Acer Liquid review

£320
Price when reviewed

We don’t much care for the black and white colour scheme of Acer’s latest smartphone, but unlike the company’s last few handsets, the Liquid is at least competent. Its previous phones were clunky Windows Mobile efforts, and the sleek touchscreen Liquid is a world apart.

In fact, look past the colour and you’ll find the Liquid is quite attractive in an understated sort of way. Its top and bottom edges gently curve, and this contrasts rather nicely with the subtly sculpted long straight edges.

The face of the phone is likewise elegantly flat, with nothing but four touch-sensitive controls below the screen to interrupt the flow. On the sides are the Liquid’s only physical buttons, and these offer volume, camera and power controls. Along the top edge, a series of symbols glow into life to show battery life status and indicate when new emails arrive.

It looks good, and it feels nice to hold as well, but how is it to use? In one word: snappy, and the reason for this is simple. Under the Liquid’s milk-white skin sits a Snapdragon processor – not the 1GHz beast beating at the heart of HTC’s oversized Touch HD2, but a slightly slower 768MHz model.

This, nonetheless, makes the phone feel a good deal more responsive than most Android or Symbian phones we’ve used; and as long as you download a killer application to keep on top of background tasks (we’ve found Task Manager does the trick nicely), it will remain that way.

Indeed, our performance measurements backed up our initial gut feeling. With the cache cleared on the Android browser, we were able to load the BBC homepage over Wi-Fi in an average of eight seconds – on a par with the lightning-quick Apple iPhone 3GS. As expected, the standards-based Acid3 test returned a score of 93, which is lower than that achieved by Apple’s finest, but on a par with most other Android phones.

The 3.5in screen is lovely too. It’s vividly colourful and boasts a bright enough backlight to provide a truly impressive range of adjustment. If you need the brightness up high for outdoor use, it will go high enough to be readable on a clear day, and it’s good enough even at low brightness settings to be readable indoors.

Acer Liquid rear

The resolution of 480 x 800 is right quite up there with the best the smartphone world has to offer too, better than that of the iPhone 3GS. More important than the pixels, however, is that it’s a capacitive touchscreen and this, mated with the snappy performance, means the Liquid is an excellent phone on which to browse the web.

There are even a few handy software extras: Acer’s Sync service is particularly good, allowing you to mix and match synchronisation with both Outlook and Google contacts and calendar; and there are also a couple of custom carousel-style widgets that allow you to flip, card-file style, through videos and photos.

Elsewhere, the specification reads like a familiar pub lunch menu: quad-band GSM, HSDPA, 5-megapixel camera, accelerometer, proximity sensor, light sensor, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

It’s not all good news, though. Although it looks nice, the thin plastic battery cover means it just doesn’t feel as luxurious as the iPhone, and we’re not too keen on the buttons along the side, which are difficult to press without contorting the fingers.

The camera, meanwhile, is merely average, and with no form of flash to help it out in low light it isn’t capable of producing usable snaps indoors. And battery life is merely average, retaining 50% capacity after our 24-hour set test, which involves an hour of screen on, an hour of music playback, 30 minutes of phone calls and a 50MB download. Finally, you’ll need to upgrade the Android screen keyboard to something better if you want to retain your sanity while typing.

Details

Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £25.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider Orange

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 5hrs
Standby, quoted 17 days

Physical

Dimensions 64 x 12.75 x 115mm (WDH)
Weight 135.000kg
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 256MB
ROM size 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Front-facing camera? no
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 3.5in
Resolution 480 x 800
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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