The Dell Streak started a trend.
It is very difficult to classify devices that boast of a screen size that may just breach the recommended size for a tablet and at the same time pass off as a smartphone. For better understanding let us just call these set if devices a mixed-breed in mobile technology.
The latest phones to join this league of smartphone-cum-tablet are the Samsung Galaxy Note (5.3-inches) and the Acer Iconia Smart (4.8-inches). Today, I review the Iconia Smart.
The smartphone has a great set of features on paper. What remains to be seen is whether this device is actually worth your hard-earned money.
Features and Specs
The Acer Iconia Smart has a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255-1 Snapdragon processor under the hood and runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) out of the box. The phone has a 4.8-inch screen with a resolution of 1024x480 (~246 ppi).
The phone has internal memory of 8GB and of you need more space you can increase the storage with the help of microSD memory cards (up to 32GB).
For your connectivity needs the phone has Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, UPnP, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot and 3G. The 8MP rear camera has auto-focus and LED flash and a 2MP secondary camera.
The phone supports MP3/WAV/WMA/eAAC+ audio formats and in addition it has Dolby Digital settings added for a better music experience. The phone also supports XviD/MP4/H.264/H.263 video formats.
Acer has bundled quite a few apps with the phone. The prominent apps Social Jogger (and app for your Facebook, Twitter and other social networking website needs) and also Aldiko book reader.
The length of the device also meant that the phone is not conducive for single-handed usage.
Design & Usability
Make a slight adjustment to the Duracell energizer campaign that had a tagline "Lasts long really long". Let the tagline now say “it’s long really long” (pun unintended) and there you have the perfect ad campaing for the Acer Iconia Smart.
The device is long and hefty at the same time, making it a pain to hold on to it for my dear life. And aggravating this problem is the slimy metal backplate and the curved back. Well if you must know the phone has dimensions of 141.7 x 64.5 x 13.6 mm and weighs 185 grams.
The right side of the phone houses the camera button and the volume rocker. The left has the HDMI out and microUSB slot. The power button and the 3.5mm jack are on top of the phone. The major hassle is with the SIM card slot and the memory card slot lying right underneath the battery. Also, I struggled for an hour before I could finally figure out how to open the compartment to remove the battery.
The Android 2.3 operating system running on the device has Acer’s customized UI 4.2. The experience on this device is indeed much better than the Acer Liquid Mini. Despite the cosmetic upheaval I prefer the virgin Android OS. The length of the device also meant that the phone is not conducive for single-handed usage.
I quite like the screen of the phone. The legibility under bright sunlight is also good. The battery life and the call quality are both good. No qualms in that department.
Browsing, Multimedia and Camera
The default Android browser does its job efficiently. Pages load very fast over Wi-Fi, 3G and even Edge. Owing to the length and the ultra-widescreen resolution of this device, I thoroughly enjoyed my daily dose of reading on the Iconia Smart. You can also install third-party browsers from the Android market for your phone.
The 8MP auto-focus camera with LED flash is indeed a very fast shooter. However, it is marred by some below-average image quality in captured images. You can take a look at the images below. The purple fringing is evident and chromatic aberration is not very difficult to spot. The camera also shoots 720p HD videos at 30fps albeit in 3gp format. The captured video has dull colours and the scenes look smudged. There is evident screen tearing as well. In conclusion, the camera is a big letdown.
The stock Android music player lets you listen to a variety of music formats. The additional feature on this phone is the Dolby Digital. I didn’t notice any difference in audio quality (it continued to be average) when the Dolby settings were applied. However, there was a marked difference when the phone was connected to a dedicated 5.1 audio system. The bundled earphones were surprisingly very good.
Click on images to enlarge
The phone played all the videos except 1080p out-of-the-box and apart from that the vertical black bars on either side of the videos owing to the skewed resolution of the phone is an eyesore.
The Quadrant Standard scores were very close (almost 98%) to the scores of HTC Sensation, which is very good. However, please note that these tests weren’t run at the original resolution of the screen. The app ran the graphic intensive tests at a resolution of 854x480.
The Acer Iconia Smart retails for Rs. 27,990. Despite, being a decent performer and a very stable device, the Acer Iconia Smart has some sturdy competitors in phones like the Samsung Galaxy SII and the HTC Sensation. However, if you want are persisting on a bigger screen, the Galaxy Note seems to be the best bet today.