Summary

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Key Features: 4.8in 1024x480 pixel screen; 21:9 aspect ratio; Capacitive touchscreen; microHDMI video output; Android 2.2 OS

Manufacturer: Acer

Acer’s no stranger to Android devices, but most of its phones and tablets have been fairly conservative. The oddball of its range is the Iconia Smart. Boasting a 21:9 cinema screen ratio and bonkers 1024x480 screen resolution, it’s not quite your average Android smartphone. But is it any good? We had a go at IFA 2011 in Berlin to find out.

The Iconia Smart is an unlikely device. It’s made by Acer, for one, which has a reputation for sensible pricing and functionality more than outré designs. Some of its Androids have pushed the boat out a bit, with metal bodies, but none quite as much as the Iconia Smart.

It has a metal backplate, a lovely capacitive touchscreen and the rounded Iconia design we’ve come to know and occasionally enjoy. But the true stand-out of this device is its bizarre 4.8in screen. In a normal-aspect smartphone this would be huge, but in the Iconia Smart – thanks to its 21:9 aspect ratio – it just seems very, very… long.

With 480 pixels of screen width, it’s essentially an elongated version of the screens we’ve seen in premium 800x480 pixel phones like the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S. It poses a unique problem – how to you make such an unusual screen resolution work on Android?

Acer tackles this problem by adding an extra row of app shortcuts to each homescreen, not unlike the pop-up multitasking menu seen in Apple’s iOS software.  Having only spent a short while with the device, we can’t say what it’d be like to live with, but to us it seems like a decent easy fix.

We did try to get Gameloft’s N.O.V.A. and Spider-Man running on the phone to see how its screen deals with standard games, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the game assets to download using the built-in Wi-Fi. Android apps are designed to scale fairly freely between screen resolutions, though, so while the Iconia Smart may leave some looking a bit odd and stretched, we imagine the vast majority will work just fine.

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