Back when Google first announced the HSPA+ Nexus 7, I discussed how I was considering switching to the Nexus 7 with mobile data as my only device, and not getting a Nexus 4. In the end, I decided not to ditch the smartphone for a Nexus 7 with custom software, and now have only a Nexus 4 as my Nexus 7 has been sent off to ASUS who will hopefully repair it. However, although I haven’t yet gone the tablet only route, ASUS has just released a new tablet that suggest others might be continuing the Galaxy Note’s trend to the logical conclusion of a true tablet smartphone.
The Fonepad, which draws its name from ASUS’s previous Padfone, is actually much like the HSPA+ Nexus 7. Both tablets have 7-inch, 1280 x 800 displays, look quite similar, and support HSPA+ cellular connectivity. The Fonepad is , however, different in two significant ways: Instead of a Tegra 3 or other ARM processor the Fonepad has an Intel Atom Z2420 processor clocked at 1.2GHz, and includes calling functionality out of the box. ASUS also added a few small tweaks such as a 3MP rear camera and microSD card slot that further differentiate the tablet from the Nexus 7.
While the Fonepad isn’t the first tablet to offer voice calling capabilities out of the box (several of the European Samsung Galaxy Tabs include the feature), it was interesting to me because it is almost like an upgrade to the HSPA+ Nexus 7 with many of the features that were missing from the original version. The Intel processor is something of an unknown variable that could be either good or bad, but at the price of €219 (about $325 USD converted directly) the tablet isn’t too much more expensive than the HSPA+ Nexus 7. I doubt it will become very popular, even if officially released in the States, but I do find it quite interesting that more manufacturers are embracing the idea of a true tablet phone, and perhaps even disregarding the awkward “phablets.”[TechCrunch]