The neoTouch P300 is a smartphone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system (OS). As such it’s going up against the likes of the Samsung Omnia Pro and HTC’s impressive Touch Pro2. However, it undercuts both those models in terms of price, so we were keen to see how well it performed.
The P300 feels a lot slimmer and lighter than the rather chunky Omnia Pro, and its design is quite appealing too - the metallic band that runs around the edge of the phone really complements the glossy black finish. Acer has sensibly added a standard headphone jack at the top, next to the mini-USB port and microSD card slot that are hidden behind a plastic flap. However, the overall build quality of the handset doesn’t feel anywhere near as good as that of HTC’s Touch Pro2.
For example, the battery cover is a tad plastiky and the sliding mechanism doesn’t feel as smooth as it does on either the Samsung or HTC models. In addition, the keys are covered in a glossy membrane that makes them feel quite sticky to use. There’s not much travel in each key and the layout is poor too. The keys are arranged over four rows so the number keys are shared with the top row of letters, but worse is the fact that common punctuation marks, such as full stops and commas, have to be accessed via the function key.
Like Acer’s P400, this handset runs Windows Phone 6.5.3, which is the latest official build of the operating system (although there have been leaks of a 6.5.5 version). The update is designed to make the OS more finger-friendly and as a result, one of the biggest changes is a new ribbon that sits at the bottom of the screen and is home to a number of touch controls. For example, the Start button has been shifted from the top of the screen to this new ribbon and there are also many context-sensitive buttons that appear here too. If you’re on the Today screen, for instance, a button appears on the ribbon to take you directly to your contacts and if you’re in an open application the exit button now sits on this ribbon too. It helps to make Windows Phone a little more user-friendly, but the OS still trails far behind the iPhone or Android operating systems in terms of overall user experience.
The 6.5.3 update also adds a few other features including support for threaded emails and the ability to drag and drop icons in the Start menu. The later is straightforward as you just tap and hold on the icon until it shifts upwards slightly to show you it’s ready to be repositioned. You then just drag it to the new location, let go and it falls neatly into place. Another welcome improvement is a significant speed up of page rendering in Internet Explorer. The handset also has limited Flash support. It works fine for simple animations, but although videos do play the frame rate is so low it’s virtually unwatchable and the handset also become very unresponsive. Acer has also added a couple of extra applications including a handy YouTube video player, as well as apps for Flickr, Facebook and Blogger.