I used the ASUS Fonepad with my main SIM card — the one people call me on. So how did it go?
For the past few weeks I've had in my possession an ASUS Fonepad. A 7-inch Jelly Bean tablet with Intel internals and, oh yes, an earpiece. For this is more than just a tablet — it has full phone capabilities. ASUS is even marketing the Fonepad as a phone, too. The manufacturer's first promotional videos clearly showed what they envisaged users doing with this device — holding it up to their head.
So I put my main SIM card into it — the one my family calls me on — and tried it out. Is it really so ridiculous to use a 7-inch "phone" in this way? Read on to find out.
The tl;dr version is this — holding this up to my head made me more self-conscious than any other piece of technology I've ever used in public. With the help of Alex Dobie, we set up a photo/video op in central London for the purposes of the review. Even though there was an element of joking around, I can honestly say I didn't feel at all comfortable. People can't help but look at you strangely when you're holding a tablet to your ear and having a conversation.
It's not physically comfortable either. While even my small hands can safely wrap around the rear of the Fonepad, it's just not natural to hold something like that to up to your ear. When I'm out and about too, I generally pack tablets into my gear bag. Not even a 7-incher will fit comfortably in my jeans pocket, and with the Fonepad also being a phone, I missed so many calls through it being tucked away in my bag. In summer it's too hot to wear a jacket too, so for me at least, the bag is the only option.
Using it somewhere such as on a train, the Fonepad really came into its own. Headphones plugged in, using one device instead of two — or even three, since when I'm using a tablet my laptop generally stays packed away. When someone calls, you hit answer, hands free kicks in and all is well. No uncomfortable moments; instead pure convenience.
I went into the review with an open mind, but for me, a 7-inch phone is just too big. I'm someone who still makes a lot of phone calls, and the Fonepad is too hefty, too cumbersome for a device intended to be used in that way. If you're mainly chasing an inexpensive 3G-enabled tablet that could occasionally make the odd phone call, you'll be fine. But it's just not for me — especially not as a daily driver. And I felt utterly, truly, totally ridiculous standing on a busy street in the capital with this thing up against my face.