It's been some time since we've talked about Acer in the context of Windows Phone. But, it's back in the game with the Liquid M220, the company's first Windows Phone 8.1 device just announced at Mobile World Congress. It's a budget phone, costing just 79 Euros when it goes on sale in April in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. It'll be competing directly with the likes of the Microsoft Lumia 435 in the market, and while it's low budget when it comes to the hardware, it does have some charm.
To recap on the hardware specs:
- 4-inch, 480x800 resolution display
- 1.2Ghz dual-core CPU
- 5MP rear camera with auto focus and flash
- 2MP front facing camera
- 4GB on board storage with microSD card expansion
- 512MB RAM
- 1300mAh battery
- Dual SIM options
The display is comparible to that on the Lumia 530. The resolution isn't so much the issue, but viewing angles are pretty bad and it's quite reflective to look at. The onscreen buttons can go away with a swipe up, at least, and yes, there are some pretty enormous bezels. But there's a lot we like about it, too.
The physical size of the phone is great, it feels really good in the hand and the pattern on the back is superb. It's apparently inspired by Thai Silk, and adds a slight amount of grip to the rear of the phone but on the black version especially, it looks really nice. The 5MP camera on the M220 comes with an LED flash, something we're pleased to see added to a low-cost Windows Phone, and the front camera is a respectable 2MP. They seem good enough on a phone of this price point, though you have to keep your expectations in check, naturally.
On the internals the biggest let down is the 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. It's not a total killer, but with Microsoft upping its own base level to 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage it's natural that we'd hope for a little more. But the phone is snappy enough as is usually the case with Windows Phone devices regardless of specs. It's bare basic Windows Phone 8.1, too, with no sign of any bundled apps from Acer or anyone else for that matter. That could change with retail units, but for now it's just basic Windows Phone.
The bigger story isn't about the hardware, though. Acer has already committed to updating the M220 to Windows 10, and reading between the lines that signals at least some statement of intent. What's potentially more interesting is where Acer goes from here. It's dipping its toe with the M220, and while there are compromises to be made on the hardware, we're glad to see another name making new Windows Phones.