My Acer Liquid M330 ‘Crap’ Phone

The ‘tiny’ Acer Liquid M330 is as close to a feature phone a Windows “smartphone” can get. In a fit of minimalist rage against the practices of AT&T, I seized upon this phone as soon as I saw it on display in the Microsoft Store. This phone gives me the smallest display of Windows 10 I would ever want to see—and it gives me the occidental novelty of the dual SIM. In spite of its low price, I would not touch this phone were it not for its compatibility with Ting. Acer M330

I called the Microsoft Store in person to obtain its IMEI number:

IMEI: 352922070668644

I ran it through the Ting BYOD form and found success.

Success here is rather pathetic. With this phone, I have successfully found a lone mountain cabin in the woods to hole up in. I should have acted on this sooner as I have been paying AT&T $160+ per month for two locked devices (a Lumina 1520 and 2520—the 2520 with an AT&T data plan was a way to control my youngest children in the car). Now that my youngest children have their own iPhones there is no (emotional) need to stay shackled to the AT&T Tree of Woe.

My “excuse” for staying with Windows Phone…

In spite of clear signals of Microsoft stepping away from its previous mobile strategies, I stay with Windows 10 because of my chosen profession. I am still under the impression that I can build for Windows 10 first and then use Xamarin/Microsoft products to build for the other platforms. So, when I discover that, say, Strava is not on Windows 10 mobile, I still swagger and look forward to building the app myself. I am trying to approach mobile like how a C programmer approaches Linux: when something is missing, build it. Along with Strava being non-present, the ‘native’ Microsoft podcast app is also in need of replacement (I have tried PODCASTS! and am underwhelmed with its Windows-8-ness and choppy UX).

The worst thing about my experience with the M330 so far is it my attempt to use the micro-SD card. The Microsoft Store posted support for 64GB while the manual I found online stated 32GB was the maximum. Simultaneously, Windows 10 kept ‘ejecting’ the micro-SD card without regard to two different brands and capacities (and speed). I put a bunch of music on the external storage and Groove Music kept losing it. Rebooting the phone gave me the pop-up about how I should “properly” remove the micro-SD card—before I got past the lock screen. Acer M330

I eventually visited the Microsoft Store to explain my situation—and, to my surprise, I walked out of the store with a new replacement phone—very surprising especially after refusing to buy their $30 warranty! Great work, Microsoft!

However, the spontaneous micro-SD-card ejection behavior started again. This time I could see that the ejection occurred when Windows 10 was handling the audio of phone call and playing (Groove) music or a podcast (in the PODCASTS! or the native Microsoft app).

Is the problem Windows 10 or the Acer hardware—or both?

After upgrading the phone to the Windows “Anniversary” update there has been little improvement. My developer instinct is telling me what no obedient Microsoft employee would recognize publicly (while the problem cannot be solved): no one tested the “Anniversary” release on the Acer M330. The new update is actually hiding/cropping/truncating critical UI elements. For example, I am unable to read a SMS text before I send it. Almost all apps with a bottom strip of buttons is cropped. The keyboard touch is miscalibrated: you have to press 16 pixels or more above the intended key. This is quite an embarrassing time for Windows 10 mobile.

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