PC maker Acer announces new Iconia Smart phone

The Taiwan firm is seen becoming more competitive in handhelds

Acer announced a new smartphone on Tuesday as the world's second largest PC maker takes another step into mobile devices.

The Taiwan-based Acer's Iconia Smart, released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, has a 4.8-inch high-resolution screen, ideal for Web browsing, and uses the Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system, the company said in a statement.

The thin, slightly curved Iconia phone, which also includes an 8 mega-pixel camera with an LED flash, is not yet on the market. It has a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor inside.

Acer did not give a release date or a price range for the smartphone.

Those smartphones, along with Acer's lower-priced beTouch line and the more stylish Liquid series, add to the company's growing portfolio in a global smartphone market dominated by giants such as Apple, HTC and Nokia.

The 35-year-old manufacturer known better for its lightweight netbook computers has had up-to-date smartphone technology since acquiring handheld device maker E-Ten Information Systems in 2008, said Eddy Tseng, downstream tech analyst with SinoPac Securities in Taipei.

But Acer initially did not brand itself by getting its logo onto the shelves, he said. The company is expected to sell 5 million phones this year.

"Its technology isn't bad, but in the past its public relations was lacking," Tseng said. "The base is small, so to double or triple sales is something Acer can do."

Acer smartphones target a utilitarian audience and sell for less than top brands, Tseng said.

Also in Barcelona, Acer played up its flashy Liquidmini smartphones, which went on sale recenlty, and its smallish beTouch E210, which begins shipping this month.

In other consumer product areas, Acer provided details on several tablet PCs that it had announced in November.

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