This is a preview of the upcoming Acer Liquid Gallant. Full review coming soon!
We had a chance to check out a preview model of Acer’s Liquid Gallant smartphone, an affordable 4.3-inch Android mobile, ahead of its official UK release later this year. We actually tested the Duo version, featuring dual SIM card slots, and these are our early thoughts.
Where’s the buttons?
The Acer Liquid Gallant is a chunky little mobile, coming in at 1cm thick and weighing 145g. It feels solid in every respect although we were a little concerned the white plastic backing could get easily scuffed: thankfully this wasn’t the case for us, as any marks were quickly and easily rubbed off.
Crack open that rear and you’ll find a Micro SD memory card slot, dual SIM card slots (in case you want to have your work and personal numbers on the same phone) and a removable 1500 mAh battery. The edges of the phone are surprisingly bare: aside from a volume toggle on the right side and a USB/3.5mm audio jack on top, the rest is simply brushed metallic plastic. No physical buttons on the front of the phone either – the Home, Back and Recent App buttons are on-screen virtual efforts.
“But where’s the power button?” you’re probably yelling at your screen. Well, Acer has tucked it away on the back of the Liquid Gallant, next to the camera lens. We soon got used to this unusual positioning, but at first we were blindly probing and prodding the right edge every time we wanted to turn the phone on. Ho hum.
Swipe to open
We love the neat sliding action to unlock the phone, which causes the lock screen to split and rotate, revealing the desktop behind. It’s a simple, neat little effect that’s unique to the Liquid Gallant. Android Ice Cream Sandwich is installed as default, giving you seven desktops to fill with apps and widgets, and it all ran perfectly smoothly despite the basic 1GHz processor. The Liquid Gallant offers all of the major settings right there on the notifications tab too: yank it down and you can quickly change the screen brightness and timeout, change your profile settings and toggle battery-sappers like Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi.
Swipe left to right to rotate the lock screen and bring up the desktop
The 4.3-inch screen is reflective in sunlight but also reasonably bright, so we didn’t have too much trouble reading emails or texts while walking around. From what we’ve seen, it’s also reasonably colourful if not razor sharp. We enjoyed breezing through some YouTube clips and iPlayer videos, and we could comfortably read website text even when zoomed out.
Typing out messages was also a breeze thanks to the excellent virtual keyboard. Every key comes with an alternative character (numbers and symbols) for fast and easy access – no hunting around through menus for that elusive exclamation point. You can also quickly turn on Swype mode, which allows you to drag your finger from key to key for even speedier word entry.
The 5MP camera on our preview model had a few issues, so hopefully the one we see on the final model will be more refined. Shots were captured relatively quickly but there is a lengthy pause (around five seconds) as the phone saves the photo before it’s ready to take another. And although the auto-focus does an admirable job, we found we had to occasionally tap the screen to manually focus, to sort out the light balance. Without this, our shots would have been either too dark or too bright.
Most of our snaps looked fine (if unremarkable) when viewed back on a monitor, with the occasional fuzzy one that we had to discard. You get the usual array of settings to tweak, from contrast to environmental settings, and you can shoot HD video as well as take a panorama snap.
The early verdict
If the final Acer Liquid Gallant resolves the camera issues, this could be a nifty little mid-range mobile. The dual SIM card slots are perfect for those who mix business with pleasure, and Android Ice Cream Sandwich runs as smooth as you’d hope. We’re looking forward to testing out the finished product...