We’ve been seeing phones inch closer and closer into tablet territory in the past few years, but the 2013 Mobile World Congress has seen these lines converge completely. First it was the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, an 8-inch tablet with phone capabilities, and now ASUS has unveiled the Fonepad, a 7-inch phone-tablet hybrid. And ASUS isn’t shy about encouraging users to hold the phablet up to their head, like a smaller-sized smartphone, to make a call.
The tablet feels a lot like other tablets in the size-range, such as the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus 7. It’s also highly responsive; we were able to zip through different Android homescreens and browse a wide selection of installed applications at high speeds. This performance is thanks to the 1.2 GHz Intel Atom Z2420 processor, helping this phablet hum along smoothly.
We felt a little ridiculous holding the device to our head, however, while we mimicked making and receiving a phone call. There is, of course, Bluetooth 3.0 built-in to the Fonepad, so syncing and using a wireless headset is a completely valid option for calls. ASUS, however, does not shy away from promoting the use of the Fonepad like any other smartphone, showing pictures and videos of happy users making calls during the press announcement. As a tablet, however, the ASUS Fonepad impressed.
The ASUS Fonepad is competitively priced at $249, although there’s no word about availability in the United States. It’ll hit shelves in the United Kingdom and Asia sometime between April and June.