Acer F900: Some Observations
The Acer F900 is one of Acer’s first breed of Windows Mobile 6.1 phones, featuring a huge 3.8in touchscreen (480×800), 3.12MP camera, and a Samsung SC3 6410 (533 MHz) processor. When it was offerred on singtelshop.com at 88SGD with a 2-year postpaid plan (retail price is at least 500 SGD), I decided to get one and have a closer look.
After a few weeks playing with the phone, I listed down some of my observations, which I hope will be helpful for those who want to consider buying this phone.
- Huge touchscreen (3.8in) with reasonable sensitivity at a reasonable price.
- Huge 256MB of internal storage.
- Fast performance considering the 533MHz processor.
- Reasonable built-in camera performance with flash. Pictures and videos taken with the built-in camera look sharp when viewed in a PC.
- On-board GPS chip is sensitive and seems to take shorter time to acquire a fix. The default GPS viewer is useful to find out your current longitude, latitude, altitude and speed without having to use a third-party tool.
- There is no front camera, and therefore no video calls, not even incoming video calls! Incoming video calls are rejected automatically, and caller will receive a busy tone.
- Even with the maximum level of backlight, the touchscreen is sometimes not useable in a bright environment – you can hardly see anything.
- With the default 1.008 ROM, sometimes the phone will freeze when in suspend mode. Pressing the Power button does not wake the phone up; a soft-reset may not also work and the only resolution is to disconnect the battery and put it back. To resolve this, flash to the latest ROM (v2 at least) from the Acer website. Even with the latest ROM, sometimes you’ll need to press the Power button twice to wake the phone up.
- The loudspeaker volume is not good enough. Audio is distorted at high volume level. Even with a headset, I found the volume level to be not high enough. This seems to be a hardware limitation.
- Battery life is short and can only last around 1 day of average use (a few phone calls, 1 hour of 3G surfing and less than 1 hour of using Wifi). There is no option to disable USB charging and the registry tweak to disable this does not work. Considering the low battery life, this is a big disadvantage.
- When the charger is connected, battery level does not show how many percent the battery has been charged, but just a marquee instead. Certain tools to view battery level (e.g. System Information that comes with Resco Explorer) does not show a marquee, but instead shows a random number. For example, it may show 80% at one time, and 60% after a refresh. It seems that the API to retrieve battery level returns random number when the phone is charging!
- There is no special UI (such as TouchFlo 3D) for the phone. Although it has the Acer Shell that replaces the default Windows Mobile today screen, I found the Acer Shell to be useless which contains mostly shortcuts leading to the standard Windows Mobile UI. In the end I disabled the Acer Shell and used the default Windows Mobile UI.
- The default ROM eats up too much internal storage (around 30MB left upon a hard-reset). Since many of the built-in tools are useless, you may want to consider flashing to a lite ROM to save storage space.
- Signal reception is weak, which shows around 2-3 bars (out of 5 bars) when other phones show full reception. Sometimes after a soft-reset, the phone struggles to search for network, which may take up to 5 minutes, after a soft-reset.
- Although there is a soft-reset button where you can use the stylus to press and reset the phone, doing this sometimes won’t work, in which case you’ll have to hold the Power button while pressing the soft-reset button!
- For some reasons many running application will crash with an Access Violation (message ‘An error has occurred with…’ is displayed) if focus is lost to desktop when it is running. This seems to be a problem with the ROM since Windows Live Messenger crashes this way a few times just after a hard-reset.
- The built-in Connection Manager is limited in its ability to disconnect data connections. Switching off ‘Data Connection’ does not only turn off all existing data connections but also prevent future data connections from being established. All established data connections remain active until explicitly turned off, and the registry tweak to auto turn off the connections after a number of minutes does not seem to work.
Since this is not meant to be a full review of the phone, the pros and cons are unbalanced. I am sure users are more interested in the possible issues and therefore put more focus in them. Extending the list of strong points about this phone is left as an exercise for the reader