The Liquid is Acer’s best looking handset to date, although its glossy plastic chassis is still a tad oversized.
The user interface is easy to navigate but the touch-screen has sluggish qualities – namely that if you want to punctuate your text be prepared for extra clicks.
With an Android OS, the Liquid is primed for internet and loads of extra features are possible thanks to the downloadable apps available, but the phone itself doesn’t really offer anything more than other Android handsets.
Internet was speedy and it is quick at multitasking, but the laborious touch-screen keyboard meant messaging functionality was sluggish.
Better than average battery life.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:57:10 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Good touch-screen, Facebook integration, applications load quickly, display is good for web browsing and movies
Sluggish on-screen keyboard, lack of useful preloaded apps or widgets
It took several handsets, but Acer's found its groove with the Liquid. Well, kind of. The PC manufacturer’s first Android smartphone is a high-spec, slick looking bit of kit, but that’s really down to the fluidity of the Android OS, which plumps for all the standard smartphone goodies like a tonne of free apps, full sync to Google services and a nice, easy user interface.
The Liquid is one of the faster smartphones around, with a 768MHz Snapdragon processor whizzing along in its slightly oversized, glossy plastic chassis, along with a 3.5-inch high-res capacitive touch-screen (that’s the good kind) and five-megapixel camera. The screen is made of tempered glass like the iPhone and feels just as smooth, while four touch-sensitive controls sit beneath the screen. Though the Liquid is definitely the most stylish handset Acer has put out, there’s still something vaguely unsexy about it – maybe it’s the slightly protruding lens (which does have auto-focus, in its favour), three rather large vents of the (tinny) on-board speaker, and the very obvious seams between the back cover and the rest of the phone. It doesn’t help that instead of sliding off the back cover, we had to prise it off with enough force to injure an errant thumb.Setting up the phone to sync your contacts, calenders and email is simple if you use Gmail or are on the Microsoft Exchange server – just type in your email address and, in the case of Exchange, fire up the preloaded RoadSync app, and the phone is ready for over-the-air syncing. It’s a little more problematic if you use Outlook, but aren’t on Exchange. A third-party app is required to manually sync your phone and PC via USB, but Acer doesn’t make one readily available, which is surprising, considering its long relationship with Microsoft.
The actual phone interface is a very familiar Android look, with three customisable home screens and several preloaded widgets. There isn’t much Acer added-value, but what there is, we like – one ‘media’ home screen displays your last played song, photo or video in a stylish fan of ‘cards’, while the other incorporates the same fan-shaped widget for your web bookmarks. Thanks to its beefy processor, the phone loaded applications quickly, and was able to run multiple ones without noticeable lag. Android phones seem to all boast a great touch-screen, and the Liquid is no exception, as navigating the phone is slick and smooth via light swipes and taps. Unfortunately, Acer just hasn’t managed to nail the touch-screen keyboard, which is slow to respond and often missed out letters. There’s no auto-correct where the right word is slotted in for you; only auto-suggest, so you’d have to actually type on a suggestion to input it. In fact, it’s only a spellcheck system, not a touch-screen optimised system that actually corrects based on the nearby letters. At least the comma and full stop are both on the main screen, but if you use any other symbols on a second screen, spacebar doesn’t move you back to alphabet, making for extra clicks per message. Like we said, the screen is slick enough in other functions, but it just won’t do if you’re a heavy emailer or texter.
Like all Android phones, the Liquid is primed for internet, and its browser loads all pages in full with good picture rendering. We tested its speed over a Wi-Fi connection and most pages loaded in under 10 seconds. Each window maximises screen real estate with just an auto-fit button with zoom keys, and you can switch between multiple windows displayed in a grid. The five-megapixel camera is decent in good lighting, though there’s no flash so low light shots are almost impossible. Once you snap the photo, you can MMS or email it, or upload it to Facebook or Picasa. The official Facebook app for Android is pretty anaemic, but Acer has done a little extra software magic and integrated both Facebook and Picasa so that you can sync contact info from both into your phonebook.
There isn’t enough bonus material from Acer to make the Liquid our Android phone of choice. The standard of smartphones running on Google’s powerful OS is high, and the Liquid hurdles it, but only just. Though its high-speed chip means applications load quickly and multitasking was better than most, the sluggish touch-screen keyboard will be a dealbreaker for many, us included.