Acer beTouch E110 review
The Acer beTouch E110 comes with an appealing price tag, but have too many compromises been made on this entry-level Android phone?
The very first thing to say about Acer’s beTouch E110 is that it is not a bells and whistles Android-based smartphone. It sits at the bottom of the pile, in specs terms, of the quartet of handset the company has recently launched, and it is designed unashamedly to be low cost.
It is pitched as having social networking and multimedia goodness, the mobile Internet, Acer widgets, 3G, GPS and a friendly user interface. There is a 3 megapixel camera. It is more a rival to feature phones not a rival to the very top end of the Android spectrum.
So, the beTouch E110 runs Android 1.5. There are no Google Mobile services – which rather sadly means no access to the Android Market. For all your wanting to produce a low cost handset, Acer, the Android Market is a real selling point for smartphones, and its omission is probably a mistake.
For example, the full version of Twitdroid is pre-installed which Tweeters may find a lure. But with no Android Market keeping it up to date is going to be difficult. You can manually install Android apps downloaded from websites, but that requires several extra steps that this phone’s target audience might not want to make.
There’s no Wi-Fi either, so you are reliant on your network for all over the air data services. The handset’s 3G support runs to 3.6Mbps downloads, 384Kbps uploads, and outside of 3G coverage areas you’ll find browsing slow going.
The E110 is a small format device. It measures just 103.5mm x 54mm x 13.4mm. It is a shame it just tips over the 100g mark at 105g. The screen is necessarily squeezed at 2.8-inches and its 320 x 240 pixels are way behind the leading edge. It is a bit on the tiny side for Web browsing, and we found text entry fiddly too. There is no accelerometer so you don’t even have the benefit of a wide-mode keyboard to tap at.
The touchscreen is supplemented by a row of four touch buttons sitting beneath it, for Home, Search, Back and Menu functions. These are quite small and we didn’t always hit them accurately.
Beneath these are large Call and End/On/Off buttons, and a big D-pad with left, right, up and down actions and a central select button. A 3.5mm headset connector is a welcome addition, and the microSD card slot is side-mounted for easy access.
Acer has given Android its very own user interface. In the face of very stiff competition from HTC’s superb Sense UI this is a brave move, but for the most part it works well.
There are five home screens between which you can flick with a finger sweep. You can populate these with widgets, including some from Acer that include Spinlets for music streaming and some rather nice carousels for accessing media and Web pages.
These latter don’t occupy a full screen but they don’t leave space for further widgets either. You can put app shortcuts on a screen with them, though.
There’s an arrow at the bottom of the screen which you pull up to get to the main app window. It is weird and not a little annoying that if app names are more than about seven characters long they cut off! There’s no pull down notifications area, something we really missed from our HTC Android handsets.
As well as the already mentioned Twitdroid app there is a Facebook client, FM radio and GPS Tracker application. You can use the beTouch E110 as a modem, though you will have to watch that data usage.
The Acer beTouch E110 is not the smartphone to choose if you want the very best of what Android has to offer. It can be a bit fiddly to use at times, and with its features stripped back the bare minimum it seems quite expensive. We aren’t sure we’d recommend it.
Value for Money: 6/10
Overall score: 5/10
Review written by Sandra Vogel. Originally published in Smartphone Essentials magazine.