Acer Liquid Metal review
We review the Acer Liquid Metal — an Android 2.2-powered device, that's pretty easy on the ol' wallet
Acer’s Liquid Metal is neither liquidy nor made of metal. But it does have a nice stainless steel backplate in sumptuous chocolate brown and droplets of water feature on the wallpaper of its user interface, called Breeze. And overall the Acer Liquid Metal is a neat little smartphone, offering a lot of goodness at a very attractive price.
The 800MHz processor is one potential chink in the armour of the Acer Liquid Metal, but in fact it did remarkably well during out testing. It didn’t run fast enough as to seem to anticipate our every screen press, but nor did it leave us hanging around as if waiting for a bus before executing our commands. It passed muster.
There is just 512MB of both ROM and RAM, which is another potential hurdle for Acer to fall at, but a 2GB microSD card covers that one off nicely.
The 3.6-inch screen is perhaps a little more difficult to deal with. Multimedia fans and inveterate mobile web users will want more by way of real estate. But even here there is good news. The resolution of 480 x 800 pixels means text is sharp even when it is very small.
Acer has pulled of a smart trick by slightly curving the screen section of the chassis. You don’t notice the curve, but the screen magically appears bright, sharp, vibrant and that little bit bigger than its 3.6 inches suggest.
The screen is capacitive and pinch to zoom worked really well being both responsive and fast. The keyboard suffers a little from being small when the screen is in portrait, but flick to landscape and it is comfortable to use with two thumbs.
Now, do you remember handsets like Sony Ericsson’s W910 with its shake control for moving between music tracks? Well, Acer has adopted the idea here, and you can shake the Liquid Metal to move back and forth in your music. We didn’t really like the system, to be honest, but we did take to another implementation of it. You can shake the Acer Liquid Metal to end an alarm too.
Where the Acer Liquid Metal will totally fall down or earn your respect is its user interface. Earlier we said it is called Breeze and it is like nothing we’ve seen before – except on the Acer Stream, actually. Breeze sits on top of Android 2.2 and while it is well featured some people might find it a bit convoluted.
You’ve got five screens that can carry widgets. You sweep between these screens in the usual way. But to get to the apps list you have to go to another screen, which is on a different ‘layer’ of the user interface.
Pull upwards at a virtual turned corner at the bottom right of a widget screen and you get to a screen that looks rather different. It is divided into three sections. About two thirds of the way down is the Android notification bar which usually sits at the top of the screen. It is quite thin, but tap at it and you get a scrolling menu offering things related to notification bar icons. You can see battery power remaining as a percentage, configure wireless and GPS, set up the Acer Liquid Metal as a portable wireless hotspot, and so on.
Above this bar two thirds of the screen shows the date and time. Sweep left and you can see a thumbnail carousel of usage history making it really easy to go back and revisit something you’ve been doing recently. Sweep right and there’s a media browser taking you to music, photos and video on the device.
At the bottom of this screen, no matter where you’ve swept to on the top section, is a set of eight app shortcuts. Sweep upwards and you get the full apps list ranged across horizontally scrolling screens. Tap and hold to drag any app into the eight shortcuts for quick access.
Among the other features Acer has included is an app called Social Jogger which collates Facebook and Twitter feeds and QuickOffice for reading, but not editing, Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents. Acer also adds its own streaming service, Spinlets, and its somewhat tedious avatar creator urFooz.
We like the three status lights that appear on the top edge of the chassis, glowing white against the chrome sides of the Acer Liquid Metal. They show battery status, messaging notifications and missed call notifications, and they’re discrete but useful.
We do have a chassis complaint, though. The back is curved so that it is narrower on the long edges than in the centre. This means it rolls about on a table as you press at the screen, which we found irritating.
The 1500mAh battery kept our review sample going for about a day and a half before needing a charge, but what you’ll get really depends on how hard you thrash the device.
Of course, at the price, the Acer Liquid Metal isn’t sitting at the top of the specifications pile. But with the usual GPS, Wi-Fi and HSDPA loitering under the hood, and an efficient if not blistering processor keeping everything running, it is quite well specified. We’re not convinced by Breeze, but you can always flick back to vanilla Android if you find it doesn’t work for you.
|Built-in Memory||512 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM|
|Additional Memory||microSD, up to 32GB|
|Screen Size||480 x 800 pixels, 3.6 inches|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP, 2592Ñ 1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash|
|Video Resolution||Yes, 720p@30fps|
|Music Formats||MP3/WAV/WMA/eAAC+ player|
|Battery Standby||Up to 450 h (2G) / Up to 550 h (3G)|