When people mention Android, typically it’s all about humongous smart phones and how much processing cores it can pack. That is normally the trend for the high end flagship models today with 5″ screens being a standard benchmark today. However there are those who seek practical sized smart phones. Something that offers decent performance without having their phones outgrowing their palms.
This is where the Acer CloudMobile S500 comes in, which is a mid-spec device that strives to create a balance between performance and size. Read on for the full review of the CloudMobile S500 to find out how it fares on a day to day usage.
Hardware & Design
At first glance, the CloudMobile S500 size may suggest low spec offerings but don’t be mistaken as it packs quite a punch. It is powered with a respectable dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor mated with 1GB of RAM and comes with 8GB of on-board storage. At the front, it has a 4.3” IPS display which pushes a 1280×720 pixels resolution. This gives a pixel density of 342ppi which puts it in line with some of the flagship smart phones out there.
In terms of imaging, it comes with a 8MP camera with assisted flash while at the front it has a 0.7MP camera. Connectivity wise, it rather generous with NFC, HSPA+ and it is capable of streaming media over WiFi. The only gripe is the battery which is 1,460mAh in capacity. As comparison, its Intel based sibling – the Liquid C1 packs a much generous 2,000mAh battery.
Design wise, the CloudMobile S500 looks refreshing and stands out from the usual boxy design. With curved edges and the lack of physical capacitive buttons gave the illusion that it is a smaller device, like a 4 incher. The front is rather clean with an all black front flanked with chrome accents at both top and bottom. The earpiece is discreetly hidden underneath the fine micro-hole grills at the top. Unfortunately, there’s no notification LED which is a feature that most would appreciate.
Over at the back, the CloudMobile S500 comes with a removable back cover which has a prominent Acer logo in the centre and a Dolby emblem for the speaker outlet. Although the CloudMobile S500 is predominately constructed with plastic, it feels quite up market with its dot textured back. When we tried opening the back cover, it does feel as if it’s going to break but it is actually quite durable and snaps back pretty well with unnoticeable gaps.
The unit which we had is the white colour version and it comes with a pearl-white like finish. On the left, there’s an exposed micro USB charging port while on the right you’ll find a volume rocker.
Software & UI
Out of the box, the CloudMobile S500 runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich but shortly after we’ve gotten the update to Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. Considering that there isn’t any heavy customised user interface like other smart phones, getting the latest updates should be pretty easy for this device.
Usually for a plain vanilla operating system, it feels pretty bare but Acer has thrown in a couple of enhancements. The drop down notification bar is different with tabs for settings where you can toggle connectivity options such as Bluetooth, WiFi, Mobile Data instantly and there’s even an alarm tab. They have also thrown in a couple of extras such as widgets, Cloud storage and widgets as well. Also included is Swype, which is one of our favourite keyboards for fast input.
The CloudMobile S500 like Acer’s current range of smart phones tend to use a lot of horizontal swipe gestures. The home screen unlocks by swiping either left to right or vice versa and it is the same for launching apps from home screen. While this takes a while to get used to, swiping horizontally with a thumb tends to feel rather natural.
Usage & Performance
During our long term use, we find the CloudMobile S500 to be a decent performer with it being able to take on most of our apps without breaking a sweat. It definitely isn’t blazing like its quad-core rivals but the S500 manages to get the job done without much hesitance.
As expected with a lower capacity bettery, it lasted about 8-10 based on our hard core usage. This means that you would probably want to keep it charged whenever you have the chance however that’s just us. A much more light and casual usage could probably see better battery life and this can be stretched further with Power Saving mode.
Apart from its lower than average battery life, the CloudMobile S500 tends to warm up pretty quickly especially the area near the camera. This was quite a surprise considering Qualcomm S4 is supposed to be cooler to run. In terms of performance, the CloudMobile S500 scores 6167 in Quadrant and 10375 on AnTuTu which is pretty decent.
The CloudMobile S500 comes with a 8MP shooter which comes with burst mode of 10 continuous shots. While they don’t provide exact numbers, it is roughly about 10 fps which is activated by tapping on the shutter button once in burst mode, instead of holding on the shutter button. There’s also other bells and whistles as well such as HDR and Panorama shot which is a nice addition. You can check out the camera functions in a quick hands-on video below.
For those who are switching up to a smart phone or looking for something that isn’t too big in the hands, the CloudPhone S500 is something to consider provided that you’re not a heavy user. The display and performance is equivalent to last year’s flagship device and the screen is rather clear with good viewing angles. Design wise, it really does stand out especially with the white colour version. During our usage, we get curious stares and some are surprised that Acer is in the smart phone business.
The Achilles heel of course would be the battery. If only it had a larger battery of at least 1,800mAh that lasts for 12 hours or more, this would have been a serious contender for those seeking for a mid-range device. Priced at RM1,299, the S500 faces an uphill battle with other mid-spec devices in the same price range.