Along with market leaders there are plenty of smaller manufacturers who are keen to make a stand with some interesting devices. On the following pages you will find a summary of all those. We're starting off with Acer, newbies in the mobile phone industry, but a world leading manufacturer when it comes to mobile computers.
Acer is no small name, but their forte is computers. In mobile phone terms they are newbies with a relatively short (but still high-end) portfolio.
Today at the MWC 2010 they announced four new smartphones, along with an updated version of their Android-running Liquid. Check out the live photos that we snatched at their booth and stay tuned for our first impressions coming up.
Running on Window Mobile 6.5, Acer neoTouch P300 relies on a slide-out full QWERTY keybord to cover its texting needs. The phone is built around a 3.2" touchscreen display and runs on a 528 MHz Qualcomm CPU.
The Acer neoTouch P300 is actually pretty compact for a full QWERTY side-slider. Despite that the QWERTY keyboard allows for decent typing speed, with well used space and decent layout.
There isn't a wow factor or anything about the P300 design but it's not too bad either. It carries the air of a business tool, rather than a shiny gadget to boast about to your friends.
Its performance on the other hand is pretty solid. It's no Snapdragon inside and it shows but the occasional lagging is not really that bothering.
The second WinMo 6.5 device by Acer is the first member of a twin couple. Acer neoTouch P400 is a full touch handset with very little hardware controls whatsoever.
The four keys below the display are also touch-sensitive but need a slightly harder push than the display to register a click. We suppose they will fix that before it hits the shelves to equalize the effort needed and make up for a seamless transition.
We do like its design better than the one of its slightly lower-end WinMo cousin. The unit we tested didn't have much to do in terms of UI customization.
The slightly faster 600 MHz feels well on the HVGA screen opening most menus and applications in an instant.
The second twin is Acer beTouch E400 - a full-touch handset running on Android 2.1 and sporting a 3.2" HVGA screen. At first glance it's virtually indistinguishable from its WinMo brother, but a closer look reveals that the software keys are different.
This is of course done to suit the individual needs of the different platforms but the general hardware is perfectly identical.
The Acer beTouch E400 packs some of the Acer's home-brewed UI tweaks but not as many as the Liquid e. Its performance is pretty good although.
An interesting thing to note is that the beTouch E400 is among the few Android handsets that don't sport a capacitive screen. It suffers a bit in terms of responsiveness compared to the Liquid but it should compensate with better accuracy.
The other new member of the beTouch family - Acer beTouch E110 is an entry-level phone with a 2.8" display of QVGA resolution. Its capable battery will be greatly appreciated by users who believe that a mobile phone is good as long as it's capable of making that call.
You don't see resistive touchscreen Android handsets too often but this is the second for today. The Acer beTouch E110 is also among the very few Google OS powered devices to have this low screen resolution.
Truth be told, the Android OS doesn't look very attractive on QVGA, with the icons being both too big and coarse. It looks like the developers never though Android would run on devices like that and the platform was never optimized for low-res displays.
But the fact that the E110 isn't the most impressive device in terms of features doesn't mean we don't get Acer's point in releasing it. The company is obviously trying to achieve something big as a maker of phones and that usually means it has to look at the mass market too.
Now, they only need to find a way for their low-end devices not to look that cheap.
The third and last Android handset announced by Acer is simply an updated version of their popular Liquid phone. The Acer Liquid e runs on version 2.1 (Eclair) of the Google OS, but doesn't bring any hardware updates whatsoever.
Acer also added the new version of their home-baked user interface to the Liquid e. It sports more transition effects, some new buttons and looks generally better than on the original liquid and the Acer E400.
We can't help noting though, it would've made a lot more sense to release a simple firmware update rather than a new handset.