tell if there is any. I can only tell more in the full review.
On the left hand side there is a flap and opening it up will show 3 slots. Two of them are actually for the micro-sim as the Fonepad 7 is a dual sim device. It can support up to 3G HSPA+ network. The last slot is for the micro SD expansion up to 64GB. Although it seems like a no-brainer, please look for the icons properly as it indicates how you insert the sim and the micro SD card. The orientation matters and you definitely do not want it to get stuck.
Overall, the look of the device is not bad and its simple design is really my cup of tea. In my opinion, the black unit we received looks great while somehow managing to stay low-profile. The build quality is reassuring and it feels really awesome in hand. Of course it cannot match the premium tablets such as iPads, but it does stand out in its own pack.
ASUS Fonepad 7 is not a spec monster and no one would expect it to be one. However, this does not mean that it is badly equipped. The Fonepad is powered by an Intel Atom Z2520 1.2 GHz dual core processor with hyper-threading technology. Although the dual core 1.2 GHz processor seems to be mediocre for ARM processors, we will need some time to see how would the Intel architecture processor with same clock speed and core number performs.
It also comes with 1GB of RAM and a non-removable 3950mAh battery. The unit we received has 4GB of internal storage but there is another 8GB variant too. The 7″ screen has a resolution of 1024×600 WSVGA LED display, which is not impressive to be honest. The 170 ppi screen is one of the lowest resolution screen I have used for some time. Luckily the colors are quite vibrant for me.
It had a launching price of RM499 (USD 160) for the 4GB model and RM599 (USD190) for the 8GB model but ASUS has slashed the price recently. The 8GB model will now cost you only RM429 (USD140) while the 4GB model will be discontinued slowly. The asking price is not high to be honest but we will see if it can justify the price tag in the full review soon.
Stay tuned for the full review which will be coming very, very soon! We will cover our full experience including the hardware and software in the full review.
[Update] Full Review is available now!