Smart phones are no longer the preserve of the well-to-do. There are plenty of touchscreen phones around that offer many of the features you'd find on the iPhone 3GS or , for a fraction of the cost. Among them is the Acer beTouch E110, which runs 1.5. It can be yours for free on a £10-per-month, 24-month contract, or about £150 SIM-free.
The E110 sports a 71mm (2.8-inch), QVGA touchscreen. Unfortunately, it's quite disappointing. As it's of the resistive variety, you'll have to apply some pressure to the screen in order for it to register your input, and there's no multi-touch support. As resistive screens go, this one is pretty sensitive, but, if you're expecting the smooth, effortless, gliding experience afforded by a capacitive touchscreen, you might want to look elsewhere. The display is colourful, but the screen resolution is also very low, so everything looks rather blurry, and viewing photos won't be a very enjoyable experience.
The E110 runs Android 1.5. Criminally, there's no access to the Android Market, so adding new apps to the E110 is out of the question. Seeing as access to the Android app store is one of the best things about the operating system, this is a real kick in the groin.
Acer has pre-loaded a few apps onto the E110. There's a Facebook app and Twidroid for handling your Twitter account over a 3G network, both of which do a passable job of keeping you in the loop. The E110 features GPS, if should you feel like tracking your progress on a long journey, and a Web browser that will suffice for a quick Google session, but really nothing more. There's no Wi-Fi connectivity, so your Net-based activities will be limited to areas where you can get a strong signal, and won't be as speedy as a standard broadband connection.
The menu interface itself isn't too bad. There are five screens of widgets that you can scroll through using the touchscreen. The main menu is accessed by dragging an arrow icon up from the bottom of the screen.
One gripe is that the call-end button locks the phone when you use it for any purpose other than hanging up. On most other phones, the call-end button will take you back to the home screen, so this is something that could take some getting used to and will almost certainly prove annoying.
More frustrating than this, however, is the tiny on-screen keypad used for inputting text. The keypad is really very small, and hitting the right part of screen is a trying process. There's no spell-check feature either, which only adds to the tribulations you'll endure. Unlike other Android handsets, there's no full Qwerty keyboard, or option to type in landscape mode.