While Asus' Padfone is a smartphone that slots into a tablet docking station, the Fonepad is a tablet with a SIM card slot and therefore the ability to make phone calls. It will compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 which was also unveiled at MWC this week. See also Group test: what's the best cheap tablet PC?
You'd be forgiven for mistaking the Fonepad for the Nexus 7, they look extremely similar in appearance. Both are 7in tablets of the same size and shape. The subtle difference on the front is the ear-piece so you can hear the person on the other end of the phone.
The backside of the Fonepad looks quite different to the dotted rubber of the Nexus 7. It has a metal rear cover which comes in two colours. It feels more premium than the Nexus 7 and overall build quality is just as good.
The Fonepad is pretty thin and light making it easy to hold in one hand like the Nexus 7. It felt less unwieldy than the larger Galaxy Note 8.0.
Specifications are a little different to the Nexus 7, though. It's rocking the same 7in IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 800, but internal components are altered.
The Asus Fonepad is powered by an Intel Atom Z2420, a dual-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz and 1GB of RAM. The tablet, sorry phablet, was running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean well enough when we used the Fonepad but we did notice some lag when scrolling.
According to the spec sheet here at MWC, the Fonepad will be available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB models. Unlike the Nexus 7, there's a microSD card slot for expansion (up to 32GB cards). Also included is 5GB of Asus WebStorage, free for life.
Cameras are pretty low spec at 3Mp rear and 1.3Mp front facing. This isn't great considering most users rely on their smartphone's camera for day to day snaps.
Asus has loaded the Fonepad with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is almost the latest version. However, it's not vanilla Android like the Nexus 7. The interface is similar to that of Asus' Transformer Pad range of tablets – good looking. Everything is where you would expect it to be and there's an extra button alongside the usual back, home and menu.
This extra button is for Floating Apps, which is a bit like having windows on your PC desktop. Unlike Samsung's PopUpPlay, there's a fairly big choice of what you can have floating around the Android OS.
Apart from looking a bit stupid by holding a 7in tablet to your face to have a phone call, we see another issue if you're planning to have one device to be your smartphone and tablet. At 7in the Fonepad is a small tablet and a huge phone, it's not really pocket-sized which means you'll need to carry it around in bag and this is going to make it difficult to know when you're being called or have received a text message or similar notification.
What it does do is solve the problem of having to spend shed loads of money to be able to own a decent smartphone and tablet. At £179 we can see this as a viable option for those wanting this hybrid offering. The Galaxy Note 8.0 is likely to be a much more expensive option.