Acer CloudMobile S500 review

Will this cloud-connected phone do enough to win us over?

Acer CloudMobile S500
Cloud and proud

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Acer CloudMobile S500 review

The Acer CloudMobile S500 ships with the standard Android mapping options, which is to say it comes with Google Maps.

That almost goes without saying really, since we'd be shocked to find an Android device that didn't.

The reason we'd be shocked, beyond the fact that Google make both Android and Google Maps, is that it's just such a good service.

It would be madness to release an Android device with anything else.

It's accurate and detailed, with listings for businesses and landmarks, traffic information, transit lines and terrain and latitude information.

It's got detailed routes for pedestrians, motorists and public transport, and it even has built-in access to Google Street View.

Acer CloudMobile S500 review

But you probably know all this, because there won't be many people reading this who haven't accessed Google Maps in some form or other.

It also comes with Google Navigation - again that's pretty standard, but worth mentioning.

Because although it's still in beta, it's an impressive sat nav service that so far hasn't failed to get us where we want to go.

The Acer CloudMobile S500 also seems to have a very fast GPS signal, locking onto our location in no time.

There are a number of alternative mapping and sat nav options available from Google Play if you want them.

Acer CloudMobile S500 review

These include premium services such as TomTom, but for most users the bundled apps should more than suffice.

The out-of-the-box apps experience on the Acer CloudMobile S500 is a bit of a mixed bag.

On the one hand it comes with a huge number of media apps, which we've covered on the Media page of this review, but on the other hand it's dropped the ball a bit in other areas.

There isn't much in the way of other apps, just basic things such as a calculator, alarm clock and calendar (which can, in its favour, be synced with your Google calendars).

There's no notes app, which we came to miss almost immediately, and there's no timer or stop watch either.

As with everything else, you can always download one, but these are basic things that we'd expect it to come with.

Acer CloudMobile S500 review

What it does have is a whole suite of cloud services, which in Acer's eyes is seemingly its main selling point.

But even that is something of a bittersweet experience.

Documents, pictures, videos and music can all be synced with your AcerCloud account, enabling you to access them on a PC or other Android device.

That sounds great, but in practice it's rather problematic.

Take documents, for example - there's a cloud-connected Docs app that enables you to view documents, presentations and spreadsheets on your phone, but you can't create them there.

Acer CloudMobile S500 review

Instead you have to create them on a PC and then sync them across.

Given that there are numerous fully featured office suites available for Android, it's frustratingly limiting that you can't create new documents with the Docs app, or sync documents to it if they were created on the phone.

In fact, the Acer CloudMobile S500 even comes with Polaris Office, which is a competent suite of tools for viewing, creating and editing documents.

Polaris even supports Dropbox and other cloud services, yet because the documents haven't come from a PC, they can't be synced to AcerCloud.

Other media isn't quite so limited, but it also didn't always seem to sync up properly, and there doesn't seem to be any way to manually sync things from the handset - either they get uploaded automatically or they don't, and you have to make do without them.

Oh well, it's a bit hit and miss, but at least you can generally access things you've done on a computer on the go.

Acer CloudMobile S500 review

But hold on a minute, you are running Windows 7 right?

Because if not then (unless it's an Acer PC) the cloud service isn't compatible, rendering the syncing of documents obsolete (since you can't sync documents without a PC), and hampering all its other uses.

Heaven help you if you've got a Mac, because Acer certainly won't.

If you do have compatible devices, then when it works it works quite well, but with Dropbox, Box, Evernote and other cloud services already supporting Android and many users already entrenched in their services, Acer's offering becomes a hard sell.

Looked at as a nice extra or simply a bullet point on the box it makes sense, but as the key selling point of the Acer CloudMobile S500 it really doesn't.

It's too little too late. Maybe if Acer makes it more widely compatible and more reliable it could become a compelling service, but for the moment it hasn't tempted us to jump ship from our other cloud accounts.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.