Ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in the hand, the Acer Liquid Metal feels great, and it’s curved dimensions and metallic finish means it looks smart too
As Acer has introduced its own UI to the Liquid Metal, it will take some getting used to, but there’s nothing too daunting here
Wi-Fi, HSDPA, A-GPS, a five-megapixel camera complete with DVD-quality video recording and an excellent social networking integration setup are some of the highlights
Thanks to the excellent Android Froyo operating system the Acer Liquid Metal is a top performer, though perhaps it would have benefited from a more powerful processor
With 480 minutes talktime and 550 hours standby, the Acer Liquid Metal offers a decent battery life
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:59:56 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Acer?s SocialJogger is an innovative way of keeping up to speed with the latest social networking news
The fact you can?t drag and drop specific icons onto the various home screens may deter some more faithful Android users
Acer has been banging on the door of mobile credibility for a while now. Striving to prove that they’re more than just a computing brand, it’s been a case of two steps forward, one step back. However, slowly but surely, Acer’s day in the sun appeared imminent, and with the Acer Liquid Metal that day may have just arrived.
As with its predecessor the Liquid E, the Acer Liquid Metal has a curved design with an emphasis on smooth rather than sharp edges, although these are coated with a metallic trim. However, while the Liquid E felt plastic and flimsy, the Liquid Metal is far sleeker and tougher. It’s designed to fit ergonomically in the hand, and we must say it did feel pretty comfy. The ‘metal’ aspect, along with the aforementioned trim, refers to the aluminium battery cover that encompasses a large area on the back of the phone. While it gives the handset a classy look and feel, we were slightly concerned about how hot the cover got when charging the device.The Acer Liquid Metal’s touch-screen display measures 3.6-inches and is the preferred capacitive variety. It’s extremely responsive, with a short vibrating pulse each time your digit presses an icon on screen or hits a key on the virtual QWERTY keyboard. It’s also impressively colourful, with up to 16 million different shades at its disposal.
This is the first Acer handset to run on Android 2.2 Froyo. We’ll discuss the benefits of this excellent operating system shortly, but first let us applaud the way in which Acer has coated the Liquid Metal with its own skin. Of course, Acer isn’t the first manufacturer to provide its own take on Android, which makes it even more thrilling to discover that the Taiwanese manufacturer has taken a completely new approach. For example, when the phone is locked, you can still swipe between five different home screens, each with various icons and shortcuts displayed. Click on any of these icons and you’ll be prompted to unlock the screen by swiping up before being navigated directly into that feature. This applies to all features apart from the music player, which bizarrely you can use by pressing play even when the phone is locked – so don’t be surprised if a tune suddenly starts blasting from your pocket. To access the main menu while your phone is locked, you’ll need to peel open the dog-eared page at the bottom left of the screen. It’s a cute take on unlocking a screen and looks pretty cool too.Once the screen is unlocked, you’re reduced to three home screens. The first is the main home screen that displays the date and time, the second houses links to all your media; music, video and downloads, while the third displays in a 3D sequence thumbnails of your most recently used or viewed features and pages. Click on any of them and you’ll instantly return to that screen. Present among all three of these home screens are eight menu icons that sit along the bottom of the display in two rows of four. These icons can be customised so as to include your most used features, but some users may be deterred by the fact you can’t drag and drop your favourite icons and shortcuts directly onto the home screen. To access the rest of your menu you’ll need to drag this eight icon area upwards. Though the eight icons will remain stationary, everything below can be swiped from side to side, with any applications you download from the Android market being added accordingly. Sitting directly above this drag out menu is the notifications bar, which as well as highlighting any messages or emails you might receive, also provides access to your various GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings. We have to admit that we did find it a little fiddly, accidentally dragging the menu list open on more than one occasion.
Something else that Acer has strived to make its own is its social networking integration. Again, there’s nothing new with synching all your contacts, Facebook updates and Tweets into a single news feed, but Acer’s SocialJogger takes another innovative approach. Once logged into your various social networking accounts, a virtual jog wheel positioned on the right hand side of the screen will enable you to flick between them in a clockwise or anticlockwise motion. You can decipher what info is shown from the latest photos or links posted by your friends, yourself or your entire Facebook and Twitter feeds. You can even add a specific friend’s feed – great for all you virtual stalkers out there. Yet here’s the really cool bit, though you can turn the jog wheel manually, you can also auto-play it, choosing the speed in which you want it to turn. The feeds are a little on the small side, so you may have to actually click on some individually to read them in their entirety, but on the whole we tip our hats to Acer’s attempt at social networking integration.As brushed upon, the Liquid Metal runs on Android 2.2. Not only does this mean you can enjoy Flash video (though we did need to download the necessary application from the Android Market), you’ll also have the ability to save your apps onto a microSD card (though you’ll have to purchase this separately) and turn your Acer Liquid Metal into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Apparently, everything will run five times faster than devices on Android 2.1 too. However, while the Liquid Metal is no slouch, we’re not convinced of this margin. It also took far longer to establish an A-GPS fix than we would have liked or expected, perhaps due to Liquid Metal only carrying an 800 MHz processor. That said, once established, the navigation process was top notch, with Google’s latest mapping solutions, including voice navigation for both drivers and pedestrians on-board, though again we had to download the necessary (free) app from the Android Marketplace.
Acer has been somewhat candid with the Liquid Metal. While it’s without question the manufacturer’s best mobile phone to date, it still faces fierce competition from more established heavyweights like Apple, Samsung and HTC. These more recognised brands can offer consumers better equipped handsets, but Acer has an ace up its sleeve. The Liquid Metal is available for £299 SIM-free. When you consider the cost of the competition; iPhone 4 (£499), Samsung Galaxy S (£400) and the HTC Desire HD (£499), the Acer Liquid Metal suddenly gains even more appeal.