After flirting with Android on phones such as the beTouch E110 and Liquid A1, Acer has returned to Microsoft’s bosom with the neoTouch P400 as the handset is built around the latest version of the Redmond’s Windows Phone operating system.
It’s not difficult to see where the inspiration for the design of the P400 has come from, as at first glance the handset bears a striking resemblance to the iPhone. It has the same glossy black finish on the front, circled by a chrome band running around the edge of the handset. There's even a narrow grill at the top covering the earpiece, which is virtually identical to that found on Apple’s mobile phone.
Naturally, there are differences though. The battery cover on the P400 is rubberised to make it a bit grippier and it’s easily removed to reveal the swappable 1090mAh battery and microSD card slot. The placement of the card slot here isn’t ideal, but at least you can swap cards without actually removing the battery.
The screen on the P400 doesn’t extend all the way to the touch buttons at the bottom, but instead stops short of the Acer logo. This makes the handset look a little unbalanced to our eyes, but at least the touch buttons are very responsive. We also like the way the home button lights up with different colours to indicate missed calls, incoming text messages and low battery level.
The handset runs Windows Phone 6.5.3, a newer build of the Window Mobile operating system that adds a few fresh features. The most noticeable of these is a new ribbon at the bottom of the screen for housing a number of touch buttons. You’ll now find the Start button here alongside a number of context-sensitive controls. For example, on the Today screen there’s now a button on this bar to jump directly to your contacts; in the Start screen there’s a new lock button; and when an application is running, the Close button now appears on the right-hand side of this ribbon. Other new features include the ability to drag and drop icons in the start menu and support for threaded email.
This new version of the OS also brings with it some updates to the native Windows Phone applications. For example, Microsoft has done work on Windows Explorer 6 to improve memory management and speed up page loading times. The changes are actually quite noticeable when you’re using the browser, as it now feels faster and smoother than before.