Acer DX900 review
When Acer bought Taiwanese mobile manufacturer E-TEN in 2008 we expected great things. E-TEN’s Glofiish phones, though quirky, were among the more attractively-designed Windows Mobile handsets around. What we’ve ended up with, however, is the Windows Mobile-based Acer DX900.
Wow factor is not a phrase you’d comfortably associate with this phone; in fact it’s the very antithesis of that. It’s short, squat and dumpy, measuring a portly 17mm across its middle – so thick, in fact, that we spent the first 30 seconds looking for a non-existent sliding keyboard.
And its black and chrome looks don’t do it any favours either; place it in a line-up next to Nokia’s E71 and E75, the iPhone and HTC’s Touch HD, and it’s clear that, in terms of desirability, this phone falls short – a long way short.
It’s not just the size and the looks, though – the rest of the package fails to inspire confidence too.
The glossy buttons that surround the edges of the phone feel cheap and plasticky, the shiny chrome-effect navigation and call keys are fiddly and the battery cover comes loose too easily for our liking. Worse still, the 480 x 640 resistive touchscreen isn’t very responsive.
The DX900 is by no means completely undone by its lack of sharp-suitedness, though. It has one key strength that none of the phones we’ve mentioned so far can match; in fact, that no smartphone we’ve reviewed can. It takes two SIM cards. Crack open the rear of the case, lever out the battery and you’ll see a pair of slots – side by side – just beneath.
This means you can make and take calls on two numbers with the same handset – a boon for anyone who routinely carries two phones around – one for business and one for personal calls.
You can insert a 3.5G SIM card in the first one, which allows you to connect at speeds of up to 7.2Mbits/sec. With the second, the data speed is limited to GPRS rates.
But as with the appearance of the phone, the way the SIMs are handled isn’t exactly polished. Dial a number or send a text and you’re given a choice of which SIM to send it with. But the options given aren’t helpful – they’re labelled SIM1 or SIM2 – and they can’t be renamed so you’ll have to remember which card is in which slot.
If you want to use both SIMs for data it’s even more of a pain. You have to set up a separate modem connection for each one, then use Windows Mobile’s Connection Settings to switch between the two.
Battery life isn’t great either, and although the phone has a reasonably high-capacity 1,530mAh lithium-polymer cell, it ran dry just short of a full day’s use. A very disappointing result.
Another interesting feature that we haven’t seen before on a smartphone is the presence of Internet Explorer Mobile 6. This finally brings proper, full web page rendering to Windows Mobile and it’s pretty good at displaying pages in general.
We had no problems looking at the PC Pro website, the main BBC homepage and others – but zooming in and out is clunky and slow in comparison to Opera Mobile, which is included with most HTC Windows Mobile phones.
Elsewhere, you get the usual array of smartphone toys: Bluetooth, 802.11bg Wi-Fi, microSD memory card slot, GPS, an accelerometer that flips the screen from portrait to landscape automatically, and a three-megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash and video capture.