TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Unveiled alongside the super-slim Transformer Book T300 Chi and the Transformer Book V with its mixed Android-Windows wizardry, the FonePad 8 is something of a runt in this year's Computex litter.
The FonePad 8's lack of cool features may actually work in its favor though -- this 8-inch phablet is probably easier and cheaper to make, and will likely hit markets earlier.
Asus has not yet released any information about pricing and availability, but I reckon it should be similar to how the FonePad was previously positioned, and should be relatively affordable in the $300 (£180, AU$325) range.
Design and display
The FonePad 8 is meant to be a phablet, but at 8 inches, it's much larger than what you'd normally consider to be a phone.
In fact, it's as big as an iPad Mini or the Xiaomi Mi Pad, which makes it an odd choice to use as a phone, and I found it especially awkward to have such a massive screen next to my face. You can use a Bluetooth headset to avoid looking silly, of course, but I'd expect most people to only consider phoning with this in an emergency.
The 8-inch display has a 1,280x800-pixel resolution, which isn't nearly as good as the 1080p screens on competitors such as the Nexus 7. It looked sharp enough for me during my brief time with it.
One thing I liked was how Asus has made the bezel really thin -- it's just 5mm thick, but it's still visible. I do hope the phablet has palm detection built-in though, as it would make for a frustrating experience without.
While comparisons of the design with the iPad Mini are inevitable, it didn't really strike me as a copycat when I first set eyes on it. This is probably due to the aspect ratio of the display -- the FonePad isn't quite as wide.
The rear of the FonePad 8 stands out. I quite like the sandpaper-like pattern used, it gives the phablet a really good grip, unlike the glossy surfaces you find on other devices. It will come in black, red, white and gold.
Specs and software
The FonePad is powered by the latest quad-core 1.83GHz Intel Atom Z3560 processor. That's a Moorefield, if you're following Intel's chip families. Hopefully this will deliver better performance than Intel's previous Bay Trail devices on the Android platform.
The FonePad comes with 1GB of RAM, and will have either 8GB or 16GB of onboard storage. The phablet also has a microSD card slot, should you require more space.
The phone only has 3G connectivity, but it has dual-SIM capabilities. Asus rates the FonePad 8 to have up to 10 hours of battery life. A rear 5-megapixel camera and a front 2-megapixel shooter completes its hardware setup.
Software-wise, the FonePad runs Android 4.4 KitKat, with a custom Asus skin called Zen UI. I liked Zen UI when I reviewed the ZenFone 5, and I'm glad to see it being used on the FonePad 8. It gives the tablet a very elegant feel that stands out.
If Asus can keep the price of the the FonePad 8 to around the same as the first FonePad, the company may have a cheap device that may appeal if you want a tablet that can make occasional calls, saving you buying a separate phone. The dual-SIM capabilities will also appeal to those who like to travel too.