Acer Liquid M220 Review: The $80 Smartphone

by Reads (972)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Service, Warranty & Support
    • 7
    • Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Design
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Value
    • 10
    • Total Score:
    • 7.60
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Highly affordable
    • Great battery life
    • Small footprint
  • Cons

    • 3G only
    • Poor display
    • Mediocre (though not as bad as you’d think!) performance/specs

Quick Take

As long as you never lose sight of what the Acer Liquid M220 is supposed to be, an affordable, entry-level smartphone, you’ll likely be satisfied with the $80 Windows Phone device.

At a certain point, a deal is so good that certain sacrifices become acceptable, right?

Acer Liquid M220, an $80 smartphone

Acer Liquid M220, an $80 smartphone

That would at least appear to be Acer’s philosophy with its first US smartphone offering, the Windows Phone-powered Liquid M220. For a mere $80 off contract, users can get their hands on a full-fledged smartphone, albeit an entry level one. Emerging markets are undoubtedly at least part of the target audience here, but that’s still a solid deal no matter how you slice it.

It’s important to remember that you get what you pay for — at $80, this simply isn’t a top-notch, high-end device, nor was there any way Acer could have made it one.  But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some decent bang for your buck to be found here.

Build & Design

The build of the Liquid M220 is simple, but it also has a certain understated appeal to it. Sharp-angled edges and rounded corners make for a straightforward slab of a phone that, while unadventurous, is comfortable in its familiarity. It’s also very low-profile, weighing in at 4.2 ounces (119 grams) and sporting a nice, small footprint that measures only 4.92 x 2.52 x 0.38 inches.

Acer Liquid M220 back panel

Acer Liquid M220 back panel

That said, it feels like Acer made the bezel unnecessarily large, especially below the display, given that Windows Phones no longer place capacitive navigation buttons on the hardware itself, instead opting to display them on screen. It’s not a huge deal; it just seems like wasted space.

Though the removable backing is cheap, flimsy plastic that has only the slightest of textures to it, a ridged band snakes its way around the edges of the phone, thankfully lending the user something to grip. Underneath the back plate lies access to the unit’s removable battery, microSD card slot, and two SIM card slots. The two SIM card slots are different sizes, with one for a regular-sized SIM and one for a microSIM.

The arrangement and selection of the phone’s buttons and ports is standard, with the 3.5mm headphone jack and microUSB charging port located on the top edge, and the volume rocker and power button located on the right. The left and bottom edges are devoid of any features, while the Liquid M220’s 5-megapixel rear-facing camera is centered towards the top of the phone’s back, and the 2-megapixel front-facing shooter is located in the upper right corner above the display.

Acer Liquid M220 microUSB input

Acer Liquid M220 microUSB input

Acer Liquid M220 mic

Acer Liquid M220 mic

Acer Liquid M220 side

Acer Liquid M220 side

Acer Liquid M220 volume rocker

Acer Liquid M220 volume rocker

Display

As mentioned, with such a low off-contract price point, it’s to be expected that many aspects of the Liquid M220 will be lacking in quality, and in few places is it more apparent than the device’s display.

Before I really lay into it, though, I would like to point out that I find the smaller screen size refreshing; this reviewer is particularly averse to the unstoppable trend of smartphones becoming increasingly large in the name of massive displays. So the Liquid M220’s 4-inch display is perfectly comfortable for me, but the compliments end there.

Graininess abounds on the display, which is to be expected when the resolution is a mere 800 x 480 pixels. Colors aren’t particularly crisp, and the brightness is very poor. Even on its highest setting, the brightness of the Liquid M220 is underwhelming at best, and it makes viewing the display outdoors in high-light situations nearly impossible.


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