Acer Liquid review

News Editor 14:32, 4 Jan 2010

We review the Acer Liquid, Acer's first foray into the Android arena

We’ve waited quite a while for Acer’s promised Android handset to surface, having had to make do, in the mean time, with a slew of Windows Mobile phones from the company.

But now the Liquid is with us. It has some very good points, not least a bright, large screen and 3.5mm earphone slot. But it also has a few annoyances, one of which being a camera that leaves something to be desired.

Acer also needs to pay a bit more attention to its user interface design. Currently HTC leads the way here, and all the others are simply playing catch-up.

Early rumours suggested the Liquid would have a 1GHz processor. These have proved unfounded, but the 768MHz underclocked Snapdragon on offer seem perfectly adequate. The Liquid doesn't seem to have any trouble running multiple applications.

If you are a fan of larger screens, then the one here should keep you happy. It measures 3.5-inches across diagonal corners, and its resolution of 400x800 pixels ensures that everything is sharp, crisp and bright.

The screen is capacitive which means that in theory it should be a good responder. We found this to be true as far as finger sweeps and taps are concerned, less so where the touch sensitive keyboard is concerned.

Despite the large screen size the keyboard is a little small to use when in tall mode. In wide mode it is a lot more comfortable to tap at keys, but without haptic feedback you're never quite sure if you've made contact. We had to go at about 70 percent of our usual handheld typing speed to be sure of accuracy. Oh, and there’s no multitouch support, so no pinch to zoom and suchlike.

That large screen does mean that the Acer Liquid is fairly sizeable for the hand and the pocket. It measures 115x64x12.75mm and weighs 135g. If your hands are small you may find it difficult to reach all the way across the screen with your thumb.

While much of the front of the Liquid is black, its long sides and back are bright shiny white. We rather like the look but there's no escaping the plastic build materials which won't appeal to all.

We found the side buttons (camera and volume on the right, power on the left) are a bit fiddly to use as they are on the underside of a severely curved bezel. You do get used to it, but in the early days finding the buttons can be a slight challenge.

Beneath the screen sits a row of four flat touch-buttons. One takes you to the home screen, one is a search button, one is a back button and the fourth is Android’s context sensitive menu button. These four buttons are responsive as long as you give them a definite prod. Very gently tapping at them is sometimes not effective.

There are no Call and End buttons, but out of the box there is a shortcut on the main screen to the dialler so their absence is not really a problem.

There’s a real gem of a design feature in the top mounted lights. The black plastic here sports a white battery charge indicator when you are charging, a white light to indicate incoming messages and another for missed calls. Innovative and simple, we like them all.

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