IMG_4089Tablets are the trend of the era and the market is on the rise for “affordable” tablets. While “China tablets” were swarming the market, major manufacturers like Amazon, HP and ASUS are beginning to penetrate the competition. And we, the consumers are to reap the rewards! Not long ago, ASUS announced their cheapest, most affordable tablet to compete in the league. This time, they have announced the first Intel powered Android tablet, the Fonepad (ME371MG). Well, yeah, maybe they ran out of ideas in naming the Fonepad, but don’t get confused with their Padfone2! So what does this 7-incher carry under its hood? I decide to take it on a plunge against the Nexus 7.

IMG_4091The hardware is very similar to that of the Nexus 7! On the front panel, the only significant difference is the earpiece speaker, the positioning of the front-facing camera, and the ASUS logo at the bottom. Oh, and the silver lining on the sides of the Nexus 7 (which are reported as the first thing that gets scratched) is replaced with a black one on the Fonepad. The rear gets a metallic finish compared to the Nexus 7’s potted grip. A 3-MPx camera separates the body and the top removable cover that houses the SIM and SD card slots. Personally, the Nexus 7 feels better in palms compared to the Fonepad. The grip really helps and the silver lining gives it an elegant look – until you scratch it of course.

But lets dig deeper. The main highlight here is the Intel processor. Its the Intel Atom Z2420 processor which carries a single core but dual threads clocked at 1.2GHz with 512KB cache. You can’t put this next to Nexus 7’s Tegra 3 Quad-cores at 1.2GHz of course, but this little beast does deliver what it promises! Coupled with 1GB RAM, the Fonepad is an excellent piece of gadget for playing pretty much any games on the Google Play! While the overall benchmark scores were not up to par against Nexus 7, it did perform well in several areas. Here are the results of the benchmark test:

ASUS Fonepad Nexus 7
Total 8330 12855
RAM 2607 1836
CPU Integer 1662 3524
CPU Float 356 2627
2D Graphics 617 1054
3D Graphics 2492 2946
Database IO 265 550
SD card write 138 128
SD card read 193 190

Out of the box, the Fonepad comes with Android 4.1.2 and there were minor bugs here and there that I discovered which should be fixed in the OTA updates of course. An amusing one was that when a “private number” calls, his icon is presented with a birthday icon. Now how did it guess that? LOL.

IMG_4096Now, lets move to the display. The Fonepad houses an IPS LCD (typical ASUS gadget) with a resolution of 1200 x 800. It performs well under the sunlight too. But comparing it with the Nexus 7, the Nexus 7 has richer colors and the difference is significant. I tried taking pictures using my DSLR to compare the screen colors, but I’m no professional photographer, so I couldn’t get the right pictures. The clear difference happens around the dark shades. On the Fonepad, the grey color has a “greenish” blend compared to the nexus 7. Its not a downer, but worth mentioning against the Nexus 7.

IMG_4094Of course, the 3MPx camera. Honestly, I don’t really see a need of a camera on tablets, but once in a while it comes handy when you want to show the scenery around you while having a video conversation. And for that purpose, the Fonepad’s camera does the job pretty well. I wasn’t expecting much from the 3MPx really, but the device did deliver beyond my expectations. The video was fairly good too – you didn’t expect 1080p HD, did you? Here is a picture of my Padfone2 taken with the Fonepad (it takes me 2 seconds to make sure I’m naming the right gadget).



One more feature worth noting here is the phone counterpart of the Fonepad. I won’t really use the Fonepad for making calls unless I get into some desperate condition perhaps, but finally I can start texting and send Whatsapp on the tablet! Something I really wished the Nexus 7 (even Nexus 7C) had. Basically, you have a phone package in the size of a tablet in case you lose your mobile phone.


As usual, my reviews are more consumer-centric and I try to keep things not too technical. I’m sure there will be plenty of blogs that will have a lot more to talk about the device. If you are looking for a budget tablet and you have about RM1000 to spend, the Fonepad is definitely a keeper. With Intel joining the army, the competition is about to get even more exciting. The SD card and phone feature is definitely an upper hand for the Fonepad too. But again, nothing is perfect. The Fonepad can house a better shell really. Its only going to be a matter of time before the metallic case gets its first scratch. If you look at the camera picture above, you would already see some bronze coloring on the device’s edge – for a device that’s only a week old. Other than that, I wouldn’t complain much for a device this affordable. The price? It will be cheaper than the Nexus 7 – that’s all I can say for now ;)