The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 was just one of a trio of tablets that was launched locally a few months back. For what’s supposed to be an entry-level tablet, the folks over at ASUS surprisingly paid some attention to the ZenPad 7.0‘s form and not just its function. Does it deserve a spot under your Christmas tree this year? Find out in my full review.
Build Quality and Design
Despite it’s affordable price point, the ZenPad 7.0 is a surprisingly stylish looker. The bezels on either side of the screen have been minimized, allowing for a much more comfortable one-handed grip. This should come in handy more often than you might think since you can actually make and take calls on the device.
Above the screen, you’ll find the earpiece, front camera, and sensors.
Below the screen, you won’t find any capacitive navigation keys since they’re baked into the UI itself. Instead, you’ll only find the ASUS logo.
There aren’t any hardware features on the left.
On the right side though, you’ll find the volume rocker, power/lock button, and a small notch to help when prying of the back cover.
At the top is the 3.5mm headset jack.
At the bottom is the micro USB port, along with a mic pinhole for making calls or recording your voice.
At the back, you’ll find the rear camera, ASUS logo, and the ASUS ZenPad and Intel Inside branding.
The back cover is removable, but doesn’t actually give you access to the battery. Seems like a waste if you’re only going to need to remove it to access the SIM and microSD slots.
It does have a really nice texture though that attempts to mimic leather in appearance. It’s still plastic to the touch of course, but this particular design touch is a much-appreciated alternative to generic glossy or matte finishes.
In case you didn’t guess it from the name, the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 features a 7 inch IPS screen with HD resolution. Although HD isn’t the best resolution you can get these days, it’s still sharp enough that most people won’t notice at this screen size. For the most part, you can still enjoy browsing websites and reading comics and manga on the ZenPad 7.0’s screen. Sure, you might have to zoom in occasionally, but only during those few times when the text can get really small.
Software and UI
The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, which brings along with it a number of benefits, such as improved battery life over previous versions of Android, as well as a revamped Material design that aims for a cleaner and lighter look to the Android interface. ASUS also brings their own flavor to the UI thanks to the ASUS Launcher that runs on top.
Ordinarily, I would prefer the stock Android launcher, but only because I tend to download a more customizable third-party launcher that lets me customize things like transition animations, icons, and more. However, the ASUS Launcher already lets you do all that. It features about the same amount of customization that Apex and Nova launcher can offer so there isn’t a need to download a different one.
The same thing goes for many of the stock ASUS apps, such as Messaging, which allows you to personalize the look and feel of the app. You can do things like choose a color scheme, switch between a light or dark theme, or choose a custom background. This level of customization can lead to a bit of bloat. Thankfully though, you can still disable them.
Benchmarks and Performance
Under the hood of the ZenPad 7.0 beats a 64-bit Intel SoFIA 3G-R C3230RK quad core processor with a Mali 450 GPU. It’s not the most powerful SoC, but it gets the job done. However, while it can result in snappy performance on the ZenPad C 7.0 and its WSVGA screen, the ZenPad 7.0 has a higher resolution HD screen and more pixels to push, so the performance can actually bog down when doing some heavy multitasking. This much was evident in the benchmarks I ran this device through.
The device barely breaks the 20,000 point mark in Antutu, performing less favorably against even the likes of the entry level Mi 2. It does even worse in Vellamo Metal (single core test) and Vellamo Multicore. In Vellamo Multicore, even a relatively ancient device like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus surpasses it. To be clear though, the ZenPad 7.0 is an entry-level device in itself, so this kind of performance shouldn’t be that disappointing considering the price point.
While the ZenPad 7.0 doesn’t exactly come equipped with the best cameras (8mp autofocus/2mp fixed), it still comes with the same full-fledged camera app as can be found on the latest Zenfones. In addition to the generic Auto, HDR, and Panorama modes, you also get cool shooting modes such as Beautification, Depth of Field, GIF Animation and more. They don’t make the cameras any better, but it can still be an enjoyable experience and the 8mp autofocus camera on the back is at least good enough for some decent shots every now and then.
Entertainment and Gaming
For the most part, the ZenPad 7.0 excels as an entertainment device. The HD IPS screen is acceptably sharp and provides accurate color reproduction so you can fully appreciate movies and games.
The ZenPad 7.0 was one of my favorite devices to use when testing out iFlix because it’s lightweight and easy to hold using just one hand. The loudspeakers aren’t that loud, but they’ll do in a jiff.
Angry Birds 2
As a casual gaming tablet, the ZenPad 7.0 is also quite serviceable.
Dead Trigger 2
It’s when you get to games like Dead Trigger 2 that you’ll start getting frustrated at the sluggishness of the tablet. It’s still able to render many of the graphical effects in this game, but the frame rates can drag.
Real Racing 3
The same sluggish performance plagued Real Racing 3, which is another realistic and graphically heavy game. The game was still playable, however to really perform well in the game, the device needs to respond well to input, and unfortunately, that’s just not the case with the ZenPad 7.0.
The tablet is powered by a 3,450mAh battery. This is a bit small for a 7 inch tablet, especially considering that there are many midrange to high end smartphones with screen sizes from 5 to 5.5 inches coming with 3,000mAh batteries or better. I ran it through a couple of my favorite battery benchmarks: GFXBench and PC Mark
GFXBench estimated that the battery would be drained after 130.3 minutes of straight gaming, or 2.17 hours. In a more work-oriented scenario divided between doing things like editing photos, browsing the web, and playing video, PC Mark estimates that the ZenPad 7.0 will last 3 hours and 29 minutes if used straight.
In real life, the ZenPad 7.0 has excellent standby time, with the battery showing minimal drops between waking the device up. However, it’s when you start using it that the battery can drain quite quickly. This would still be acceptable with most tablets, but this is a tablet that aims to replace your phone as well, so the battery life when the device is active is a bit of a disappointment.
So Should You Buy the ASUS ZenPad 7.0?
As far as tablets go, the ZenPad 7.0 represents a lot of bang for buck. It comes with an excellent screen for the price and can do most things you would expect a tablet to do, all while looking good doing it. However, it’s certainly no gaming tablet. If you can accept its limitations, the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 is awesomely stylish purchase that won’t break the bank.
ASUS ZenPad 7.0 Specs
- 7″ HD IPS display (800 x 1,280 resolution, 216ppi)
- 64-bit Intel SoFIA 3G-R C3230RK quad core processor
- Mali 450 GPU
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
- 8mp autofocus rear-facing camera
- 2mp front camera
- GPS with A-GPS
- 3,450mAh battery
- Dual SIM
- Price: Php7,995