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Acer beTouch E130 Review

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £192.04

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The E130 is a messaging phone that sports a full QWERTY keyboard and as a result looks very similar to many of BlackBerry’s handsets. Acer has tried its hand at messaging phones before with the P300 and M900, but those models were based on Microsoft’s unloved Windows Mobile operating system. This time around, it has decided to give Android a go instead, but are the results an improvement on its previous attempts?


There’s no doubting where the design inspiration for the E130 comes from. With the landscape screen at the top of the phone and QWERTY keyboard sitting beneath, the handset looks very much like a BlackBerry. The phone even uses a mini trackball similar to the one found on RIM’s older Pearl range before it switched to optical trackpads. It’s hardly surprising then that the E130 looks much more business-like than recent Acer models such as the Stream.


The chassis is almost completely finished in black save for a few chrome highlights here and there including the band that runs around the outside edge of the phone. Unlike some of Acer’s older models the E130 also feels very robust as the chassis doesn’t creek or flex when you apply pressure to it. Measuring 115 x 63 x 11.5mm, it’s relatively small and compact and it’s not too heavy either at 109g


Unfortunately, Acer has used version 1.6 of Android, which is far from cutting edge. However, at least the company has customised the OS a bit. For example, the usual pull-up tab that opens the main menu has been switched to a horizontal tab instead. But once you’ve pulled this open you can scroll up and down through your list of apps in the usual way.


Acer has also tweaked the standard V1.6 home screen, so that it provides you with five different panels where you can place your widgets. There’s even a small icon at the top of the screen that shows you which panel you’re currently on as you slide between them. You also get some of Acer’s own widgets including the rotating media menu that’s been seen on the company’s previous Android handsets.


As ever with Android, setting up email is pretty straightforward as the handset has an easy to follow wizard that guides you through the process of entering the details it needs in order to be able to send and receive email from your account. In fact, if you use Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo mail all you really need to do is enter your username and password and the handset does the rest.

Unfortunately, the E130 doesn’t feel particularly fast in use. This is perhaps not surprising as it uses an ST Ericsson processor that’s clocked at 416MHz, which is rather slow in comparison even to cheaper handsets such as the ZTE Racer, which is built around a faster 600MHz Qualcomm chip.


Another issue with the handset is its small 2.6in screen. Unlike the screens used on most BlackBerry devices, it is enabled for touch input, but unfortunately it’s a resistive rather than capacitive display so it doesn’t support multi-touch gestures like pinch to zoom. In addition, its small size combined with its limited resolution of 320 x 240 pixels means that the Android OS feels rather cramped and as a result, it ends up being a lot fiddlier to use. Browsing web pages is especially awkward, for example, as you have to do a huge amount of scrolling around due to the lack of screen real estate.


This is a shame, as the handset’s keyboard is excellent. It uses bubble style keys that protrude outwards towards you and create a reasonably large surface area to press on with your fingers or thumbs. The keys respond to being pressed with a satisfying click, so you get a decent amount of tactile feedback even when you’re tapping away at speed. The layout is good, too, with commonly used punctuation marks, such as the full stop and comma, positioned on dedicated keys.


The E130 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to connectivity either, especially considering its relatively low price tag. It supports HSDPA at speeds of up to 3.6Mbps, along with Wireless G Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. Naturally, there’s also GPS onboard, which you can use with the beta version of Google Navigation to get turn-by-turn navigation instructions.


On the storage front, Acer has provided 512MB of ROM onboard, but you can supplement this with inexpensive microSD cards thanks to the phone’s memory card slot. However, this is rather awkwardly placed under the battery cover, but at least you don’t actually have to take the battery out when you’re swapping cards.


The handset isn’t a bad performer when it comes to media. It has a standard headphone jack at the top, so although the supplied headphones are pretty poor you can easily swap them for your own cans. If you do, you’ll find that the E130’s audio is surprisingly punchy. Another bonus is that the handset has an FM tuner built-in so you can switch to radio when you’re bored of your own selection of tunes.

The E130’s camera isn’t much to get excited about though, as it has a pretty standard 3.2-megapixel resolution. Unfortunately, it lacks both a flash and auto-focus. Given the basic hardware, you wouldn’t expect it to be a stunning performer and it doesn’t defy expectations. It’s reasonably accurate when it comes to capturing colours, but it has a tendency to either overexpose or underexpose shots, leading to disappointing results. It’s also pretty hopeless when working indoors as shots come out looking extremely dark and grainy.


The phone’s battery life was disappointing too, as we only managed to get about a day and a half out of it before it needed a recharge. Most Android handsets manage to keep running for a bit longer than that – usually at least a couple of days. On the plus side, the call quality was good. The earpiece is loud and delivers crisp and clean audio, while the mic doesn’t seem to be overly directional like the one on the iPhone, for example.

Verdict


The E130 certainly has its moments. It feels robust, has an impressive keyboard and good call quality. However, it’s a tad sluggish to use and the small screen cramps Android’s style and makes it somewhat fiddly to use.







We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Trusted Score


Score in detail

  • Performance 6
  • Design 6
  • Value 7
  • Features 6

General

Operating System Android OS
Height (Millimeter) 115mm
Width (Millimeter) 62.5mm
Depth (Millimeter) 11.5mm
Weight (Gram) 109g
Available Colours Blue

Display

Screen Size (inches) (Inch) 2.6in
Screen Resolution 320x240
Touchscreen Yes

Battery

Talk Time (Minute) 360m
Standby Time (Hour) 600hr

Storage

Internal Storage (Gigabyte) 0.512GB
Camera (Megapixel) 3.15 Megapixel
Front Facing Camera (Megapixel) No Megapixel
Camera Flash No

Connectivity

Bluetooth Yes
WiFi Yes
3G/4G Yes
3.5mm Headphone Jack Yes
Charging/Computer Connection microUSB

Processor and Internal Specs

CPU 416MHz

Misc

App Store Android Market
GPS Yes

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