Acer mixes the form factor of the BlackBerry with the power of an Android.
On the software side, the beTouch E130 comes with the very old 1.6 version of Android. Again, this is more of a low-end device and most budget Android devices come with that same version of the OS. Acer has customized the default Android interface slightly to accommodate a landscape orientation.
You have five home screen, the middle three of which are populated with shortcuts and widgets. The left most is set for your media and shows your pictures along with shortcuts to your videos and music files as well. The right most screen is left completely blank for the user to customize to their linking. You can, of course, customize any of the other four screen as well.
On the applications side, Acer adds ArabWare Agent that not only adds a much needed Arabic language support but also tons of mini applications such as the Hijri calendar, prayer times and the Holy Quran. Outside the ArabWare suite of applications, Acer adds Documents to Go for accessing and editing your documents, nemoplayer for watching multimedia content, Facebook Twidroyd for social media access and RoadSync for Microsoft Exchange connectivity. Even with all these applications installed, you still have 197MB of internal RAM left on the device.
Usability-wise, the beTouch E130 works alright. The keyboard is reasonably comfortable to type on and I definitely prefer using a hard keyboard over a touch screen version. The 416MHz CPU does feel a bit slow at times but that is something you should expect from a lower-end model. Coupled with the trackball, there are times when you just don’t know if its the CPU that’s holding back the device or the trackball not being very responsive.
However, the biggest complain I have with the E130 is the screen. First of all, its a bit small for a touch based device and then on top of that it’s resistive in nature and not the finger-friendly capacitive one found in higher end Android devices. This makes simple tasks like pulling down the notification bar a very hit-or-miss kind of affair. At times, I had to pull the bar four or five times to see what was on there. Also, navigating on screen buttons and menus becomes a bit tricky at times which is where the trackball helps but again, the general nature of the trackball’s sensitivity frustrates at times.
Camera on the E130 is nothing to get excited about either. The 3.2-megapixel sensor has a fixed focus and lacks flash. What this means is that you might get a decent picture in broad daylight but anything above and beyond that would be expecting too much.
Where the beTouch E130 shines is with its awesome battery life- the 1500mAh battery that Acer uses can keep the phone going for days. I was consistently getting over two days with my email pouring in the background as well as light calling and surfing the web.
Overall, what I think Acer needs to do is create a higher-end phone based on the E130. It has an excellent form factor and a pretty good keyboard but the screen needs to be a bit bigger with higher resolution and capacitive in nature. Along with that, Acer also needs to update the CPU, camera and the Android version. They have the basic building blocks with the E130- they just need to build something incredible upon that.