Acer Iconia One 7 review

Acer’s $130 Iconia One 7 is attractive, comfortable to hold, and performs well for a budget tablet. But the 8GB of storage (in the base model) is low.
Acer’s $130 Iconia One 7 is attractive, comfortable to hold, and performs well for a budget tablet. But the 8GB of storage (in the base model) is low.
Acer’s $130 Iconia One 7 is attractive, comfortable to hold, and performs well for a budget tablet. But the 8GB of storage (in the base model) is low.

Highs

  • Low price
  • Comfortable, colorful shell
  • Decent performance
  • Loud speaker

Lows

  • Short battery life
  • Dim, glossy screen
  • Lots of bloatware
  • Cameras stink

DT Editors' Rating

If you’re in the market for a budget-friendly 7-inch Android tablet, there are certainly no shortage of choices.

Just about every major PC maker has gotten in on the game — note the Asus Memo Pad HD 7, Dell Venue 7, HP Slate 7, and Lenovo IdeaTab A3000. We’re probably forgetting a few, but in general, most of these low-end slates are fairly forgettable.

Acer’s Iconia One 7 stands out in this crowded house with a textured plastic back that comes in several different colors and a good feel. It’s surprisingly pleasant to hold and is priced very low, at $130. But Dell’s Venue 7, which runs a similar dual-core Intel Atom processor is already, selling for $120 online. So while the Iconia One 7 is fairly inexpensive, it doesn’t break new ground on the value front.

It is a surprisingly capable and comfortable tablet, however, one that doesn’t necessarily scream “budget” with its looks, feel, or performance. It does have a few shortcomings, including a dim screen and battery life that would probably be better had Acer opted for a newer Intel CPU.

Colorful and comfortable

No low-priced tablet is going to be as thin as Sony’s quarter-inch Xperia Z2, or as light as Google’s 0.66-pound Nexus 7. But the Iconia One 7 isn’t far off on either measurement, at 0.35 inches thick and 0.71 pounds. And thanks to rounded edges and corners and a textured back to add some grip, Acer’s latest budget slate is a pleasure to hold.

Acer’s latest budget slate is a pleasure to hold.

Our review model came in basic black, but Acer says the tablet will come in several other colors, as well. The company says color options will vary by region, but we spotted at least eight shades on display at Acer’s global press conference at the end of April, where the tablet first debuted.

There’s nothing fancy in the way of buttons or ports on the Iconia One 7. Power and volume buttons are on the right side, and feel reasonably solid when pressed. Lower down on the right side is a MicroSD card slot for supplementing the sparse 8GB of internal storage on the base model. (Acer says it will also offer a 16GB model.)

The top houses the Micro USB charging port and the headphone jack. A speaker grille runs along the bottom edge in portrait orientation. That means when you’re holding the tablet in landscape mode, all the audio will be coming out of one side of the tablet. But the volume and quality of the audio output is surprisingly good for a low-priced tablet.

The screen is more “good enough” than great

The first obvious area where Acer tried to keep costs down was with the display. The 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution is more or less to be expected in this price range, as is the big black bezel.

Acer says this is an IPS panel, but don’t take that to mean that colors and contrast don’t shift a bit at extreme angles — because they do. It’s not terrible, and you may not even notice it if you aren’t used to better screens on higher-end devices, but as IPS screens go, this isn’t a good one. It also doesn’t get very bright. The screen’s brightness is fine indoors, but step out in the sun and you may not be able to tell if the screen is at max brightness or off.

All that said, the screen is fairly crisp, and we had no major issues using it indoors. It just made us miss the screen of our trusty (and $100 costlier) Nexus 7.

Last-gen Intel Inside

The Iconia One 7 runs on a last-generation “Clover Trail” 1.6-GHz Intel Atom Z2760 chip and 1GB of RAM. That’s a step up from the MediaTek processors found in some low-priced tablets, but the similarly priced model of the Dell Venue 7 runs a similar Intel chip with 2GB of RAM. And these are last-generation chips, rather than the newer Bay Trail options, which generally provide better performance and battery life.

The Iconia One 7 is plenty peppy for Web browsing, reading, and running most apps.

We don’t put much stock in Android benchmarks, as many companies have admitted to juicing their devices to increase scores. But just for some context, the Iconia One 7 scored 5,125 in the Quadrant benchmark, which measures overall performance and 6,065 in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test, which is meant to measure graphics performance. By comparison, Sony’s high-end Xperia Z2 Android tablet scored 18,100 on Quadrant and 18,900 in 3DMark.

In actual use, the Iconia One 7 didn’t exactly zip and sing, but it also didn’t feel sluggish, either. And we had no problems running our favorite apps. But graphics-heavy games were a mixed bag. Galaxy on Fire 2 HD ran fine, but Anomaly 2 took over a minute to start up. Bottom line: This tablet isn’t the best choice for intensive gaming, but it’s plenty peppy for Web browsing, reading, and running most apps.

Stock Android, with an extra helping of bloat

The good news: Acer has delivered what appears to be stock Android on the Iconia One 7, although it has supplied its own wallpaper. And while the tablet ships with Android 4.2, the company promises an upgrade to 4.4 Kitkat at some point.

The not-so-good news: much like a budget-priced PC, the Iconia One 7 is loaded up with pre-installed apps, from AccuWeather to Zinio, with plenty of others in between. There’s also Booking.com, a nagging McAfee Security app, and the iStoryTime children’s book app, as well as links to WildTangent games and “Top HD Games.” Worse, most of can’t be uninstalled, just hidden. So if you plan on installing many of your own apps, you’re really going to be limited by the 8GB of internal storage on the base model.

The cameras stink, but we don’t care

Tablet cameras are generally pretty bad, but the ones here are worse than usual — even for a budget device. The rear camera is just 2 megapixels, while the front camera took us back to the early days of webcams, with its 0.3-megapixel resolution and extreme graininess. But tablets make for awful cameras anyway and you look silly using them to snap photos.

ACER Iconic ONE 7 top back angle

If you want a tablet for video chats, you should probably avoid the Iconia One 7, unless the person you’re calling doesn’t care much about image quality. If you want to take nice pictures, get a decent smartphone or a real camera. Photos taken with this tablet pretty much universally look awful, with lots of noise, muted, mudy colors, and heaps of missing detail.

A smarter move for next time, Acer: Ditch the rear camera altogether and put something better up from for selfies and Skype calls.

Battery life is short

As we said earlier, the Iconia One 7 uses an older Intel Atom chip, which is likely the chief contributor to the tablet’s lackluster longevity. In medium-to-heavy use, downloading and installing apps, running benchmarks, playing some games, and surfing the Web, the One 7 began begging for a recharge after about six hours. That’s probably enough longevity to keep casual users happy, but higher-end tablets tend to get around 9 hours of use between charges.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a low-priced Android tablet that’s comfortable to hold and comes in a rainbow of colors, Acer’s Iconia One 7 is a solid option, so long as you don’t care about camera quality and long battery life.

It’s not overly peppy or powerful, but doesn’t feel sluggish or underpowered, either. Just note that if you’re planning on installing more than a few apps — especially if you want to install games — the 8GB base model will feel very cramped, as there’s a fair amount of pre-install software that you can’t easily get rid of. We’d recommend opting for the 16GB model, because while you can add more storage via the MicroSD card slot, most apps need to run on internal storage.

Highs

  • Low price
  • Comfortable, colorful shell
  • Decent performance
  • Loud speaker

Lows

  • Short battery life
  • Dim, glossy screen
  • Lots of bloatware
  • Cameras stink
Computing

Your new PC may have shipped with an unsupported version of Windows 10

If you bought or are looking to buy a new Windows laptop or tablet this holiday season, be aware that it could have shipped with an unsupported operating system. The issue is caused by Microsoft pulling its October 2018 Update.
Home Theater

What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?

There are more ways to mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV than you might think. Check out our rundown of MHL for everything you need to know about the wired protocol and its myriad uses.
Computing

Best Buy’s pre-Black Friday deal takes $330 off the 2017 Surface Pro bundle

If you don't need the latest Surface Pro, Best Buy has a heavily discounted rendition of the 2017 model available in its pre-Black Friday sale. For just $1,000, you can get the tablet with a Core i5 CPU.
Deals

The best iPad deals for November 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for November 2018.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Mobile

Best Google Pixel 3 XL screen protectors

It's tough to find good screen protectors, but the 6.3-inch OLED screen in the Google Pixel 3 XL definitely demands to be protected from scratches and impact damage. We've picked out the best options and included insight into the downsides.
Mobile

Taking shots in the dark with Night Sight, the Pixel’s newest photo feature

The Google Pixel range has always been the home of some of the mobile world's best phone cameras. That performance is now getting even better with the introduction of the low-light Night Sight mode.
Mobile

Pocket Casts adds more cross-sync, curation, and Siri Shortcuts

Pocket Casts is a pocket staple for many podcast fanatics. But it's about to get even better with the introduction Pocket Casts 7.0 that adds intelligent curation, Siri Shortcuts support, and a streamlined UI.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Mobile

Samsung will reportedly announce its folding smartphone at MWC in February

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Mobile

Text messages are disappearing on Pixel 3s, but a fix is on the way

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are arguably the best Android phones out there right now -- but they aren't perfect. Users have reported a number of issues and problems related to the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Here's how to fix them.
Mobile

Get ready for more V-series phones: LG trademarks names up to the V90

It looks like we should get ready for more LG V-series phones. LG has trademarked names for the LG V50 all the way up to the LG V90. We may have to wait some time before we see these phones; the next LG flagship is expected to be the LG G8.
Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.
Mobile

Google rolls out Night Sight to Pixel 3 and 3 XL camera app

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.