Acer beTouch E130 review: Acer beTouch E130

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Qwerty keyboard;. broad connectivity;. sharp design.

The Bad Stranded on ancient Android 1.6;. low-res screen;. woeful camera.

The Bottom Line A novel take on the Android OS, the Acer beTouch E130 is a worthy BlackBerry or Nokia E-series alternative.

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The Acer beTouch E130 is that rare beast -- an Android phone with a BlackBerry-style Qwerty keyboard. Fortunately, this doesn't mark it out as a naff novelty, rather a unique take on what is fast becoming Planet Earth's favourite mobile OS. It's available for £192.04 without a SIM, but hasn't yet been tagged with a pay as you go or contract price here in the UK.

Qwerty cutie

Novelty it might be, but that doesn't mean you should treat the Acer beTouch E130 with the same disdain as you would dual-screen laptops or square clamshell cells . This is the kind of treatment Android has been crying out for, having found itself predominantly on touchscreen-only devices. The beTouch E130 has a touchscreen as well as a Qwerty keyboard, but we'll touch more on that later (see what we've done there).

Its combination of Qwerty keyboard and touchscreen functionality makes the E130 a temptingly tactile device.

The Qwerty keyboard is the central focus here and makes the beTouch E130 a dream to use when tapping out lengthy emails. Its bobbled, well-spaced buttons are straight from the Nokia E-series school of design, and that's no bad thing. They're softer than those found on equivalent BlackBerrys, too, which means your digits don't tire while firing off important missives to your minions (or just texting your Mum).

Behold the beTouchscreen

Slipping through menus is handled by the trackball, which recalls BlackBerrys of old. While RIM has since renounced the trackball for the optical trackpad, Acer's choice to use this ageing tech is questionable. It's definitely responsive, but its predilection for picking up dust and dirt means you won't want to use it too often to flick through emails and Facebook messages. Luckily, you can use the touchscreen to fulfil those functions, too.

The touch panel is pretty responsive and handy for tapping icons, although it's not as assured as the trackball when it comes to doing more fiddly work, such as scrolling through messages and diving deep into Android's menu systems. The touchscreen should be regarded as a secondary input method, rather than the main means of making your way around the phone. Viewed as such, it's a handy addition and puts the Acer beTouch E130 ahead of rivals such as the Nokia E5 and BlackBerry Curve 3G .

Dead as a donut

However, while Acer has found a way to battle with those at the top of the Qwerty pile, it's let the side down massively by sticking with Android 1.6, Donut. Frankly, it destroys the beTouch E130's claims to be a workaholic's dream machine. Without Android 2.0 or higher, there's no way of loading up multiple email accounts and no Exchange support, making this a much less practical blower than it should be. It also means killer features, like Google Goggles , are missing.

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Where to Buy

Acer beTouch E130

Part Number: CNETAcer beTouch E130

Typical Price: £192.00

See manufacturer website for availability.