In the past two years, Asus has released at least four different versions of the Fonepad 7. We saw a Fonepad 7 (3G) release last year, followed by the Fonepad 7 Dual SIM and the Fonepad 7 (FE375CG) in the first quarter of this year. On top of that, the Fonepad 7 (FE170CG) launched just recently, and we have it with us for review.This Fonepad 7 is Asus's attempt at creating a low-cost tablet for the masses. While the spec sheet may not be impressive, Asus's intended target audience might approve of the Dual-SIM functionality and voice calling features.
Look and feel
The refreshed Fonepad 7 doesn't look too different from the Fonepad 7 we reviewed last year but it looks like Asus has tweaked the design slightly to make it better. Gone is the plain slippery back, which is now replaced by a nice textured finish. This aids in gripping the device. The entire body is made of good quality plastic and feels sturdy ineveryday use. Moreover, Asus has shaved 28g from the previous iteration and the weight of the new Fonepad 7 is 290g. This reduction is immediately noticeable since the device is easier to use with one hand. We received the black version for review but the tablet is also available in red, blue and white.
Asus has decided to replace the dual front-firing speakers with a single one on top of the screen. Below the speaker is a front-facing camera. The 7-inch screen is surrounded on all sides by fairly wide bezels. The edges curve inwards and on the right are the volume rocker and power button. The left edge has a flap that houses two slots for Micro-SIM cards and a slot for a microSD card. A 3.5mm jack and a Micro-USB port are on the top of the Asus Fonepad 7. The primary camera is on the rear along with a metallic Asus logo.Specifications, software and camera
The 7-inch screen has a resolution of 1024x600. Asus' specification sheet states that the screen has an anti-fingerprint coating. We think this is a cruel joke since the screen attracts fingerprints like Ryan Gosling attracts women. Also if you ever need to set your hair, the screen can work as a mirror. Under sunlight, even the slightest tilt makes the screen not viewable. Now we know where Asus cut corners to keep the cost of the tablet down.The tablet runs Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) with no word on an update yet. The moment we fired it up and connected it to the Internet, it started downloading a number of updates including the Google Services Framework. Post this, things started getting weird. The launcher would not work properly and every time we restarted the tablet, it tried to install more updates and crashed. We think this has something to do with ZenUI and the new updates not talking to each other properly. We continued without updating the framework and everything worked fine.
For first-time users, ZenUI takes a little getting used to. The lockscreen has direct-access icons for the Camera, Phone and Messaging apps. Asus has something called What's Next which lines up nicely beside these icons on the lockscreen and is a unique take on literally displaying what's next on the user's schedule.
(Click to see full size)
The 2-megapixel primary camera and 0.3-megapixel front-camera tried really heard to take good pictures but failed. In all testing conditions, we found that the rear camera is mostly pointless. We think Asus could have skipped the cameras on this Fonepad 7 and spent a little more on a better quality screen. In any case, it is not a patch on the 5-megapixel camera we used on the Asus Fonepad 7 Dual-SIM.Performance
In the AnTuTu and Quadrant benchmark tests, this tablet scored 18,029 and 6,800, respectively. We also ran our graphics benchmarks and the Asus Fonepad 7 scored 13.1fps in the GFXbench test and 5,148 in the more intensive 3DMark Ice Storm sequence. The tablet also played all our test videos. Our heavily encoded 40mbps 1080p video file also didn't trouble it too much. The decision to move to a single speaker on this year's Fonepad 7 does not affect sound quality - sound is adequately loud and clear as well.Asus' claim about battery performance seems to be true since in our test it lasted us around 10 hours, 22 minutes, which is actually on the high side. There is a fairly powerful Power Saver function that works really well too.
The Asus Fonepad 7 is available for as little as Rs. 7,299 on e-commerce platforms, which is a really good price for a tablet that performs so well. Yes, the software was slightly iffy in the beginning, but that could have been a problem with our review unit. The screen is not too great and the camera is a joke, but the cost had to be managed somehow.
There are other options in the form of Flipkart's own Digiflip Pro ET701, which has a similar set of specs and is priced much lower than the Fonepad 7. It is missing the voice-calling capability though. The Digiflip Pro XT801 on the other hand has much better specifications but once again doesn't have voice calling features. At this price, the Fonepad 7 hits the sweet spot by offeringvoice-calling. Just make sure you always carry a cloth to wipe fingerprints with.