ASUS Fonepad 7 (FE171CG) Review
We’ve recently brought you the quick review of the 2015 ASUS Fonepad 7, and after spending a few more days with it we’re now ready to share our full assessment of this 7-inch budget tablet.
If you’ve read our quick review you may skip to VS Fonepad 7 (FE170CG) for the comparison against the older model in design.
Design and Construction
The Fonepad 7 is the company’s budget offering in the 7-inch segment. The goal here is to give potential buyers an option to get decent specs without asking for much in return. Its previous model, the FE170CG (HINT: The older is 170, new model is 171) performed well during our sweet time with it. Needless to say we’ve got big expectations for the refreshed FE171CG.
The upper area is where the 2MP front camera sits comfortably just beside the speaker grille. There’s a thick bezel up top and on the bottom which isn’t all that bad, as it gives room to hold the device in landscape view.
The company’s proud branding is all that can be seen at the base of the device, while its entire surrounding is emblazoned with a strip of metal chrome which adds character to the tablet. This is a big improvement from the FE170CG that rather has a round-edged back cover with no details except for its textured panel.
At just 7.9mm, the new Fonepad 7 is thinner than its predecessor which stretches to 10.7mm thick. It definitely looks sleeker and feels better to hold.
The back cover is a whole panel made of high-quality plastic. It has a very minimal look — no segments, is monochromatic in color, and was opted to have a matte finish that’s smooth to the hands.
Squeezed altogether at the left side of the back panel are the microUSB port, 3,5mm audio jack, 5-megapixel rear camera, volume rocker, and power/lock button. Just like its previous model, it still has no flash of any kind to accompany its rear camera. But as we’ve pointed out in our previous review, 7-inch tablets aren’t as commonly-used for photos as smartphones.
The top left side hides a flap that opens to reveal dual-SIM card slots. The Fonepad 7 only accepts micro SIMs so you best get your SIM cards trimmed.
Expansion for memory is at the bottom right of the back cover. It’s a push in/push out kind of system going on here — which may drive other users (like me) paranoid of the microSD card falling off by accident. So far it’s secured tight, locked in place, and stayed that way for the entire duration.
Overall, the Fonepad 7’s physique definitely gets our approval — it is impressively thin, packs a good heft for the hands, and is way more stylish than the company’s previous model.
VS Fonepad 7 (FE170CG)
Placing it side-by-side the 2014 Fonepad 7, we notice the taller build of the newer model. Dimensions of both tablets measure at 192 x 110 x 10.7 mm (2014 Fonepad 7) and 196 x 110.6 x 7.9 mm (2015 Fonepad 7). Its thinner profile in addition to the surrounding chrome trim is what we liked the most about the new Fonepad in terms of design.
The back also shows the company opting for a matte finish covering the entire panel which is smooth to the hands, unlike the older variant with a hard glossy shell housing the internals. In addition, the rear camera got squeezed to the upper left corner from its original place at the center.
Looking at both closely shows how much thinner the new Fonepad 7 got and received better-looking buttons.
Display and Multimedia
Watching a Full HD video on it was enjoyable that it made us want to finish the movie. Saturation was decent and contrast was at a good balance. It could, however, use a little bit more brightness.
As for the sound, its speaker grille aims right at you so dialogue and sound effects are pretty easy to hear but it sits lonely up top. If only it had dual speakers with another grille at the base we would highly recommend using it for movies and playing games.
OS, UI, and Apps
As we’ve mentioned during the quick review, it handled switching apps fairly well with just slight hiccups. We saw it again under a new light after spending more time with it, but we’ll further discuss that later on. The company’s ZenUI is implemented here as well so you’ll get that neat and easy-on-the-eyes layout.
It comes pre-loaded with the company’s storage and entertainment apps like WebStorage that offers 5GB worth of space online and PC Link that allows you to mirror your content to a bigger screen. These are some of the apps for productivity and entertainment that are readily under your disposal.
The Fonepad 7 packs an upgraded but still modest 5MP rear camera with no flash. It takes decent shots, but contrast (for me) overdid it on some photos. Colors were reproduced vibrantly and HDR is effective, producing good results. Check out the samples below.
[fancygallery id=”175″ album=”212″]
Performance and Benchmarks
ASUS integrated its Hyper Threading Technology to this 7-inch tablet which should be more efficient in processing data than other CPUs. It is then partnered with the same Intel Atom Z2520 dual-core processor present inside its predecessor as well as 1GB RAM. What’s improved is the storage space that’s been doubled at 8GB (there’s also a 16GB variant for an additional Php1K)
Running our usual benchmark tests, we got the following scores and compared them in some of the results from the earlier variant:
- AnTuTu: 17,970 (FE171CG)/15,245 (FE170CG)
- Quadrant Standard: 6,902 (FE171CG)/6,362 (FE170CG)
- Vellamo: 578 (Metal), 847 (Multicore), 1428 (Chrome Browser)
Note: We ran into some trouble in starting the benchmark test for 3D Mark. It just kept showing a black screen and would crash when we hit the Back button. It’s still unsure what caused this problem. Moving on…
After we’ve used a portion of its internal memory and have installed apps that we usually use, the lags got more noticeable a few days after our initial review.
Touch registration on its display sometimes got a bit off too — it was slow to respond and at times we had to give an on-screen button a few taps before it successfully registers. This happened about 20% of the time we were using the tablet to surf the web and check social media sites.
The Fonepad’s performance, although laggy, was still tolerable. We’ve also had our fair share of lags with the previous model but as we’ve pointed out, it still delivers more than what it’s asking from you (price-wise).
Connectivity and Call Quality
One of the main purposes of a tablet is for a more enjoyable viewing and surfing the web through a bigger screen real estate. Its 3G connectivity further improved this experience with a reliable reception for us to go online and check our emails even while on-the-go. Streaming videos were also undoubtedly better through a 7-inch display rather than on my 4-inch iPhone 5.
We had no issues with the call quality of the Fonepad 7. Voice was clear and audible from both end of the lines and even the loudspeaker works fine. Everything went a-okay.
As for the battery life, we played a video on loop with brightness and volume at 50%, headphones plugged in, and on airplane mode. We then extrapolated the number of hours it would take to drain the battery at its rate and resulted to a whopping 16 hours of continuous playback. ASUS embedded an impressive power management technology into this device.
On the other hand, there was just a minor issue regarding the charging icon as it still appears even after we’ve unplugged the charging cable. This could be easily fixed by restarting the device but it kept on appearing from time to time. Hopefully this is just an issue unique to this unit.
The Fonepad 7 was a handy gadget to have around. It looked good to the point we’ve been counting friends that take a second look at the tablet and complement its physique. Its outstanding battery life also made a good partner to my iPhone 5 that easily gets drained when mobile data is active.
Although when asked how it performs, we couldn’t help but mention the noticeable lags. But then again, for a sub-Php6K tablet with Intel’s CPU, this is quite a deal if you can live with the slight delay issues.
ASUS Fonepad 7 (FE171CG) specs:
7-inch WSVGA IPS display, 1024×600 @170ppi
1.2Ghz Intel Atom Z2520 dual-core processor w/ Hype-Threading Technology
PowerVR SGX 544MP2 GPU
8GB internal storage
Expandable up to 64GB via microSD card
5-megapixel rear camera
2-megapixel front camera
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 w/ A2DP
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
Dimension: 196 x 110.6 x 7.9 mm
Android 4.4 KitKat
Price: Php5,995 (Php6,995 for 16GB variant)
What we liked about it:
- Slim, sexy design
- Remarkable battery life
- Good 3G reception
What we didn’t like:
- Lags/delays are noticeable
- Underwhelming touchscreen registration
- Battery charging indicator issue