The neoTouch S200 is the first phone we've seen in Acer's new line-up of handsets built on Windows Mobile 6.5, the latest version of Microsoft's mobile operating system. This phone, which is available for around £330 SIM-free, aims to impress with its speedy 1GHz Snapdragon processor and high-resolution screen.
Acer's previous smart phones weren't exactly the handsomest handsets on the block, so it's good to see that the company has paid more attention to design with the S200. It looks much more stylish than its predecessors, with strong, angular lines and sleek touch buttons lined up under the display.
The 97mm (3.8-inch) resistive touchscreen display is also much more impressive than the ones that have graced previous Acer handsets. Not only is it very large, but it's got a high resolution of 800x480 pixels, which means you do less scrolling around when viewing Web pages in the much improved Internet Explorer Web browser. Note that, unlike capacitive touchscreens, resistive touchscreens require some pressure to register your input.
The most impressive aspect of the S200 is its amazingly fast 1GHz Snapdragon processor, which really does make the handset feel lightning-fast. We've never seen a phone render Web pages as quickly as this one.
The S200's connectivity can't be faulted either. It's quad-band, so it'll happily work in most countries around the world, and there's both HSDPA and Wi-Fi support for fast data downloads. Bluetooth is also included, alongside GPS. The GPS is, however, noticeably slower to establish an initial lock on satellites than that of other recent smart phones we've tested.
Also, call quality isn't really one of this phone's strong points. Callers just don't sound as clear as they do with other smart phones we've used. This may be partly because the earpiece isn't all that loud. Although the handset has a speaker-phone mode, it's not much cop, as it tends to distort audio at higher volumes.
Peek through the Windows
Like the HTC Touch2, the S200 runs Windows Mobile 6.5. The changes Microsoft has made to the OS are much more apparent on the S200 than the Touch2, though, as they aren't hidden behind a custom user interface. Acer has tweaked the 'today' screen slightly to provide customisable shortcut icons to commonly used apps, but you can easily revert back to the standard Windows Mobile rolling display if you prefer. Thankfully, the new Windows Mobile interface is easier to use than that of Windows Mobile 6.1, but it's still not as straightforward as the Android or iPhone operating systems, as there are too many fiddly menus and settings screens to navigate when you scratch beneath the surface.
We also experienced some random lock-ups and odd behaviour from a number of the Acer-branded apps loaded on the phone. Acer is going to have to spend more time ironing out some bugs.
On the upside, though, we expected the fast processor to really hammer this phone's battery life, but we're happy to report that this isn't the case at all. In fact, we got around 2 days of use out of it on a single charge, which is pretty much par for the course with Windows Mobile handsets.
The Acer neoTouch S200 is far from perfect. Its build quality isn't great, its software needs more work and its call quality isn't quite as good as we'd have liked. Nevertheless, it's still worth considering, thanks to its lightning-fast processor and impressive, high-resolution screen.
Edited by Charles Kloet