BlackBerry may have made a name for itself producing business-focused handsets, but thanks to a flurry of cheaper models available on Pay As You Go, you're now almost as likely to see one in the hands of a teenager as you are in the hands of a business type. Acer has obviously picked up on this as its latest Android handset adopts a Blackberry-style design, while also keeping the price level down to a reasonably affordable £220 when bought SIM-free.
The E210 doesn't look all the much different to most of the other messaging phones on the market at the moment. It has a traditional layout with the landscape screen at the top and the keyboard at the bottom. In between these, there's the usual line-up of Android hardware buttons including the home and back keys arranged around the central navigation pad. Like most of RIM's latest models, the navigation pad isn't actually a physical button but instead turns out to be an optical joystick that enables you to move through menus simply by rolling your finger across it. It's not the easiest thing to get use to as it can be a bit skittish, but you'll get the hang of it eventually.
The phone's black and silver colour scheme looks quite business-like, but although the build quality is generally OK, it's nowhere near as solid as something like the Nokia E72. Another issue we have with the design is the location of the headphone jack. Acer has placed it awkwardly on the left-hand edge of the phone, so when the headset's plugged in it tends to snag as you take it in and out of your pocket.
Where the E210 really starts to fall apart is with its screen. In short, it's absolutely terrible. Even by budget standards its way below what we expect to see on a smartphone in this day and age. For starters, it's resistive rather than capacitive, so there's no support for multi-touch. We could just about live with this if the screen was actually responsive to finger presses, but it's not. In fact, a lot of the time you have to resort to tapping the screen with a fingernail to get it to respond. At 2.6in, the display is also very small and the blocky resolution of 320 x 240 pixels only makes matters worse. In fact, the phone's screen does a good job of squeezing most of the joy out of actually using Android and makes browsing the Web a frustrating experience.