By July 2, 2009

Acer X960 Review

Acer got on the smartphone bandwagon earlier this year and have released their ‘Tempo Smartphone’ range. I’ve been given the Acer X960 to review. It looks quite good, but I’ve heard quite a few mixed views and opinions about it. So, I’ll get on with the review to make up my own mind about it.

X960_angled_right The Acer X960


What’s in the box?

  • Acer X960 handset
  • Battery
  • Stylus
  • USB cable (mini USB connection on the handset)
  • Screen protector
  • Quick guide manual
  • CDs (User manual, Windows Mobile ‘Getting Started’ software, Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 trial)
  • Mains charger (mini USB connection to the handset)
  • Stereo headphones/handsfree (mini USB connection)


More information can be found in Matt’s unboxing video.


Acer X960 specification:

  • Operating System – Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • Processor – Samsung S3C 6400 mobile processor 533 MHz
  • Memory – ROM: 256MB/RAM: 128MB
  • Display – 2.8" 480×640 pixel TFT Touchscreen
  • Operating Frequency – GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
  • HSDPA / UMTS 850 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
  • microSD
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
  • Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP
  • MiniUSB
  • Built-in GPS receiver (SiRFstar III)
  • 3.15 MP, 2048×1536 pixels, flash, video; secondary VGA videocall camera
  • 1530mAh Lithium-ion Battery
  • Dimensions – 106.4 x 59 x 13.7 mm
  • Weight – 131.5g



Front – There is the VGA front-facing camera for video calls, the speaker for phone calls, 2.8 inch TFT touch screen, call and end buttons, dedicated GPS button, D-pad with select key in the centre and a home/back button.

x960_front Acer X960 – front view


Right – Here you have the stylus, dedicated camera button, microSD compartment and the power button.

x960_right Acer X960 – right side view


Left – Eyelet for a lanyard or wrist strap, up/down rocker button for volume (and zoom for the camera), reset button, and select/ok button (user defined).

x960_left Acer X960 – left side view


Bottom – The mini USB connection and the microphone hole are all that in on the bottom of the phone.

x960_bottom Acer X960 – bottom view


Back – On the back you can see the 3.2MP camera, flash, self portrait mirror and speakers (for audio playback and speakerphone). The back cover houses the battery and sim card.

x960_back Acer X960 – back view



  • Sturdy build
  • Haptic feedback
  • Decent pictures with camera
  • LED Flash for low light pictures
  • Built-in speakers are of a good quality



  • Bulky build
  • Quite a heavy handset
  • Touchscreen very slow to respond
  • Acer user interface over Windows Mobile OS



I was thought I would be quite impressed with the Acer X960. Although you can see straight away that it’s quite a chunky phone to carry around, its bulk gives the impression that it is going to be packed with high quality and high spec features. It’s definitely on the weighty side but it does feel sturdy and robust. The handset has a black body and chrome edging which looks ok. Matt mentioned the E-Ten look still sneaking in here (Acer purchased E-Ten last year) which you can definitely notice. Moving away from the E-Ten design to a fresh new one might have given this phone a bit more appeal.


x960_angled_leftThe Acer X960


The screen is 2.8 inches which is a generous size and the quality of the display is pretty good. I did however find that the display was quite hard to see when out in sunlight. I guess this is quite a common annoyance of many phones but I found the X960 particularly bad for this as the screen is quite reflective. There is no accelerometer (which would change the orientation of the display as the phone was rotated) which is a shame as it would have made the most of the 2.8" inch screen.

If you watched Matt’s unboxing video you will have seen that the phone takes quite a time to start up for the first time. Unfortunately it actually takes quite a long time every time you start up the phone. Obviously not as long as the first time as it is initialising and installing apps but don’t expect to be able to make a quick phone call or text if the phone has been switched off! Ok fair enough. you just don’t switch it off unless you really need to.

One of the main features that you will see with this handset is Acer’s user interface which has been placed over the Windows Mobile operating system. I’ve read other reviews on this and it seems that there are varying opinions about it. It has three desktops (or ‘home’ screens) which you just slide across the screen to get to each one. It is designed as an office desk with items on it which represent shortcuts to applications such as the calendar, email, etc. 

Some people like it, and some don’t. It’s a simple to use interface and quite a good idea, but I think it looks very dated and there is no option to customise what is on display so I’m not that keen on it. Of course, being a Windows Mobile device you can expect all the usual features too, which can be accessed through the Start menu.

Whilst checking out the features through the menus it became apparent that there was one huge thing letting this phone down. The touch screen. It can be very slow to respond and even sometimes doesn’t respond at all so I found myself having to select options more than once. This became quite frustrating so I found myself checking other people’s views again (just in case it happened to be just the review model I had). It seems that I’m not the only one who experience this issue.  A definite improvement required here as this really lets the phone down. To add to this, the stylus is too small and flimsy so I felt less inclined to use it. This unfortunately lead to ‘fat thumb/finger syndrome’ where wrong options are accidentally selected as the icons and buttons are very small.

This leads me on to text input. A nightmare without the stylus!! The soft QWERTY keyboard is near to impossible to use without the stylus, and when you do use it, inputting any text takes twice as long because you will find yourself taking the time to make sure you press the right letter. and then wait for it to respond to your selection. There are other input methods like handwriting recognition but again, not that user friendly.


There is a good range of connectivity – HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 and SiRFstar III GPS. Quite impressive for high speed web browsing but the unresponsive screen and fiddly zoom in and out on the browser really puts you off.

The X960 comes with a 3.2MP camera and LED flash which you can take stills and video with. The interface used for the camera isn’t that impressive and there is a bit of a shutter lag. A 3.2 MP camera is quite common amongst smartphones and you can normally take a decent picture with them (mainly in good lighting). For some reason taking decent still pictures with this 3.2 MP camera on the X960 is really difficult and the pictures seem slightly blurred. This is a shame as the quality of the pre-loaded pictures are brilliant and really show off the display quality.

I was glad to see that there was an LED flash as the last few phones that I’ve reviewed didn’t have one which meant that low lighting picture were pretty much out of the question. But, I found another issue here that taking photos with the flash gave off coloured (greenish yellow tinge) photos. Video quality doesn’t seem much better. The size of video is pretty small, and if you move quickly or are shooting a faster moving object the quality goes right out the window.

Windows Media Player is used for music and video playback. The inbuilt speaker on the back is actually pretty good for a phone loudspeaker. So, you can playback music using the loud speaker, or use the stereo headphones that come with the phone. The X960 would benefit from a 3.5mm jack so that there was the option to use your own headphones but the packaged ones aren’t that bad.

Video can be played back in landscape mode when Windows Media Player is set to full screen. As mentioned before, there is no accelerometer to do this automatically.

Phone call quality is good (of course network coverage would affect this) and the quality of the loud speaker means that when using the speaker phone mode the sound is loud and clear.



I was really disappointed with Acer’s X960. I expected Acer to enter the world of Smartphones with a handset that would have everyone wanting more. OK, I guess I did want more – but more from the phone!

As with all gadgets there are always features that people like and don’t like, which is just personal opinion. An example here would be the user interface Acer have place on the phone. Not my cup of tea, but others like it. But i think there is one thing that has completely let the X960 down which I can’t imagine any one would like, and that is the very slow responding touch screen. It’s frustrating to say the least and completely takes the enjoyment of using the phone.

Acer need to hit the Smartphone market with a fresh idea and steer away from the E-Ten design as it’s already starting to look old. There is definitely potential to we’ll have to wait and see what will appear next!



Reviewed by: Emma

Posted in: Reviews

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