Asus announced the FonePad Note 6 earlier in 2013 and it was released in late 2013 after an overhaul of some kind. Some months have past but we have had the chance to take the FonePad Note 6 for a ride and we are here to let you know how it fared.
Some of you might be thinking that finally someone has had the guts to put out a smartphone that has the capability to be a direct competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Note, be it the Note 2 or 3, since the FonePad is the only other smartphone on the market that has a built-in stylus functionality.
Design and Ergonomics
The FonePad is available in both black and white, and when you look at it in pictures you may have probably noticed that it looks a little too big to be comfortably held in hand. Well you might be just right as the FonePad 6 sits at 164.8 x 88.8 x 10.3 mm, so for those of you that think the Note 3 is big as hell, here are the dimensions of the Note 3 for comparison purposes, 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm.
It is true that the FonePad houses a 6.0 inch screen while the Note only houses a 5.7 inch screen, but if you take a close look at the pictures you can see that there are a lot of pointers that can be given to Asus in order to improve the design of the FonePad, not only to make it look better but mainly to improve usability.
After handling the FonePad for a few minutes I noticed that my hands were starting to tire pretty quickly, this is no news for those who know the actual weight of the Pad, 210g.
Lets take a look at how buttons and slots are placed on the Pad.
On the bottom of the Pad 6 you have the micro usb cable slot in the middle, next to it on the left you have the microphone and on the right you will find the stylus holding slot.
On the right side there is the lock/power button near the top and the volume rocker right below it. On the top side of the FonePad you will only find the 3.5mm earphone plug.
Near the top left side of the FonePad you will find a cover for the microSIM and microSD card slots. On the front you have the massive 6.0 inch Super IPS LCD screen and the stereo speakers, on the top and bottom. Lastly, on the back of the Note 6 you have the 8 MP camera without a LED flash, and this is all you need to know about the design of the Note 6.
There has been loads of hype regarding smartphone screens nowadays, mainly because of their resolution, or whether they are curved or not. In order to not stay behind Asus equipped the FonePad Note 6 with a 6.0 inch Super IPS screen with Full HD resolution, much like Samsung’s Note 3, being that the difference between the two, is the fact that the Note 3 has a Super AMOLED screen, the ppi’s, the Note 6 has 367 ppi while the Note 3 has 386 ppi and the actual size.
We all know that numbers mean next to nothing these days, seeing that most of the smartphones that get into the market have almost exactly the same specifications, so lets move on to how the Note 6’s screen actually behaved.
Starting of with the viewing angles, the Note’s screen fared pretty well, as you can lay it flat on the table and still see clearly what it is being displayed on the screen. This is true not only about the horizontal viewing angle but also for the vertical viewing angle.
There is also the question about the luminosity that the screen can actually produce. Lets just say that on a sunny day you will probably have some difficulty seeing what is on the screen if you don’t turn it up near to the max. This is an issue, as when you turn it up the picture will lose quality, and this is quite noticeable, especially when it starts to irritate your eyes
Performance and Software
The Note 6 comes with 4.2.2 Android version, and when we had it in for testing, about a month ago, there was still no update available.
You will notice a few graphical differences between the Android graphical UI and the one applied in the FonePad, as is usual in Asus devices. There are also a few added widgets as well as a few proprietary applications.
Here’s a list of the preinstalled apps you will have to live with if you decide to get one of these:
- Amazon Kindle
- App Backup
- App Locker
- Parental Lock
- Polaris Office 4.0
- Power Saver
- Setup Wizard
And yes, those are a lot of applications to live with.
We have covered most of this applications in previous Asus device reviews, so if you want you can look at them to know more about each of them.
One of them we haven’t seen before is the AOLink, which allows you to search, play and share files in your devices, desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, anywhere.
When it comes to settings you have all the usual suspects present in Android devices, Data usage, call settings, sound, display, storage, battery, apps, etc. Besides those you also have the Asus customized settings and Stylus settings.
In the stylus settings you can choose which is your dominant hand, if you want the stylus attach/detach sound, if you want the phone to alert you when you walk away without the stylus nearby, and loads of other stuff you can see in the printscreens below.
One thing that I found was great in the Note 6 was the sound quality, those massive front speakers really do their job quite nicely, and unlike the usual speakers that are on the back or on the sides of the devices, you won’t find yourself covering these and muffling the sound as is usual. You will actually feel the bass when holding the device while playing a movie or listening to your favorite tunes.
So we ran a few benchmark tests and used the Note 6 to play a few games, the usual suspects, Fruit Ninja, Dead Trigger 2 and Real Racing 3. It didn’t disappoint while playing the games, as there weren’t any hugely noticeable slowdowns of any kind, although you will notice this while watching the video review while we were playing real racing 3.
There was some lagging while roaming around homescreens and web pages now and then, something that we weren’t expecting due to the specs of the Note 6.
The first thought we had when we grabbed the Note 6 was simply, where the hell is the flash? Well yes we have a 8MP camera capable of taking pictures up to 3264×2448 pixels, and what good does that do to us if we can’t take any pictures if the light conditions aren’t perfect?
It is definitely hard taking pictures without a LED flash as you will be able to see from the snapshots we tried taking.
You also have a 1.2MP front camera, which is more than enough for a few video calls when needed. The rear camera can also record videos at 1080p@30fps. But still..what happened to the flash?
From what we can deduce, since the Note 6 isn’t really a smartphone, but a phablet, or even a tablet due to its weight and size, Asus might have thought that tablets aren’t really used to take pictures, so a LED flash wouldn’t be really useful, well, in this case, it actually would have.
Connectivity and Battery Life
Let’s start with connectivity.
The FonePad Note 6 has WiFi (a, b, g, n), WiFi Direct and hotspot it also has 3.0 Bluetooth and NFC.
Everywhere I took the Note 6 I always seemed to have a network connection either WiFi or 3G. It behaved much like every other smartphone we tested, it had network levels similar to those of the Note 3, both WiFi and 3G. When it came to network speeds the Note 6 also behaved as we expected, being that both download and upload speeds were the usual in our test areas.
When it comes to battery life you first must know that the Note 6 has a 3200mAh battery which is said to have an autonomy of up to 490 hours while using 2G, 334 hours using 3G and 23 hours of talk time. The reality is that we had it on for a few days, performing benchmark tests, calls, and playing games, and we only had to recharge it after 24 hours of continuous use.
Video Review Part 1
Video Review Part 2
- Too many proprietary applications
- Hefty device
- No flash accompanying the rear camera
There isn’t much to say about the FonePad Note 6 besides what has been said above, one thing missing though is the price tag, at about 350€ this is one of the most affordable phablets in the market these days.
Yes the Note 6 is a bit hunky, and it doesn’t have the premium feel we have felt in previous Asus products but if you want an Android device with a massive screen, good specifications and that has a somewhat decent battery life, you might want to take a look at the FonePad Note 6 at a close store to see if it fits your needs. One thing is for sure, if you want to be able to take some pictures during night time or in places where light isn’t nearly close to perfect, the Note 6 is not for you.
On the other hand, if you want an Android device that is stylus ready and don’t want to give more than 600€ for it, at this point in time you really have no other choice.
Review by: Cátia Sofia @ AndroidEmotions