We first heard of the Acer CloudMobile S500 a couple of weeks before the Mobile World Congress in February. Back then it was supposed to be a cream of the crop, flagship device with a dual-core Krait chip, 720p screen and the latest Android on board - the stuff superphones were made of. But as the months passed we saw One X, Galaxy S III and Optimus G. and the CloudMobile S500 gradually began to fade into irrelevance.
Then Acer released the CloudMobile S500 with a lower price tag and all of a sudden everything made sense - it was relevant again. It would be a challenge to find a cheaper phone with an HD screen and Krait-powered processor contract-free. The company seems to have cut the right corners and struck a great balance between affordability and solid smartphone experience.
The greatest part is that our initial very positive initial impressions of the Acer CloudMobile S500 stand after we are done with the review. The battery isn't as bad as it appeared, while the chipset is speedier than its similarly spec'd rivals. It's not perfect and aftermarket support is a big unknown, but the smartphone is a very solid offering for the here and now.
If you'd prefer a different approach, you might want to check out some of the alternatives, that currently are on the market.
The Motorola RAZR i is close in terms of price, has an equally big screen, but of inferior resolution. The RAZR i is way more compact, though, having the so called edge-to-edge display, offers superior build materials and better battery life. It's mostly a battle of the looks and endurance of the Moto versus the processing power and screen quality of the Acer CloudMobile.
The Galaxy Nexus is another smart buy, flaunting Android Jelly Bean and reasonably capable chipset. The Super AMOLED screen on its front is bigger than the one on the Acer but can't match it on brightness or pixel density. It also lacks proper expandable storage (read micro SD card slot).
Then we come to the HTC One S. It too is slightly more expensive than the Acer CloudMobile S500 , but has an 8 MP camera with HTC's ImageSense tech and a ceramic or anodized aluminum body to show for it. On the other hand the One lacks a microSD card or a 720p screen, so it's far less versatile than the CloudMobile.
Finally, if you are willing to dig a little deeper into your pockets the LG-made Google Nexus 4 will reward you with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (and speedy updates in the future), twice the Krait cores and a bigger HD display. The 16GB version of the Nexus 4 costs only a fraction more than the Acer CloudMobile S500, but as that one too lacks a memory expansion slot, you have to be sure that you can fit within that storage.
It seems that this Christmas is a great time to be in the market for a smartphone. After the Nexus 4 delivered stunning performance on a mid-range price, it's now turn for the Acer CloudMobile to bring joy to the lower market segment.
The Acer CloudMobile is a well-rounded package, which is hard to beat comprehensively. It delivers quite a lot for its price and if you are to get something extra by siding with one of its competitors, you'll almost certainly have to give up on something else in exchange.
The CloudMobile seems like Acer's greatest chance so far to make its presence on the smartphone market felt. The hardware is all there and if the company brings a Jelly Bean update quickly enough, this one might go on to achieve big things.
And even before that, the Acer CloudMobile is a great smartphones, the purchase of which you are unlikely to regret.