Today, historic UK computer brand Acorn announced a 40th Anniversary release - the Acorn Micro Phone C5. Acorn's success in the public eye began with the BBC Micro in the 1980s, continued with the Archimedes, and spawned the hugely successful Arm chip design company, now owned by Japan's Softbank.
The Acorn Micro Phone C5 is the firm's first smartphone. However, its current product pages list several Android and Windows laptops and convertibles, tablets and mobile accessories, all highlighted as 'coming soon' - so this isn't a one-off plan to (re)use the Acorn brand.
Turning to the specs for the Micro Phone C5, what is described as a feature packed, flagship Android handset, is actually what most would call mid-range nowadays. The following key tech specs are listed:
- Processor: MediaTek MT6750T Octa-core with Mali T850 MP2 GPU
- Memory: 3GB DDR3 RAM, 32GB storage, microSD slot
- Screen: 5.72-inch IPS screen with 1440 x 720 pixels, coated with 1.3mm Asahi Dragontail glass
- Cameras: 13MP and 2MP rear utilising Sony IMX258 1/3.06-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor. 8MP and 2MP selfie camera setup. Dual rear-flash, single front flash
- Connectivity / sensors: Dual SIM (mini and nano) 4G, 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, micro USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, various sensors, GPS, fingerprint reader
- Power: 3000mAh, charges via USB
- Physical: 153 x 71 x 9mm, 132g
- OS: Android Nougat with Google Play Store
With added nostalgia
Beyond the above specs, in its press release the existing Acorn Computers team play on nostalgic feelings, with lots of historical background given about the company, and it states how "today, Acorn aims to become one of the UK’s favourite names in consumer electronics". The Acorn Micro Phone C5 is "inspired by the team from the 1980's" we are told. Furthermore, Acorn intends to be "at the forefront of the tech industry in the UK", and "lets consumers buy British".
With the above statements taken on face value it is disappointing to discover that the Acorn Micro Phone C5 is basically the Chinese Leagoo S8 with a few cosmetic tweaks. The most significant changes that I can find are an Acorn soft-keyboard, and an Acorn logo on the back of the phone above a little British flag.
In the small print at the end of its IndieGogo funding page Acorn does admit that the phone is "assembled and packed in China". Its ultimate goal is to bring manufacturing to the UK. This smartphone is being crowd funded simply to "ensure we meet minimum order quantities for the first production batch," as well as to rekindle Acorn product loyalty in the UK.
If you are interested in the Acorn Micro Phone C5 there is still a chance to back the IndieGogo project to the tune of £95 as an 'early bird' special. The project has still a month to run but has a long way to go to raise its target £450,000, as it has only raised £800 so far (day 1) at the time of writing. Meanwhile the Leagoo S8 costs about US$140 via Aliexpress.