Does the low cost mean you're also sacrificing value?
DESIGN & HANDLING
With its sober, almost austere design, the CloudMobile looks like it was made for the business world. The majority of the body is plastic and the honeycomb grooves make the soft-touch back feel good to the touch. Add to that the slight curves, and you have a smartphone that sits well in the hand. The finishing is as high-quality as they come, and there are no obvious signs of fragility.
Question: did they have to put the logo on the back and the front?
There are no physical navigation buttons or touch buttons under the screen (menu, home, etc.). All commands go through the user interface.
We wish there were an LED to notify you discreetly when you've received a text, e-mail, and so on. We do, however, very much appreciate the microSD slot, which allows you to expand the memory up to 32 GB. And since the battery is removable (incredibly rare these days!), it's easy to change if ever you need/want to buy a new one.
The CloudMobile's display is on par with the highest-ranking smartphones on the market. It has a 4.3" HD IPS display with 1280 x 720 resolution. With a pixel density of 342 dpi, individual pixels are invisible to the naked eye, making the image detailed and precise. It gives excellent contrast (1000:1), outstanding colour accuracy (Delta E = 2.8) and brightness in the upper average (320 cd/m²). In fact, the colours are more accurate than all the most recent high-end smartphones we've reviewed. It has fairly wide viewing angles, too.
Whether you're watching a movie, looking at photos or surfing the net, everything displays magnificently. The only potential downside is that, unlike many other mobiles, the screen doesn't have any scratch-resistant treatment, so it's difficult to say how much bashing the display can take.
INTERFACE & NAVIGATION
On top of Ice Cream Sandwich Acer added its own software overlay, Acer UI, a minimal addition to the basic Droid interface—Android purists will love it. Acer UI may be scaled down compared to many of its overlay competitors, but it has some highly practical features, such as a lock screen with four shortcuts assignable to apps of your choosing (phone, messages, e-mail, camera, etc.).
The CloudMobile has a Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz and 1 GB of RAM. This gives the phone a comfortable level of responsiveness, even when multiple apps are running simultaneously, but we did note a certain latency when scrolling up and down web pages and zooming. It's worth noting that the Acer CloudMobile does lack a (very) slight amount of fluidity.
But it's highly responsive when opening/closing and downloading apps. Android and the Snapdragon S4 make for a good duo. And video games run perfectly, despite relatively low benchmark results from the graphics chip.
The Acer CloudMobile has an 8-Megapixel BSI camera sensor that both focuses and shoots quickly. The image rendering is more than satisfactory. Pictures come out sharp with lots of precision and detail and little noise, which is quite an achievement for a phone this price. However, the white balance is nothing to write home about.
In low lighting the overall image degrades considerably, with a great deal of noise.
Like the competition, Acer offers tons of Lomo-style filters and effects such as watercolour, sepia, etc. It can take 16:9 photos and has an HDR mode and burst mode.
The CloudMobile films in up to 1080p with pretty good rendering for a smartphone. The image is pretty sharp, the colours are accurate and HD movies run smoothly. But the biggest thing that needs perfecting with the video camera function is the sound recording.
The MHL-compatible microUSB port allows you to send the image to a TV to view pictures and movies stored on your phone. The video player supports DivX/Xvid, but as always with Android we recommend downloading a more extensive third-party player, such as MX Player, on Google Play.
The headphone output isn't bad at all. The only problem might be the volume, which is a bit light. But it's far from catastrophic, especially since the dynamics are good and the distortion is nonexistent. The built-in speaker does its job. It's nothing exceptional quality-wise, but the volume is higher than most smartphone speakers.
Here's where things get bad. The Acer CloudMobile's battery is only 1,460 mAh(!). That's low compared to most similar smartphones nowadays that have at least a 1,750 mAh battery. It's a surprising choice, given the rest of the specs.
For raw battery performance we use Battery Benchmark, an app that runs Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Internet, multimedia and varying levels of screen brightness to create a balanced stress test that tends to correspond to what we observe in our practical tests. Both in use and in terms of raw results, when compared to the other mobiles we've reviewed in recent months the CloudMobile clearly falls in the 'low-battery life' category. With less than a day's worth of fairly intensive use, it gets two out of five stars. The Sony Xperia T, by contrast, gets 7 hours and the Google Nexus 4, 10 hours.