Imagine a Nexus 7 that makes phone calls and has a few other minor differences, both internally and externally. The device you’ve just pictured actually exists — it’s called the ASUS FonePad, and it was unveiled today by ASUS at Mobile World Conference 2013.
ASUS is one tablet maker that isn’t afraid to experiment. It was one of the first Android tablet manufacturers to have any kind of success with a tablet keyboard dock (the Transformer line), and its PadFone devices allow you to dock a smartphone into a tablet when you want a large-screen experience. In that context, creating a 7-inch tablet capable of making phone calls seems par for the ASUS course.
The FonePad — and why ASUS chose that name when the PadFone exists, I’ll never know — isn’t powered by the quad-core Tegra 3 that is found inside the Nexus 7. Instead, the FonePad opts for an Intel Atom Z2420 processor, which comes in at 1.2GHz. Graphics are handled by a PowerVR GX540 GPU. We’ll have to wait and see whether the performance from those changed components are better or worse than the Nexus 7, but I have a feeling ASUS wouldn’t have made that change if it was going to hurt the product. Otherwise, you’ll find the same 1 GB of RAM, the same 1.2MP front-facing shooter, and the same storage options (16 and 32 GB) as the Nexus 7.
As far as the FonePad’s exterior goes, ASUS chose to go a different route than the rubberized plastic found on the Nexus 7. The body around the FonePad is entirely metal. You’ll also find a slot on the FonePad that was missing from the Nexus 7 — one for MicroSD cards, which means you can expand the storage on your FonePad by up to 32 GB. The display looks to be the same as the Nexus 7’s — 1,280 by 800 pixels, though we don’t know if the display is IPS.
Will the FonePad make it to the U.S.? We can’t say for sure. Early word is that the device will launch between April and June at a price of 219 euros in the U.K., and $249 in the Asia-Pacific region. If the FonePad made it stateside, it would certainly be a compelling device for those who don’t want to carry separate phone and tablet devices around with them, but since it isn’t a Nexus device, the FonePad wouldn’t get the quick updates that Nexus 7 owners are accustomed to.
Would you ever make a phone call from a 7-inch tablet? Do you think this device has a shot at success? Let us know in the comments.