Think only Microsoft makes Windows phones? Well there’s a new player in town. The Acer M220 is a Windows Phone 8.1 device heading for a Windows 10 update. And it's very low-cost.

So if you need a cheapy phone but can’t stomach a true entry-level Android, the £70-odd (~RM440) Acer M220 could be right up your street.

Fabric covered

The Acer M220 doesn’t make any grand claims about its design, though. It’s a pretty non-showy plastic brick that comes in either black or white. We saw it with a back casing that incorporates a folio-style screen cover, but we’re not sure whether this version will actually come to the UK. Acer’s made it, but the networks and retailers may opt for the rather more ordinary standard edition.

See the texture of tiny raised pyramids around the Acer M220’s sides? That is going to be a key design motif for Acer’s cheaper phones, something we also saw in a few Android models. As is the fabric-style back, which is actually just an embossed plastic design.

Cleaning Windows

There’s the odd little design flourish, but the specs of the Acer M220 are fairly ordinary. It has a 4in screen of 800 x 480 pixel resolution, and while we weren’t expecting too much more at the price, the kind of display it uses it a little bit disappointing. It has a TN-style panel where, for example, the Moto E at the same price uses an IPS display.

As such, the Acer M220’s viewing angles aren't great.

The core hardware is fairly modest too. The Acer M220 uses a dual-core CPU with 512MB RAM. We didn’t notice any serious lag, but Nokia/Microsoft phones of the same sort of level tend to suffer from fairly slow app load speeds. It’s just something to bear in mind when considering a super-budget phone.

Easy on the specs

As with any Windows 8.1 phone, there’s not much sign in the software that this is an Acer device. This is no bad thing though: Windows for phones is dashing enough in its own right, and the M220 is guaranteed to get an upgrade to Windows 10 later this year. Microsoft has already confirmed that every single Windows Phone 8.1 mobile will get the nudge-up.

So, you’re probably wondering: so what? The Acer M220 is a pretty bog-standard budget phone in a lot of respects. However, that it exists is in itself interesting. This is the first time in ages that we’ve seen a Windows phone that wasn’t made by Microsoft or Nokia.

We asked the head of Acer UK why they’d decided to do it, and he told us it was just about time someone else put their hat in the ring. We’ve not seen any similar moves from Samsung, HTC and co yet, so it seems Acer has the jump on them this time.

Keeping things simple

It’s probably not going to appeal to those who want the latest and greatest tech, mind. The Acer M220 doesn’t have 4G, for example, and its 5MP (rear), 2MP (front) camera array is entirely standard stuff.

Is it a sign of things to come though? It seems entirely possible that some more manufacturers may jump on Windows Phone once again to coast on whatever buzz Windows 10 manages to create around its launch. And if they do, Acer can say it beat them to the punch.

Initial Verdict

The Acer Iconia M220 is not a dynamic phone other than by virtue of its existence. Acer is back in on the Windows Phone game, and with any luck it could well be the first of a few manufacturers to give Windows another go.

Keep an eye out for it if you’re after a low-cost phone and can’t stomach the idea of owning an Android. However, unless you’re a green guy hater, the Motorola Moto E may be a better choice if you can find it at a similar price.