Slick, slim and comfortable in the hand, the phone is only let down by a slightly plasticky back cover
Resistive touch-screens never offer the same accessibility as capacitive and the size of the display doesn’t help here. The trackpad and keyboard are both good though
The near-latest version of Android is welcome, as is access to the many apps in the Android Market. But some just won’t work that well on the small screen
Although the processor is slow in comparison to most smartphones, lag was minimal
That smaller screen has the advantage of not draining the battery as much as a bigger one, so battery life is decent: it’ll easily last you a full day without you fretting
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 4:01:06 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Great keyboard, decent battery life
Small, resistive touch-screen leaves a lot to be desired
The Acer beTouch E210 is the company’s latest phone to feature both a touch-screen and a QWERTY keyboard. The BlackBerry Torch has both these features, but that’s a big, expensive handset while this is much smaller, lighter and cheaper.What’s more, it’s an Android phone, so there are over 300,000 apps you can quickly and easily download, where BlackBerry has far fewer, and generally pricier apps to choose from. This phone comes with Android 2.2 aka Froyo, which isn’t quite the latest but has most of the features you’d want. Android’s apps include a good push email function, though BlackBerry is still the email gold standard for speed, reliability and security.
When you wake the handset you have to swipe your finger across the screen to unlock it. Note that, as this is a resistive touch-screen, rather than the capacitive kind found on pricier smartphones, the display here is pressure-sensitive. It took me several tries to unlock the screen and was particularly tricky if using one hand to both hold the handset and swipe the screen.That’s the annoying thing about resistive touch-screens – that and the lower resolution usually found on such displays. Mind you, this one is reasonably responsive, when you get into the habit of pressing with a little more force than will seem natural if you’re more used to an iPhone. And at least you can poke at this screen with a stylus or use it through gloves if you want to. Like Acer’s earlier QWERTY phones, the beTouch E210 has a decent keyboard. There’s no space between them, which often signals disaster, but each is domed so it’s easy to hit the one you want. It’s still not as good as the best on the market (i.e. BlackBerry again) but highly usable.
The silver keys and base of the phone look snazzy enough, though they work better in bright light: the backlighting can make the keys hard to read. The same silver shade is used for the back cover, too, and here it looks less persuasive, a little plasticky, in fact. The best-looking part of the back is the camera lens and loudspeaker grille that sit at the top. The grille means there’s no place for a flash, which is a shame, and the 3.2-megapixel resolution isn’t going to make this a substitute camera for any but the most basic shots. There’s a highly usable trackpad underneath the screen – a step up from the trackball of earlier Acer QWERTY handsets. This is surrounded by four physical Android buttons (home, menu, back and search) and flanked by physical call, send and end buttons. All very good, except the problem with all this inputting action, from keys to trackpad to phone buttons, is that there’s precious little space left for a screen. As a result, the 2.6-inch display seems cramped – placing virtual Android buttons on-screen may have been better use of space if it afforded a bigger screen.
As it is, the display is too small to make gaming easy, and surfing the internet when you’re used to a smartphone screen that’s 3.5-inches or more gets old quickly. This may not be a fatal problem, but it does limit the phone’s usability. But the beTouch E210 includes 3G, which some of the more affordable BlackBerry handsets don’t, plus the usual smartphone features of GPS, compass and Wi-Fi. Though that small screen also means you won’t be using it as a replacement for your TomTom, either. When it comes to typing, the phone excels, with word prediction suggestions floating across the base of the screen. These work well enough, but when you tap a suggested word it would have been useful if the software knew to add a space too. As an affordable alternative to BlackBerry, the BeTouch E210 has a lot going for it.
Fancy a BlackBerry but want something more affordable, with more apps? The Acer beTouch E210 has a lot to recommend it, and is a good messaging device thanks to its accessible keyboard. But the small screen hobbles it when it comes to gaming, multimedia playback and luxurious web surfing. And the camera is decidedly average. While there’s 3G, Wi-Fi and GPS, you may find you tire of the tiddly display and unexceptional processor speed if you want much more than email and texting. So in that case, maybe a BlackBerry is still a better option.