The X960 runs Windows Mobile 6.1, but like most of those manufacturers that use this operating system, Acer has decided to add its own touch-based interface over the top in an effort to hide some of WinMo’s more obvious deficiencies and help make the handset a bit more finger-friendly.
The interface is called Acer Shell and is presented as a virtual desktop that extends over multiple different screens. This virtual desktop has a number of items positioned around it that act as icons for calling up various applications. For example, tapping on an open envelop takes you to the email application, pressing the photo frame takes you to the picture viewer and selecting the calendar shows you your upcoming appointments.
One nice touch is that many of these icons are active. For example, the picture frame always shows the last picture you viewed and the rollerdex display the last contact you called. It has to be said, though, that for the most part the graphics look a bit dull and amateurish and certainly Acer Shell is a long way from the slickness of HTC’s TouchFlo interface. Plus, many of the icons aren’t good representations of the applications or functions they launch. Why would you associate a jar of pens with the settings menu, for example?
Windows Mobile devices rarely excel in terms of battery life and unfortunately the X960 is no different in this respect. Despite using a largish 1530mAh battery pack it only managed to keep running for a single day with medium usage for calls, web browsing and emailing. That’s a below par performance as in our experience most other Windows Mobile phones in this class managed to eek out a bit more from their battery packs.
All in all it’s hard not to feel that the X960 is a bit of a disappointment, especially after Acer managed to do such a good job with its sibling, the F900. The fact of the matter is that the X960 feels like a rather dated handset both in terms of design and the software shell Acer has loaded over the top of Windows Mobile 6.1. It’s rescued somewhat by its good connectivity, but overall we have to say that there are plenty of other Windows-based smartphones on the market at the moment that we’d buy before considering the X960.
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