Acer Iconia Smart S300 is a 4.8-inch Android device that has set the entire consumer electronics industry abuzz with its powerful tablet capabilities packed neatly and sleekly in palm-friendly smartphone format.
At the heart of S300 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoC with a processor clocked at 1GHz. The Acer Iconia Smart S300 is a good device overall. The screen is brilliant, and is a joy to watch HD movies on or browse the web. It also has a decent 8 MP camera. On first glance from afar, the Acer Iconia Smart looks like any other smartphone. But on holding it in your hand, you are in a quandary as to whether this device is really just a smartphone.
The screen size of 4.8-inches is about 0.5-inches longer than the largest size on seen on smartphone screens. Also the naming convention used by Acer is misleading. Iconia is the name of their tablet series, but it being followed by the Smart moniker and the size of the device indicates a phone. It also packs 512 MB of RAM, microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB), along with GSM and WCDMA support. We can say Acer Iconia smart S300 is “A smartphone with tablet like capabilities.” So we will address the S300 as a smartphone.
Design and Build
The form factor lies somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet. Of course, the screen size is much lower than the 7-inch size that is standard minimum screen size for most tablets. This is even wider than the usual 16:9 widescreen format —but the overall effect of the screen is captivating. The size is also helped by a higher pixel density — the screen has a resolution of 1024 x 480 pixels which translates into 236 pixels per inch. But otherwise the build is like a smartphone with the thickest size being 14mm on the side. The screen portion is neatly divided into two portions – the bezel and the hardware button. The button placed at the bottom of the screen has four backlit menus such as Home, Search, Back and Contextual menu. There is a nice feedback on the buttons and even though it is a single button across the breath.
The overall shape is rectangular with the edges rounded off to give an easy grasp. The top of the screen has a 2 MP front facing camera. Power button and 3.5mm jack are present on the top edge whereas the lower edge is clean. On the right hand side you will find the volume rocker on the top and the camera shutter button on the lower side. And On the left hand side edge you have the slots for microUSB port and a mini-HDMI port.
On the rear side, you have an 8MP camera on the top besides which is located an LED flash. In this smartphone speaker section is located above the camera. It is a metallic unibody design on the rear side, with the lower section opening up to reveal the battery section. There is no provision for hot swapping, as you have to remove the battery as the slots for the SIM card and microSD card are covered by the battery compartment. A small red projection locks the battery in place.
The rear surface is a bit too smooth to give enough grip, so you will most likely have to get a cover which is very easy to grab. The feedback on the menu buttons, volume rocker and camera shutter button is quite good.
The Acer Iconia Smart houses the Qualcomm MSM8255-1 Snapdragon system-on-chip, which has the 1 GHz single-core Scorpion processor. It runs on the Android Gingerbread (v2.3) operating system. Acer has of course added its own customizations to the Gingerbread OS called the Acer UI 4.2. It has five home screens. The first screen has the carousel on the left hand side for quickly accessing media files such as pictures, music and video whereas the fifth screen has a similar carousel on the right hand side featuring popular websites. In between you have four screens which you can populate with you most commonly used widgets, apps or shortcuts. The lock screen itself has three screens where you can access music, events and view missed calls or messages along with time. You can even start your camera without unlocking the phone by simply pressing the shutter button when the phone is in sleep more. The phone has internal memory of 8GB and of you need more space you can increase the storage with the help of microSD memory cards (up to 32GB). And For your connectivity needs the phone has Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, UPnP, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot and 3G. The 8MP rear camera has auto-focus and LED flash but no secondary camera, which cannot be forgiven.
It comes with the standard Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Calendar and some Acer apps such as Social Jogger, Acer Sync and nemoPlayer among others. You also have three HD games such as Asphalt 5, Spider-Man and N.O.V.A which need to be downloaded before you begin play. The Iconia Smart features an ultra-responsive motion sensing system, complete with a six-axis gyroscope and accelerometer, e-compass, and light and proximity sensors.
The first thing that you will look for is the display. Thanks to the Gorilla glass and backlit LED display, images and videos appear brilliantly vivid. The design alone is unlike anything you’ve ever seen: a wide 4.8-inch screen with a cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio and pixel-perfect 1024 x 480 resolution. This stunning centrepiece is framed by an elegant — and very durable — unibody metal cover, which is only 64-mm thin, and curved smoothly at the back so that the device fits naturally and comfortably in your hand.Acer bundles a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable with which you can connect the smartphone to your HDTV. This comes in handy if you want to make presentations directly off the phone.
As with most Android devices which sport a 1 GHz processor, the response of the screen is quite fast. The media and web carousels on the edge home screens are a quick way to access content The Gallery app was strangely lagging a lot while loading photographs. For heavy photos, as you are surfing through your album, you first get a blurred view which clears after a couple of seconds to give the sharper image. But with the Iconia Smart’s Gallery app, it seems to take ages to do that, which is not desirable. Social Jogger app also has an impressive design, but it does not add much value over say a dedicated Twitter or Facebook app.The default browser is quick, but does not support multiple tabs. It does however resize according to the zoom factor which is a boon as it makes reading long web articles easier.
We did not face any issues with the call quality. There were no dropped calls or distortion in Zone 1 and Zone 2. Loudspeaker mode is not that great, as surrounding sounds tend to drown out the Iconia Smart’s speakers output. The earphones provided along with the device are quite good and we faced no noticeable issues while attending calls using it. The stock Android music player lets you listen to a variety of music formats. The additional feature on this phone is the Dolby Digital. I didn’t notice any difference in audio quality (it continued to be average) when the Dolby settings were applied. However, there was a marked difference when the phone was connected to a dedicated 5.1 audio system. The bundled earphones were surprisingly very good.
The Iconia Smart houses an 8 MP camera which is quite good. The amount of customization options that you get will rival any entry level point and shoot camera. It is quite easy to switch between the rear and front facing camera or between still and video camera. Panorama mode allows you to click a set of multiple photos which are then stitched to give you a single panoramic image and with the wide screen it is a joy to shoot panoramas.
Video camera is capable of shooting 720p videos and gave good quality videos in brightly lit conditions. Minor jittering is noticeable as you pan the camera.Image quality is good as long as you do not zoom in. Also indoor shots were not that great without flash. You do tend to see minor artefacts if you do not use flash.
The six-axis gyroscope ensures a smooth gaming experience using the accelerometer.It comes bundled with three games: N.O.V.A, Asphalt 5 and Spiderman. Asphalt 5 looks lovely on the wide screen and we did not notice any heating issues with the phone despite gaming for long hours. Of course, it does sip a lot of battery as expected.
The Iconia Smart 300 has a surprisingly low battery juice of just 1500mAh for a 4.8-inch screen device. It does last for a day with calling, surfing the net, listening to music and watching video content. But we would have liked to see a higher capacity battery, as it will drain soon if you have a lot of video content which you would want to consume on this screen.
The Acer Iconia Smart S300 is a good device overall. The screen is brilliant, wide screen is a joy to watch HD movies on, web pages require less scrolling and the text easily realigns itself on zooming, the 8MP camera is quite decent. Given its extra-large 4.8-inch capacitive touchscreen with 16 million colours support and with 1024 x 480 pixel resolution, Iconia Smart S300 is receiving mixed feedback. The Acer Iconia Smart is loaded with extras. An internal storage capacity of 8 GB provides extra room for documents, photos, videos, and apps, while an HDMI port connects the device to a TV or computer monitor for extra-wide viewing and extra-fun gaming. A revolutionary DLNA sharing interface — the Acer clear.fi — wirelessly connects the Iconia Smart to your other devices, including your desktop computer, laptop, home storage, and PC sound system, so that it is extra-easy to share, stream, and sync across your entire home or office network.
The Acer Iconia Smart retails for Rs. 27,990 which we think is pretty high. Looking to the fact, that Smartphone market will be more populated by the Galaxy S2’s, HTC Sensation’s and iPhone 4’s it will be hard for Acer to acquire some good position in the market unless this one is priced less.