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Acer beTouch E400 review: Acer beTouch E400

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The Good Low price; good range of features; swappable battery covers.

The Bad Plasticky build quality; no multi-touch support.

The Bottom Line The Acer beTouch E400 is by no means a bad Android smart phone, but its touchscreen and build quality can't match those of rivals like the Samsung Galaxy Portal and HTC Wildfire

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7.5 Overall

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When it comes to smart phones, Acer seems to be dividing its efforts between Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Google's Android operating systems. In some instances, Acer is even creating two versions of the same handset, with each slightly tweaked for the particular operating system it's running. This is the case with the beTouch E400, which is basically the Android version of the neoTouch P400. Currently, the handset can be picked up for around £230 SIM-free.

Tweak my buttons

Acer has used the months between the launch of the P400 and the E400 to tweak the latter's design slightly. Perhaps the most noticeable difference is that the E400 comes with three swappable battery covers (black, white and burgundy) so you can change the look of the phone according to your mood. Acer has also removed the chrome trim that ran all the way around the edge and replaced it with a white band.

The company has tweaked the button layout to make it better suited to the Android 2.1 operating system. The touch-sensitive buttons below the screen are now used for the home, search, menu and back functions. Acer has retained the ring around the home button that glows in different colours to show you when you've missed a call, have a new message or the battery needs recharging.

Despite the phone's relatively weighty feel, it looks plasticky, and its build quality certainly isn't on a par with that of cheaper Android rivals, like the Samsung Galaxy Portal or Vodafone 845.

Iffy touchscreen

One of the problems with the P400 was its less-than-impressive touchscreen, and Acer hasn't addressed the issue with the E400. Like its sibling, the E400 uses an 81mm (3.2-inch) resistive display. Although the screen is quite responsive to touch input, it's nowhere near as speedy to use as the capacitive screens you'll find on the likes of the iPhone 4 and HTC Desire.

The swappable covers are a welcome return to days of yore

The resistive touchscreen also means the phone doesn't support multi-touch. This is a big loss when you're in the Web browser or Google Maps, as using the on-screen magnifying glass isn't as quick or intuitive as using the pinch-to-zoom multi-touch gesture. The display is, at least, very bright, and its resolution of 320x480 pixels is decent enough for viewing Web pages or watching YouTube videos.

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