Acer really got my attention with the Acer Liquid M220. It didn’t have anything to do with mind-blowing hardware specs though. It was the price point. This Windows 8.1 smartphone hits the market at just $80 unlocked. In fact, the Acer Store has it marked down to $49.99, but I’m not sure for how long. It’s compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
Before taking a closer look at the specifications and features, it seems prudent to set the expectation of what the Acer Liquid M220 is – and isn’t. It’s an entry level smartphone that’s actually quite capable for a variety of functions. Its got basic phone capabilities like you’d expect. It’s also more than capable of running social media apps, email, text messaging, and calendar functions among others. Think of it as a PDA with cellular functions and a built in humanesque personal assistant. What the Acer Liquid M220 isn’t designed to be is a smartphone that is going to run a lot of video and gaming functions. Let’s look more closely at the specifics.
Acer Liquid M220 Phone Design
Acer’s entry level smartphone is a slim, lightweight design. The back plastic cover has a texture reminiscent of a thin carbon fiber weave. This works with the textured sides to create a more secure grip. The only buttons are power/wake up and volume adjustments on the right side of the unit. Everything else is controlled through the Windows 8.1 interface. The Micro USB and 3.5 mm input jack are found uncovered on the top.
Rounded corners offer a little more protection against minor drops and strikes than hard corners. Overall, the design is very sleek and simple. You’ll likely still want some sort of screen protection, but this phone seems more durable than the more fragile screen-centric phones on the market today.
Acer Liquid M220 Operating System
The Acer Liquid M220 currently runs Windows 8.1, but will support a coming Windows 10 upgrade near the end of the year. Admittedly, I’ve avoided Windows phones in the past. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the Windows Phone experience. Navigating the home screen is easy and snappy. Applications that aren’t on the home screen are found with a swipe to the right hand screen where they are listed alphabetically.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Cortana. For the uninitiated, Cortana is Windows’ personal assistant solution. It (or she, if you prefer) doesn’t have quite the sense of humor that Siri does when asking silly questions. She will tell you a joke, update you on the weather, set reminders and calendar updates, or kick you into a Bing search for anything she can’t rationalize on her own. You also can’t immediately get into searches with a voice command like Google Now or the desktop version of the service. Voice initiation is a function of the Windows 10 operating system on PC, so perhaps we’ll see it in the smartphone update…we hope so.
Acer Liquid M220 Screen
The screen is a weak spot for the Acer Liquid M220. The 4-inch, 480 x 800 pixel screen lacks the resolution needed to really enjoy video playback to its fullest. It also suffers from significant pixel blur, making gaming a non-reality. It’s fine for viewing still pictures and Internet browsing, though. And given the processor and specs for this phone, that should be the goal of the design. As you can see in the picture below, off angle viewing is tough as is trying to navigate in sunlight.
Touch screen functions are reasonably accurate so far. Typing is accomplished by either letter by letter typing or swipe methods. I occasionally have to to tap twice, but the majority of the time I had no issues with typing or navigation.
Acer Liquid M220 Front and Rear Cameras
The Acer Liquid M220 Windows phone has both front facing and back panel cameras. The 5 megapixel main camera isn’t going to win any photography contests, but it’s certainly good enough to snap pictures to update social media. It also includes tap to focus technology. The front facing camera is 2 megapixels. It’ll work for Skype calls and selfies. Selfies may be lacking in quality though—particularly when there isn’t a lot of light. Shooting video is possible, but again, this isn’t the Acer 220’s strength.
Acer Liquid M220 Hardware
For a basic smartphone, the Acer Liquid M220 really isn’t bad—particularly given the low cost of entry. It was only a couple of years ago that smartphones with these specs would have cost several hundred dollars. A 1.2 gigahertz dual core processor is supported by 1 gigabyte of RAM and 8 gigabytes of internal memory storage. While that’s not much internal storage, the 220 can also support up to an additional 32 gigabytes on a micro SD card.
The Acer Liquid M220 is a great starter phone before moving into midrange devices like the Acer Jade Z (check back for our review). At the current price of just under $50, it’s a great buy as a backup phone, even if you don’t need one at the moment. While it lacks today’s top end horsepower, it is more than capable of keeping up with basic functions.
The biggest limitation may be that the Acer Liquid M220 is a Windows phone. That makes it severely limited on the apps you’ll be able to load. This can go both ways, though. Connecting through your Microsoft account to streamline your smartphone and computer is the kind of system functionality praised by Apple iPhone users. Cortana has some growing up to do before it catches up to Siri, but it’s a big boost for the OS. The fact that I’m not distracted by the latest time-zapping game yet connected to my accounts for productivity is a feature I’ve come to appreciate.
- Operating System: Windows 8.1
- Cellular Connectivity: HSPA, GPRS, HSDPA, HSUPA, EDGE
- Compatible Networks: AT&T, T-Mobile
- Processor: 1.2 GHz Dual Core
- RAM: 1 GB
- Internal Memory Storage: 8 GB
- Micro SD Card Capacity: 32 GB
- Screen: 4”, 480 x 800 pixels
- Cameras: 5 MP main, 2 MP front facing
- Battery Runtime: 3 hours talk, 200 hours standby
- Warranty: 1 year