Acer's £316 (inc. VAT) neoTouch P400 is something of a rarity in smartphone circles. It runs Windows Mobile 6.5.3, and it does so without any attempt to 'skin' the operating system. Skins are successfully applied by HTC, among others, as a way of masking Microsoft's user interface and making it more 'finger friendly'. Acer clearly thinks it can manage without a top layer.
The neoTouch P400 has a distinctly iPhone-like look about it, with its black fascia, rounded corners and sliver trim around the edges. There are four touch icons beneath the screen — for Call, End, the Windows Phone applications menu and Home. The latter has a circular frame that Acer calls the Home Ring. This glows red when you're charging the device, green when it's charged, and white to issue alerts. We rather like it.
The neoTouch P400 has a 3.2in. screen with a resolution of 320 by 480 pixels. That's quite a low resolution by today's standards, but the display is sharp and bright enough. However, it's a little small for activities like web browsing, even when flipped into landscape mode.
This being a Windows phone, the screen needs calibrating when you switch the handset on for the first time. You'll need a stylus, pen nib or other suitably pointed object for this task, and we were frustrated to have nothing suitable to hand. A fingernail will do the trick, but you'll need to be precise.
The specifications are solid and include a 600MHz processor, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and a 3.2-megapixel camera. It's a quad-band GSM phone with mobile broadband in the shape of HSPA (7.2Mbps download, 2Mbps upload). There is 512MB of ROM and 256MB of RAM, plus a microSD card slot for additional storage.
The Windows Mobile 6.5.3 UI has some significant changes from its predecessor — notably finger-friendly and well-labelled softkeys at the bottom of the main screen and a relocated Start button to the bottom left (rather than top left) of the screen. As the version of Windows Mobile used here is unskinned, these and other stylus-banishing tweaks are very noticeable.