- Incredible value for money
- Weak UI design
Another affordable offering from Acer has landed in our laps and this time it takes the form of the Acer CloudMobile S500. This handset initially arrived at Mobile World Congress 2012, so how does it fare one year on, now that it’s finally here?
Acer CloudMobile S500 review: Design
The CloudMobile is certainly in keeping with Acer’s most recent design language. A buttonless facia is capped by metal trim, whilst the majority of the bodywork is finished with a grey soft-touch coating that offers plenty of grip.
Overall, the curved aesthetic looks good but the blend of plastics and metals feels cheap and some elements like its sharp corners make it slightly less ergonomic than Asus would have you believe.
All the same it’s light and hardware controls like the powerlock key and volume rocker are all conveniently placed.
Acer CloudMobile S500 review: Screen
The bad? The anti-reflective coating on the Acer’s frontage gives the screen a slight green tinge, particularly against blacks. The good? For the price, we can’t think of a better display on the market.
The 4.3-inch IPS LCD panel on the phone’s front totes an incredible 720p HD resolution with excellent viewing angles a powerful backlight and great colour reproduction.
Bearing in mind this phone features a sub-£200 price tag, its screen would have you believe it’s worth far more.
Acer CloudMobile S500 review: Operating system
Despite its announcement over a year ago, and its arrival to market late last year, the Acer CloudMobile still comes running one of the latest versions of Android: version 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.
Acer has added a fairly heavy level of customisation to on top of the stock experience and aesthetically it’s not the most attractive UI out there, but there are elements we like, such as the versatile notifications panel.
What’s more although many of the Acer-made apps present will be unnecessary to some, bringing features out the box like a media server and Acer’s own cloud storage service was a smart move.
Acer CloudMobile S500 review: Camera and multimedia
Another key strength of the S500 is its 8-megapixel camera. Whether in natural light or low light, colour and contrast is well balanced. Artificial lighting does bring on some fairly strong noise but the overall composition of shots is still great. Macro was its weakest skill with an inability to focus as close to the lens as many other comparable Androids.
This balanced performance also extends to the Full HD video experience, which proves that you don’t have to pay top dollar for great mobile imaging. Having said that, audio is heavily compressed and low quality, which is disappointing.
Throughout the hardware and software of the S550 you’ll spot Dolby’s name all over the shop, but like the lacklustre audio of video recording, this doesn’t actually appear to add anything to the device that we haven’t seen from unbranded audio chops of rivals.
Media can be stored on either the 8GB of inbuilt memory or a microSD card up to 32GB, but what’s more impressive is the included media server app that lets you access music, videos and movies remotely.
Acer CloudMobile S500 review: Performance and battery
Underneath its plastic body, the S500 features a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and an Adreno 225 GPU. There’s a little less storage than we would have liked at 8GB, but under the phone’s removable back there’s room for the microSD card and a 1460mAh battery.
In practice the CloudMobile feels as snappy as any flagship phone. Navigation is smooth and solid throughout the UI and high quality 3D gaming such as Real Racing 3 was as equally as enjoyable.
Although at first we were wary, battery life quickly improved and you’ll be able to get over a day without much trouble once the battery has had a run in.
Acer CloudMobile S500 review: Conclusion
One of Acer’s most powerful mobile offerings to date also turns out to be one of the best examples of value for money we can think of right now.
With the latest version of Android, hardware comparable to many of 2012’s flagships and a price tag of just £169.99 from Expansys, the Acer CloudMobile S500 may have been late to the party, but it’s perfect for anyone now after a truly affordable, capable Android smartphone.