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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With the CloudMobile S500, Acer seems to be making a genuine push to compete with the major smartphone players.

It's got an absolutely gorgeous screen, a formidably fast processor and a premium build. Not only that, but in an effort to stand out from the crowd, Acer has heavily integrated its AcerCloud service into the handset, making it more connected out of the box than most other phones.

All that and a price tag well below the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5.

But it's not a flawless effort. The battery stops it in its tracks, while AcerCloud isn't quite all we hoped it would be. Add to that a fairly insubstantial 8GB of internal storage and a contacts screen that stinks of laziness, and there are suddenly quite a few caveats to any recommendation we could make for it.

We liked

The Acer CloudMobile S500 has one of the best screens we've ever seen on a smartphone. It's incredibly sharp and really shows up the competition.

It's also very fast and powerful, and looks like a premium handset through and through. This is Acer's flagship phone, and in these areas it really shows.

The great screen also makes it brilliant for web browsing and watching videos, while Dolby Mobile helps with the sound quality, making it an admirable music player too.

It's got an accurate keyboard, a decent camera and a few nice extras such as Polaris Office and video editing software.

We disliked

The battery is easily the single biggest problem with the Acer CloudMobile S500. It's just not very good, and will really struggle to even get you through to the end of the day. That's a serious issue, since a smartphone with a dead battery is just an expensive paperweight - at least until you find a charger.

AcerCloud is also a real letdown given that the handset is called a 'CloudMobile'. As a bonus feature it's fine, but just don't buy it expecting a complete cloud solution, because you won't get one, and you might still find yourself heading to Dropbox when it comes down to it.

Only having 8GB of internal storage is a bit of a shame too, when other phones at this price tend to come with 16GB, though at least it supports microSD cards.

Also, while it's undoubtedly a premium handset in look and feel, its appearance won't be to everyone's tastes, ultimately coming off as slightly bland.

Final verdict

The Acer CloudMobile S500 is a fairly impressive handset. The screen is absolutely stunning - one of the best around in fact, and certainly better than others in its price range.

The dual-core 1.5GHz processor can tackle pretty much anything you throw at it. The phone looks expensive and feels good in the hand, and it comes with a pretty solid 8 megapixel camera.

But it's not all good news. The battery is a huge letdown and Acer really dropped the ball with its cloud service, particularly given that it's the headline feature.

It's a shame, because both of these seem like easy fixes - ship it with a bigger battery and remove some of the restrictions from the cloud service and suddenly the Acer CloudMobile S500 becomes a real powerhouse, worthy of the name.

But that's not what happened, so the phone we got is good, but not great.

The screen is the star of the show here, and while the Acer CloudMobile S500 drops the ball in a couple of key areas it's still an impressive handset. Just make sure you keep a spare battery in your pocket.

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.