At first glance the Acer P400 looks the business, with a rubber back and tempered glass front. But on closer inspection you'll find it is made of lightweight, almost cheap-looking parts
Despite a slick looking home screen, the rest of the UI is quite dated. The message interface is clunky and unintuitive, while the resistive touch-screen is slow to respond
The Acer neoTouch P400 has a mediocre feature set, with a token 3.2 megapixel camera with no auto-focus or flash and a slow and unresponsive keyboard
Acer has done little to improve an outdated OS, and the P400 is neither fun nor easy to use
The P400 will provide around 300 minutes of talktime before you are reaching for the charger
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:58:58 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
The P400 is a good looking phone that provides a decent web browsing experience
Made of lightweight, cheap-looking parts, with a mediocre feature set and a sluggish OS
Acer does not have a good track record with Windows Mobile phones, and the neoTouch P400 does nothing to challenge this. A good looking phone, it has a mediocre feature set and a sluggish touch-screen that makes it even less fun to use.
The P400 looks the business, with a rubber back, tempered glass front, and four touch-sensitive areas for home, call, call end, and the Windows start button. As soon as we removed the back cover however, it all started to literally fall to pieces, as we were unable to fully clip the cover back on, leaving an unsightly seam down the side. There’s a token 3.2 megapixel camera with no auto-focus or flash, and snaps turn out slightly pixelated even in daylight. Colours look washed out, and forget about night shots. The P400 runs on Windows Mobile 6.5.3, but its home screen looks more like Windows Phone 7 will – instead of icons for apps, you’ll see a list of the words instead, in a modern lowercase font. It’s the best looking part of the UI. Missed events display as a small number next to the appropriate app, like a text or email. Hit the Windows logo to be taken to the all programs menu, arranged in seemingly no order, so just scroll till you find the one you need. The resistive (pressure sensitive) touch-screen is reasonably responsive to scroll, while the unlock screen shows notifications of events, letting you swipe (well, more like drag) your finger and head straight to the event.
Despite a slick looking home screen, the rest of the UI is quite dated. The message interface is clunky and unintuitive – rather than simply hitting a text field to call up the virtual keyboard, you have to tap a grid-like icon at the base of the screen. To start a new message, instead of a simple icon, you hit the (equally unfathomable) menu icon, choose ‘new’, then pick from MMS, voice, or text – and text isn’t even the default option. The keyboard is slow and unresponsive, making it impossible to type at speed. It’s not very accurate, though using it in landscape orientation helps, thanks to the extra space. You can set up email accounts on Microsoft Exchange or webmail, but the P400 doesn’t support push notifications – the best it can do is an automatic send/receive every five minutes. If you use Exchange, your calendar will also be synced. Interestingly, Acer has preloaded Acer Sync, which syncs details with Google services – a tiny feint at hooking some Android users? - so you can migrate your Google Calendar.
Windows Mobile phones have one saving grace – a full line-up of work-friendly apps. The calendar lets you view appointments by day, week, month or year, while the Microsoft suite of office apps, including Word and Excel, lets you create and edit documents on the go – if you can successfully operate the touch-screen. This is one phone that could do with a stylus, but there isn’t one. With HSDPA support and the newish Internet Explorer Mobile 6, the P400 is decent for web browsing. Zooming is done via an on-screen touch-bar, while the address bar will automatically fill in ‘www’ and ‘.com’, and autocomplete addresses of favourite or already visited sites. You can also copy and paste - though not as slickly as on, say, the HTC Desire – hit menu for the option, then drag a finger over the text you want. The sluggishness of the touch-screen is the real limiting factor. The P400 can access Windows Marketplace and though Microsoft’s app store is nowhere near as bustling as the Android Market or of course Apple’s, most popular apps – Facebook, etc – can be found here.
It’s hard to see who the Acer P400 is aimed at. It’s made of lightweight, almost cheap-looking parts, but it runs on the business centric Windows Mobile 6.5.3. It could be a good internet phone but most other features suffer thanks to a sluggish, inaccurate touch-screen. Acer has done little to improve an outdated OS, and the P400 is neither fun nor easy to use.