Product Acer Go
Specifications 4in 800x480 display at 233ppi, 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, Android 5.0 Lollipop, 5MP rear camera, 2MP front camera, microUSB and microSD ports, 3G connectivity, removable 1,300mAh battery, 125x64x9.6mm, 120g
Price £49.99 SIM-free
WITH THE disappointment of the Amazon Fire tablet still swirling around our brains, it's with some trepidation that we turn to the Three-exclusive Acer Go - another £50 device, this time offering a no-frills entry point into the Android smartphone market.
Still, the Go - previously known as the Acer Liquid Z220 - does seem to have a certain, straightforward charm about it, at least at first glance. Could it be a cheap and cheerful surprise? We've been using it to find out.
To Acer's credit, the Go has been imbued with a couple of interesting aesthetic touches, adding flair to what might otherwise be a dull all-plastic design. The backplate is decorated with a cross-hatch effect, which both looks nice and adds a slight matte feel, while a trim consisting of hundreds of tiny, silver-coloured pyramids runs around the edges. Since these are essentially tiny spikes, they do make the Go a little less comfortable to hold, but they do provide grip as well a unique look, which is rare at this price range.
That's not to say that the Go will win any beauty contests. The bezel is huge, especially around the top and bottom of the screen, and ultimately it is still constructed almost entirely of boring old plastic. As it measures 125x64x9.6mm, it's also quite thick in proportion to its length and width, though it is still arguably on the compact side. It's light as well, weighing 120g.
As for connectivity and features, the Go is surprisingly well-equipped; besides the standard microUSB port and full-size SIM slot, there's a microSD port and removable battery underneath the rear cover. It's always good to see budget handsets support expandable storage, particularly when Apple and Samsung continue to neglect it for their £500+ flagships. The downside in terms of connectivity is a lack of 4G support - 3G is the best it can do.
Build quality is adequate, in the sense that there are no big gaps and it doesn't explode into pieces when dropped. The backplate, however, is cause for concern; it's fine when attached, but when loose, its thinness and bendiness is hard to ignore.
If there's one thing that truly lets the Go down, it's the dark, dull, utterly miserable display. The low 800x480 resolution produces just 233ppi, which is only as high as that because of the small 4in screen space. This might have been a big enough display in 2013 but smartphones in general have moved on, and the Go feels cramped by contemporary standards.
Other than some deep blacks, colours also lack the boldness we so often see on mobile devices, including the cheap ones. What's worse, though, is the extremely narrow viewing angles; to avoid distorted colours or general darkening, we pretty much had to keep looking dead straight at the screen. A few degrees up, down, left or right would make apps more difficult to use and videos practically unwatchable.
The Go also suffers from the double threat of extreme reflectivity and an almost prodigious ability to pick up fingerprints. Clarity-wise, neither of these are counteracted much by the screen brightness, which stays relatively dim even on maximum.
Next: Operating system, software and performance