Android has never merely been a pricey plaything found in only the very best handsets. Budget phones using Google’s OS are plentiful, from the ace HTC Tattoo to the neat T-Mobile Pulse, and most utilise the breezy functionality to good effect.

And it’s in this segment where the Acer beTouch E110 wants to do battle.Unlike the Liquid e, Acer wants this touchscreen number to become a byword for basic but brilliant, much like its Aspire One netbooks have become in the world of computing. But being cheap does throw up some rather niggling issues, which you’ll need to square with before stumping up.

Ageing Android

The Acer beTouch E110’s biggest failing is that it doesn’t sit at the cutting edge of what Android can offer. Stranded on the year old Android 1.5, it fails to offer killer extras like Google Goggles, multiple email account support and boosted camcorder skills.

Its rival, the T-Mobile Pulse Mini, already comes with Android 2.1 and all the aforementioned features. Worst of all, Android Market is absent. That’s not to say this affects Android’s ability to work well. Menu access is zippy enough, although we did detect some distinct lag when tapping the somewhat infuriating touch-sensitive menu key.

Being vanilla Android, there’s no skin here to aggregate your social networks and RSS, although this gives the beTouch E110 a clean feel that’s lacking on its other small-time competitor, the HTC Tattoo.

Touch too much?

The beTouch E110’s touchscreen is resistive, but surprisingly lovable. The usual resistive failings (prodding your index finger so hard on the panel it feels like it might pop out the back) are kept to a minimum. In fact, the only major issue we encountered was calibrating the darn thing on set up.

Get past the five minutes of tapping the screen to make sure all is tickety boo and you’ll soon find it works every bit as well, if not better, than similar resistive efforts. The onscreen keyboard does take some getting used to, mind. You’ll need to be patient when learning this machine’s foibles, with the accuracy of the Android QWERTY hampered by the lack of an update. The keyboard on Android 2.1 remains the most accurate virtual effort going and it could be used to great effect here.

Review continues after the break…

Winning features

The lack of Wi-Fi does mean the Acer beTouch E110 isn’t up to snuff with the best smarties out there, but being a budget offering, we’re willing to forgive this thanks to HSDPA, fast becoming standard issue on even the most basic blowers.

The camera, too, is something of a revelation. 3.2MP may not get megapixel collectors salivating, but in good light, it takes clean and crisp shots which will look more than tidy when they appear on your Facebook feed. The only problem is the lack of Flash, with low-light performance not measuring up.

There’s no doubting the Acer beTouch E110’s appeal. It’s cheap, if a tad ugly, and comes with the kind of basic skills that anyone after their first taste of Android could want. But being stuck with Android 1.5 is a real niggle and one we found hard to get past, especially knowing many of its rivals, such as the HTC Wildfire, have already made the jump to 2.1.

Stuff says... 

Acer be Touch E110 review

A worthy budget Android phone, but one that could benefit from losing a few pounds and updating to the latest flavour of Android

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