• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

It's proof of Android's success that Acer, which produces pretty clunky Windows Mobile phones, can churn out such great Android handsets. The surprise success of last year was Acer's Liquid, which is now succeeded by the Acer Liquid E , running Android 2.1.

Bag a bargain

Pick up the Acer Liquid E and it feels rather wide in your palm, and it's a shame Acer has chosen the same cheap-looking, too-glossy white plastic casing of the original Liquid. It feels flimsy, the seams are over-obvious and the ports could be smaller, too. But, we do like the 3.5-inch screen, which is great for watching movies and web browsing, thanks to its WVGA resolution. You'll find a five-megapixel lens on the back, while the side is home to silver buttons that take care of on/off, camera shutter and volume control. On top of the device is a 3.5mm audio jack.

And all is not lost on the looks front; the Acer Liquid E does retain some sense of style, thanks to the black-and-white retro design. It's a shame, though, that the touch-screen, despite being the higher-end capacitive type, is not as responsive as its counterparts on the Apple iPhone 4 or the HTC Desire. Having to tap harder for input to be recognised is pretty frustrating when typing, though not so bad if you're just navigating a menu.

While the 768MHz processor is a step down from the original Liquid's 1GHz Snapdragon chip, we're happy to report that there was no lag even with huge programmes such as Spotify, with web, maps and camera running. The Acer Liquid E loads quickly and has the benefit of ‘true' multitasking - it's possible to leave programmes loading while you open or use other ones. In common with other Android phones, you can only kill programmes if you download a task manager app. Messages and missed calls are flagged by lit icons on the top of the phone.

Handful of Aces

Along with a handful of Acer widgets, you are treated to five customisable home screens, Like its predecessor, the Acer Liquid E has a cute web widget, which shows a fan of bookmarked sites, while the media widget displays the most recent photo, tune or video.

We also like the Acer Settings app, which shows the state of Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, battery and memory. It's simple to manage - there are two icons beside each spec, one to turn it on and off, the other to adjust settings.

First-timers to downloading will be glad that Facebook and Twitter Android apps are preloaded.

We're also fans of the scrolling animation on the all-programs menu, which sees rows of icons slide over a corner, just as a sheet wraps around a cube.

We weren't so enamoured with the camera, which lacks flash, though it does have autofocus. Daylight images are okay, but there is a lack of true colour, and clarity is pretty average. Plus, too many were overexposed. The shutter is hard to click and there's a delay of a second or more before the picture is taken. The Acer Liquid E is also a bit heavy and unwieldy to be held as a camera.

True calling

Unlike many smartphones, the Acer Liquid E hasn't forgotten about the humble phone call. We are fans of the phonebook, which syncs contacts with their Facebook profile picture. Tap the picture and you'll be presented with different contact methods - email, text, call, or via Facebook. Your favourite contacts are migrated from your previous Android handset automatically, and we were thrilled to discover that you can type in the first few letters of a friend's name and a list of possible contacts pops up.

Email is excellent too. Gmail looks just as it does on a desktop, offering access to your custom folders, sent mail, drafts and trash. Non-Gmail is sent to a different inbox, which looks pretty similar, but won't allow you to access sent mail. You will be able to see HTML graphics though. Whatever mail programs you use, start typing in the address field and you'll see a list of possible contacts appear from everyone you've ever emailed. Use the preloaded RoadSync app if you want to sync Microsoft Exchange calendars and emails.

It's a shame that the touch-screen keyboard is not quick enough for fast typists, and the auto-suggest could be better. If you want to type long messages, this is not for you, but it will be okay for writing the odd Facebook post or short text. However, it's excellent at correcting grammar and incorrect contractions, and applying auto-capitalisation to a decent range of proper nouns.

Web wonder

Like its Android brothers, the Acer Liquid E is made for web browsing, thanks to a full HTML browser that loads in only five seconds. Autofit applies to non-mobile optimised sites, pictures are quick to render, and fonts show smooth edges. You can pinch to zoom as well, as the phone supports multi-touch. Mind you, we had to tap pretty hard to get input recognised.

Hold down the address bar and you'll be able to copy or share the page URL using email, text or social network. It is possible to copy and paste in the browser, but this facility doesn't work as well as it does on the iPhone and HTC Desire. To do this, hit menu, then choose ‘select text'. Next, drag your finger over the bit you want and it will be copied automatically. You can only paste this into the search bar, not into an email or text.

More useful is the ability to paste to Google Maps' search bar. Maps load speedily and the GPS fix was quickly established. However, it was off the actual location by about 50m. Android 2.1 offers voice navigation support, and the digital compass is capable of reorienting quickly. First you'll have to download an add-on to Google Maps, but the first time you try to use it, you'll be sent to the right link at Android Market.

The verdict

We can't quite believe that the Acer Liquid E is made by the same firm that gave us the neoTouch P400. Unlike the Windows Mobile goliaths, the Android phones from Acer are smooth and offer ease of use, while featuring enough software tweaks to make them stand apart from your basic Android handset. It's a shame about the unresponsive touch-screen.

Specifications

Specifications

Type of phone:

Smartphone

Style:

candy bar

Size:

115 x 62.5 x 12.5

Weight:

135 g

Display:

262,000 colours

Resolution:

480x800

Camera:

Five

Special Camera features:

auto focus

Video recording:

Yes

Video playback:

Yes

Video calling

No

Video streaming:

Yes

Music formats played:

WAV, eAAC+, WMA, MP3, MP4

3.5mm jack port:

Yes

Handsfree speakerphone:

Yes

Voice Control:

No

Voice Dialling:

No

Call records:

Practically unlimited

Phonebook:

Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photocall

Ringtones customization:

Yes

Display description:

TFT capacitive touchscreen

Website:

www.acer.co.uk

SAR:

N/A

Portfolio:

N/A

Standard color:

Black and white

Launch Status:

Coming Soon

Ringtones:

Polyphonic, MP3

Radio:

No

Operating system

Android

Connectivity:

WLAN, A2DP, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, miniUSB

Announced date:

February 2010

What's in the Box:

N/A

RAM:

512MB RAM

International launch date:

Coming soon

Battery life when playing multimedia:

N/A

CPU:

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8250 768 MHz processor

FM Radio Description:

N/A

Internal memory:

512 MB RAM

Memory Card Slot:

microSD

Messaging:

MMS, SMS, IM, Email

Internet Browser

HTML

E-mail client:

N/A

GPS:

A-GPS

Java:

Yes

Games:

Yes

Data speed:

HSDPA

Frequency:

Quad-band

Talktime:

300

Standby:

400

Display size:

3.5

Keypad:

QWERTY

Audio recording:

Yes

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