back to article Asus FonePad: You may feel a bit of a spanner

Do you really need a smartphone and a tablet? One overly expensive device with a screen and a battery that are both just a bit too small for comfort in this day and age to use for voice calls and cellular data, and a larger, Wi-Fi-connected gadget with a 7- or 8-inch screen for browsing the web, reading ebooks and watching …


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  1. Whitter
    Thumb Up

    Gold Star

    "As for looking a berk when using it in public, well, as a matter of principle I try not to use my phone when other people are nearby because I prefer not to inflict my conversations on complete strangers so it really wasn’t an issue."

    You sir are a Gentleman!

    1. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      @Whitter Re:"You sir are a Gentleman!"

      Indeed he is, clearly one of the old school. My observation of the kind of behaviour that he shuns is that where certain brain dead planks types engage in it it is usually the size of the mouth rather than the phone that is the issue!

    2. exanime

      Re: Gold Star

      Yes, I also like to keep my calls between me, whomever I'm calling and the NSA spooks

    3. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: Gold Star

      Ah yes! When forced to call while in a crowded space, the agony of getting the right volume so they can hear you at the other end of the call versus not annoying everyone around you with your personal business. Some of us do still care about those around us, even if those around us don't care about us.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Only the most

      Only the most confident of people could carry off using this phone, but I think being seen in public using the phone and being called a spanner are the least of your worries.

      You might get beaten up but at least they'll only steal you wallet, not your phone.

  2. Thomas 4

    Sounds promising

    As for the issue of looking like a berk when making a phone call, a bluetooth headset fixes that problem quite nicely.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Sounds promising

      Why yes, it almost guarantees it will be so.

    2. NogginTheNog

      Re: Sounds promising

      Although with modern miniscule BT headsets you then have the problem of people looking at you strangely, or trying to reply to your random utterances, as they think you're talking to yourself!

    3. Marvin the Martian
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Sounds promising

      bad idea. How can I watch a vid while on the phone with my boss, if it's one device?

      Or choose which of the two to run down if no charger at hand?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds promising

      'As for the issue of looking like a berk when making a phone call, a bluetooth headset fixes that problem quite nicely.'

      True you won't look a 'berk' instead you'll just look like a knob.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking at the size

    It reminds me of Dom Jolly, "I'm on the train !"

    1. Andy Roid McUser

      Re: Dom Joly - prophet.

      How we laughed at Dom Joly's Trigger Happy TV, whilst he walked around shouting into a three foot Nokia. We were all blissfully mistaking a comedy show for what was in fact a peek into the future from our modern day Nostradamus.

      Dom Joly is not who we think he is.....

      1. AMB-York Silver badge

        Re: Dom Joly - prophet.

        Giant rabbits in shop windows. It's not safe to go out at night.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Looking at the size

      Baker Street station features a Dom Jolly advert within about two metres of a phone pad advert!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's pretty obvious that if you make a humongous phone that even an Intel Atom will have good battery life.

    This device has a 4270 mAh battery!!! which is around 2-4 times what many phones have. Samsung's Galaxy S4 for example has a 2600 mAh battery.

    1. Danny 14

      which makes it a good thing surely. Bigger screen + much bigger battery = win

      1. Nigel 11

        Bigger screen + much bigger battery = win

        Unless you start to notice the extra weight?

    2. Mark .

      ASUS's ARM powered Nexus 7 has a 4325mAh battery. The Intel powered Orange San Diego has a 1460mAh battery.

      I think you'll find that larger devices have larger batteries, whether ARM or Intel (partly because they might as well make use of the space, and party because larger displays need consume more battery).

      Since Samsung have chosen Intel for their upcoming Galaxy Tab 3 10", they don't seem to have a problem with it.

  5. greifpad

    i wish this had been around 4 months ago before I bought my Nexus 7. My Galaxy S Plus is getting a bit long in tooth (even after a revitalising rooting and installing SmoothieJB custom ROM) and needs replacing. But I don't want to replace the Nexus 7 which is a great piece of kit. Downside on this Fonepad is the lack of a camera which means for many people it can't replace their existing smartphone.

  6. jerry 4

    Not sure if 3G means something different in the US and the UK, but it would have been nice to tone down your snark and explain how a 3G signal pulls down 21Mbps.

    Is this the same as US TMo's HSPA+? Can I "expect" 21Mpbs on US TMo?

    1. Tom 38

      This phone supports HSPA+, which is a 3G technology. I think in the US, you are told this is a 4G technology and pay more for it.

      HSPA+ UL:5.76 Mbps/DL:21 Mbps

      3G :

      WCDMA :


      1. Danny 14
        Thumb Up

        and whilst ive never had 21Mbps "3" has given me 10Mbps reliably in places (i.e. at my office and at home if I get a good signal) so it does work.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          I get regular 15Mbps with "3"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What is this 3G you speak of?

      Oh that thing you get in towns & cities, except really built up ones?

      1. Tom 38

        If you go with a real 3G network like 3, they have considerably more 3G coverage than other providers. You can actually use it out and about, rather than providers like O2 or Vodafone, where 3G really does just drop out as soon as you leave the town.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    if it comes with one (as it should), methinks I will... consider. Strongly.

    1. Annihilator

      Re: gps

      Due to the size of it, it comes with two GPS chips. One to locate the top half, one to locate the other.

      1. Jan 0 Silver badge

        Re: gps

        Two GPS chips? Better than that, from the Asus Specifications: GPS & Glonass, G-Sensor, E-compass

        It's a shame that it doesn't have a still camera. Is the screen brighter than a Nexus 7?

      2. tony2heads

        Re: gps

        also two clocks - in case the left and right are in different time zones

        1. pepper

          Re: gps

          Actually, you will find that that is to sync whichever side of the tablet is higher then the other, relativity is something to watch out for!

  8. Big_Ted
    Thumb Up

    Got one and its perfect for what I want.

    I need a working phone on me at all times so have to have sims with 2 different operators.

    That would mean 2 phones plus a tablet for when I don't want to use my glasses or want a better browser experience etc.

    So I got one of these, have used it twice for phone when 3 signal dropped and its great for that, use internal sim for the web etc and have the bonus of hotspot on phone if no signal on it.

    So for those of us that must have 2 sims to ensure we can call for help if needed then this is a great choice.

    Oh and its as goog as the nexus IMHO plus feels better in the hand.

  9. Richard Gadsden

    Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

    Not a headset, a handset.

    Decent speaker, decent mic, bluetooth, proper buttons for dialling and enough screen to look up a contact.

    Something like a 6310i formfactor?

    The fonepad would be perfect with one of those.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

      I was wondering the same thing. According to google there are some possibilities out there, though they don't seem to have any dialling options.

      1. Nagy, Balázs András

        Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

        There was an ASUS side-project a few years back that envisioned a tablet and a "dumb" bt handset, but they pulled the plug on it sadly... I can't remember the name, but yeah, it sounded a great idea.

    2. Stu

      Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

      Can't quite tell if you're joking or not! Surely the point of this device is to eliminate the need to carry around any devices sub 5 inches, aka smartphones, dumbphones, general plastic lumps.


      I do, however, get where you're coming from, as you'll never catch me walking around outside with a BT headset dangling from my ear, kind of like how a million fat builders and taxi drivers do.


      As for the 6310i form factor, I was thinking perhaps WAY thinner, something clamshell designed, that is as unobtrusive in the pocket as a piece of corrugated cardboard.

    3. Matt Piechota

      Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

      Sorry, out of stock. I have the black model, but I so would have bought the red had it been available when I bought it!

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

        I have the red one. it works pretty decently, although the button and internal wiring is super delicate. I ended up having a friend of mine who is better with a soldering iron wire a more durable switch to it.

    4. NogginTheNog

      Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

      Google "phone handset bluetooth"...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

      Acer actually did make one, which fitted into the old compact flash slot on some of their PCs. However, it only charged in the CF slot so was useless unless a laptop was around.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

        Take one Bluetooth headset, one chunky pen and some superglue- sorted!

        Actually, a pen-sized Bluetooth handset (that lives in one's breast pocket, for example) would be a more useful device for many people than a 'smart watch'... it could do simple notification alerts too, maybe a simple LCD screen for dispaying th name of incoming calls / SMS.

        One could hold it to ones ear like a normal phone, or perhaps perch it behind the ear like a builder does a pencil.

        Advanced gyro-equiped models could act as a paperless pen - sending handwriting to the connected phone/tablet. And let's go wild, and stick a roller-ball cartridge in there!

    6. BogBeast

      Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

    7. Paul.d.R
      Thumb Up

      Re: Does anyone make a bluetooth handset?

      Samsung HM5000 ?

  10. Jess

    I was very interested, until I saw the processor.

    This with an ARM processor, decent camera, gps (if it hasn't already) and dual sims would be ideal.

  11. Peter Ford

    No Camera?

    Surely that just makes it cover two out of three bases again, like other devices!

    I love the fact that I have a camera on my smart phone, but hate the tiny screen, so I use my tablet for browsing and stuff...

    Why can't these manufacturers just come up with one device that actually does all the things we want it to (for a realistic price).

    It would have added less than a tenner to the price to put a basic 5mp snapper in the case, surely?

    1. AbelSoul

      Re: No Camera?

      My sentiments entirely.

      I was getting increasingly tempted as I read through the review until I got to the part where it explained there's no camera.

      Deal breaker, unfortunately.

      Close, Asus, but no cigar.

      1. Greencat

        Re: No Camera?

        Same hear. The crazy thing is that the Asian version does have a camera - but less storage.

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: No Camera?

      Not a deal-breaker for me, but it might make me think twice. I hardly ever have a use for a fixed-focus, non-zoom, very wide-angle camera, but I've used it once or twice to document incidents when getting a real camera would be impractical.

  12. Interceptor


  13. PatientOne

    I bet the police will love this one...

    Can you imagine how easy it will be to catch motorists using a phone this size while driving?

    1. BlinkenLights

      Re: I bet the police will love this one...

      That would require police being out on patrol keeping an eye open for offending motorists. Nowadays enforcement is left to speed cameras alone.

  14. M Gale

    Back pocket?

    You never put anything like technology in a back pocket. Back pockets break things!

    As a one-time owner of the old Galaxy tab though, yep, they make nice phones. Bizarre that SIM-equipped 7 inch tablets (or any SIM-equipped tablet) doesn't have a phone dialler as a "just in case" feature anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back pocket?

      I'm sure 7" galaxy tabs can be used as a phone. A recent openreach engineer we had visit was definately using a 7" tab of some sort to make phone calls. Said they had all been provided with them so they didn't, erm, need a phone and a tablet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Back pocket?

        >A recent openreach engineer we had visit was definately using a 7" tab of some sort to make phone calls.

        That wasn't an Openreach engineer, that was a contractor.

  15. Mark .

    "The smartphone that thinks it’s a tablet"

    Can we at last drop the whole smartphones/tablets thing? Smartphones _are_ tablets, different names for the same kind of thing. Acknowledging this is much simpler than the muddle the media seem to be in, trying to decide whether 5-6" devices are "phones" or "tablets", or let alone trying to make sense of devices like this Fonepad.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: "The smartphone that thinks it’s a tablet"

      no no no - they are all computers with different sets of peripherals attached. In an ideal world you would find a tablet that could 'host;' your simple easy phone and other devices and make the most of them.

      But then you wouldn't buy several computers to do very slightly different jobs.

  16. armyknife

    Titles are for toffs

    They should make a tough multi-screen smartphone, it could have several 6-9 inch screens supported in an unbreakable steel or iron grid, which could be painted bright red, so easy to find if you misplaced it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Compared to a StarN9599, this product handles and looks like a brick. The concept is OK, but the execution should be put out of it's misery ASAP. A good 7inch design will fit into a shirt pocket, perhaps just, for some shirts, but an 8 inch may be possible with good packaging. Dual sim?

  18. scruncher

    Not Gorilla Glassed

    Just in case that was going to sway someone's purchase. I'm waiting for the Asian models to drop to a realistic price on ebay before I plump for one. They come with a rear camera. No idea why European models don't.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Not Gorilla Glassed

      "Gorilla" glass is just a brand name, like Triplex or any of the other manufacturers of toughened glass. Bit like turning down a borosilicate baking dish because it doesn't have a "Pyrex" brand.

      So long as it's comparitively tough, I guess it doesn't matter too much.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Not Gorilla Glassed

        Bit like turning down a borosilicate baking dish because it doesn't have a "Pyrex" brand.

        In the US, at least, "Pyrex" cookware (no longer made by Corning - they licensed the name out years ago) isn't borosilicate. It's cheap soda lime glass. Consumer Reports did a story on it some months back.

        Not that this contradicts your point - in fact it endorses it. What matters is the material, not the trademark slapped on it.

    2. Tom 7

      Re: Not Gorilla Glassed

      Is gorilla glass the stuff that breaks on every iphone I see? I'm waiting for stick on cracks like those bullet holes you used to get on cars.

    3. Al Taylor

      Re: Not Gorilla Glassed

      Fair cop.

      Looking back at my notes for the review I see "GG IPS LCD" written down, but I'll be stuffed if I can recall were I got that info from and I can find no confirmation for it now that I re-check. It's certainly a toughened glass of some sort, but as you say, not Gorilla Glass proper. I'll see if I can get any more details from Asus.

  19. h3

    That processor is clocked slower than the Orange San Diego. Crazy to buy something like this before Intel introduce their new ranges.

    1. Al Taylor

      True, but...

      the next chip or SoC or GPU is always just around the corner. No matter what you buy today you'll get better for less in 12 months time.

  20. Dana W


    I've said it and said it. Android is about having the biggest phone so you can show it to your friends.

    Well, there it is.

    Seriously, that is asinine. Who would not feel like a complete prat holing that to the side of their head?

    1. Al Taylor

      Re: See?

      "Seriously, that is asinine. Who would not feel like a complete prat holing that to the side of their head?"

      As I said in the review, you do look a wee bit of a spanner if you use it to make a call without an earpiece or headphone, but a fully-functional smartphone and tablet combined for £180? For that level of convenience and saving I'd be prepared to look a slight prat in front of people whose opinion I count for naught and who should have better things to do with their time than watch me make a phone call.

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: See?

      Who gives a fuck what you look like if it meets your needs. Grow up.

      <--- The one with the Galaxy Note in the pocket

      1. dave 158

        Re: See?

        Have a Galaxy Note - had all the Dom Joly jokes when I got that. Is obviously so shite and unloved that they've released a second one and pretty much all top end phones now are about that size.

        Have just bought the Asus, and am going thru the same - as previously put, it's really surprising that this hasn't been done in a more mainstream manner before.

        For me, using a set of headphones with a microphone appears to work ( despite the handbook saying that the audio jack is one way only, so could just be a really good pickup on the inbuilt mic ).

        Am tempted with the 'break the bluetooth' idea, build it into a stylus maybe.

        Am I bothered about looking a twat on the train ? Nah, I work for a bank, so any early morning/late evening calls make me look like a twat any way.

        Have fun, play nice.


  21. fiatlux


    Although Android softs run in a VM, I understand there are all sort of software compatibility issues on devices not running on ARM CPUs. That's what I gather from the feedback on the Razr-I and some cheap chinese slabs.

    1. Al Taylor

      Re: Compatibility?

      I've owned a Motorola Razr i for six months and have not encountered a single compatibility issue. If there are any software / app incompatibility problems with major OEM Intel Android products I've not been able to find them despite spending quite some time - in a professional capacity - looking.

  22. WatAWorld

    Couple it with a bluetooth headset.

    Couple it with a bluetooth headset.

    I'm tired of tiny feminine people with tiny feminine hands complaining about man-sized phones and tablets.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So basically

    It's a phone that's great as long as you don't want to use it as a phone?

  24. Hillman_Hunter


    I have a Galaxy Note and people tell me it makes me look like a spanner all the time.

    It has spared me the expense of buying a tablet and a phone, who's the spanner now!!

    (me obviously but not bovered.)

    this thing It occurs to me, if you could hook it to your landline would make a good desk phone (which are pretty much all terrible)

  25. Dave Lawton

    Shame it isn't ARM powered

    Battery life would have been even better, AND they could sell it even cheaper.

  26. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Oh, Maslow, where is thy hierarchy now?

    Do you really need a smartphone and a tablet?

    No. Indeed, I don't need a smartphone or a tablet, and I'll be damned few people do.

    These are tools, and they have useful functions (and a great many more that are merely entertaining), but they are hardly essential. And for every one of the - rare - people who can claim that a smartphone did serve some critical function for them at some point, you could no doubt find someone else who resolved a similar crisis without one. Somehow we survived for millions of years without the things.

    Now downvote this post and get off my lawn. Where's my shaking cane when I need it?

    1. dave 158

      Re: Oh, Maslow, where is thy hierarchy now?

      I dont neeeeeed a smartphone, but my work want to be able to get ahold of me at stupid o'clock so I need a phone.

      I dont neeeeeeed a tablet, but it saves taking a book on the train, and an audio device, and possibly a pager.

      If I can get away with have one piece of non-essential hardware on me instead of two, three, more then I'm all in.

      and just think of the environmental impact you'll be avoiding !!! ;-)

      Have fun, play nice


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