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On the smartphone front Acer used to be solely focused on making Windows Mobile powered handsets, but with the arrival of the Android touting beTouch E110 that all changed. Now the company has a twin-pronged strategy of releasing each of its phones with Android and Windows Mobile under slightly different product names. The neoTouch brand is now used for Windows Mobile products and the beTouch moniker is used on Android devices. In this regard, the E400 is the Android version of the P400 that we looked at back in May.
As you would expect, given this strategy, the design of the E400 is nearly identical to that of the P400. However, there are some subtle differences. For example, the touch buttons that sit beneath the touchscreen have different functions. The home button remains, but the other buttons are used as the search button, back button and menu key, rather than as call control keys as they are on the P400. Thankfully, Acer has kept the glowing circle around the home button, which lights up in different colours to indicate a new message has arrived, you’ve missed a call or the battery level is low.
There are some minor tweaks to the styling too. The P400 had a chrome band running around the outside of the phone, but on the E400 this is now gloss white. In addition, the handset comes with three swappable battery covers in white, black and 'wine'. Swappable covers usually signal questionable build quality, but that’s not the case here as they snap firmly into the place. In fact, the phone’s build quality is rather good especially given the competitive nature of Acer’s pricing. However, the overall design and feel doesn’t have the same air of class as some of HTC's mid-range models, which this phone is competing against.
Acer has only produced a single handset with a capacitive screen (the Liquid A1), and unfortunately it hasn’t added to that tally with the E400, as it uses a traditional resistive display. This means there’s no support for multi-touch even through the Android operating system now supports it. The 3.2in screen’s resolution of 320 x 480 pixels is fairly standard for a smartphone aimed at the middle of the market and although it’s a little bit on the small size, it’s still perfectly OK for viewing web pages or catching up on emails. It’s pretty responsive to touch input as well, although the small size does mean the keyboard feels a tad cramped when you’re using it in portrait mode.