The little Fonepad that could

So I got myself a new phone. Meet the ASUS Fonepad, everybody. A 7-inch tablet that runs Android Jellybean, lets me make calls and costs less than RM900.

I won’t lie: the main reason I got it was because it is comparatively cheap for a smartphone. And there are many things I could live without but a phone that isn’t a smartphone? Heck, no.

Let me explain. I used to be a tech journo and reviewing shiny, expensive things was what I did for a living. Now I may not specialise in tech anymore but I still rely very much on the Internet and various gadgetry to get my work done.

For the full spec list, check out the official Asus webpage:

The good stuff

Did I already mention it’s cheap? If you buy it from this little shop called Directd, you can get it for RM699. The official retail price is RM850 – not at all a bad price, either.

It’s pretty light and has a purty IPS screen. Not gorilla glass unfortunately so it WILL scratch if you’re not careful.

The battery life is pretty good on this thing. If you only do light surfing, Whatsapping and texts, the phone can last a whole day. Otherwise, video, games, reading will still wear it out only after 5-6 hours. If you use the ultra-saving power mode, you could probably stretch it to 7 hours. Not bad, OK?

It comes with some Asus software preinstalled to manage files, backup apps and 5GB of cloud storage. My favourite bit is that it comes with the Kindle and Zinio apps preinstalled though I  found the former to be a bit sluggish compared to its iOS equivalent.

As I like to read in bed before I sleep, I find the screen brightness and clarity of the text of my ebooks to be pretty good. The lightness of the device makes it comfortable to hold and at 340g, not much heavier than a thick paperback novel.

The not-so-good stuff

Asus won’t let you register its warranty online unlike most of its other stuff. Which is a damn shame.

Also, if you get a faulty unit, you have to request a one-to-one replacement from where you got it. If they refuse, you have to march to the nearest Asus service centre, get a letter from them and then make the retailer give you a new unit.

Not that Asus service is bad at all – when my laptop had power issues within its first year of warranty, I got handed a new laptop charger and battery, no questions asked.

It also uses a single-core Intel Atom processor so it won’t handle graphics-intensive games like Galaxy on Fire. Certain apps will lag a little and the 8GB internal space feels rather restrictive, even with the microSD expansion card as you can’t move apps on the SD card as yet.

Also for the Android tinkerers – there aren’t any good ROMs for it yet and it does not support OTG. It is also not running the latest version of Android though it is on Jellybean.

Android apps are still rather mediocre compared to the selection in Apple’s app store but if your needs are simple, then you’ll be happy enough.

There aren’t a lot of cases or screen protectors for the device as yet and the official Asus Versa Sleeve for it is sold separately and NOT cheap at RM129.

So should you buy it?

If you’re the type who would use a tablet more than you would make calls, I’d say go for it. It’s one less thing to carry around and you won’t need to have two separate data plans for your tablet and phone.

Since I’m living in a country where being mugged is a very real fear, at least I have the comfort of knowing that if someone steals this it won’t burn a hole in my wallet to replace it.

The Samsung Tab 8.0 is another phablet to consider but at nearly RM1.7k, it costs double what I paid for the Fonepad. Ditto the Galaxy Note II.

If you just want a tablet, I tell people to get an iPad for the better app choice/variety. But as far as phablets/phone hybrids go, Android still wins where price is the most important concern.

Where I got it:

Directd (Look for a bigass Samsung signboard)

No 64, Jalan SS15/4B Subang Jaya,Selangor 47500.

Shop Location GPS Coordinates :N 03 04.582′ E 101 35.316′

Call 0356211355 or text 0196910000

open daily 10.30 am to 11.30 pm

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