Is this a phone or a tablet?

Last Updated: Sun, Jun 08, 2014 23:15 hrs

Asus' Fonepad 7 phablet is the third generation in the series. It adds a dual-SIM feature, principally targeting emerging markets such as India, and a faster processor. It has a seven-inch high-definition display, 3G calling and data, and is powered by an Intel Atom 1.2GHz dual-core processor.

The Fonepad 7 is heavy, thick and unwieldy. Making calls was a task with even two hands. With one hand, it's an exercise for the wrist. The plastic body, with a slightly curved back panel, though glossy, has a good grip. The Fonepad 7 has a 1,280x800-pixel IPS display and a rear camera that can shoot 100 frames in a go in the burst mode. The display, fenced by a thick ugly bezel, gives good viewing angles and sharp images. The charging port and 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top rim and the front camera above the display, while the Asus branding on the bottom edge.

The Fonepad 7, available for Rs 12,999, runs Android 4.2, with Asus' custom changes to the stock interface. The notification bar has a lot of added functionality, so you don't have to move away from the homescreen for small tasks. Three navigation keys for launching apps run on top of other apps and are hidden when not in use, to free up the screen.

On the top left are the slots for SIM and microSD cards, covered with a common plastic flap.

Though the tablet has a 1GB RAM, there was considerable lag in tasks. For instance, it would take annoyingly long to switch between the landscape and portrait modes. And, the review unit had just 8GB (only 5GB usable) of on-board storage, though it can be expanded up to 64GB with a microSD card; other models offer 16GB and 32GB.

Asus adds a bunch of its own apps such as Splendid, for controlling the display parameters; Power Saver, with features such as automatically switching off mobile data to preserve power; App Locker, for passwords to apps; and WebStorage, offering 16GB cloud storage space.

The rear camera is right in the top middle at the back above the Asus logo. The camera is average and clicked poor grainy images; in low light, it's even worse.

The power and volume keys are on the top left at the back, a bit difficult to use, especially with one hand. The battery lasts about half a day with internet use but drains quickly with video streaming and playing games and takes long to charge.

The speaker grill is on the back towards the bottom and the sound gets muffled when the tablet is kept on its back. The review unit didn't come with headphones.

The Asus Fonepad 7 competes with the similarly priced Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Neo, which has a TFT display and a 3,600 mAh battery that gives more juice.

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