Acer Liquid review: Android breed

GSMArena team, 04 February 2010.
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Liquid unpacked

Starting with the basics, in the retail box you'll find a charger, data cable and a headset. You can use your favorite headphones of course thanks to the 3.5mm audio jack. The charger connects to the phone's miniUSB port.


Liquid's retail box

The retail box also includes a 2GB microSD memory card, manuals and a CD with manual.

Acer Liquid 360-degree view

The size of the Acer Liquid is quite friendly, it measures 115 x 62.5 x 12.5 mm and weighs in at 135 grams. Tiny it isn't, but the 3.5" touchscreen is a good enough excuse and the best way to prove this is putting it alongside some of the competition. The Liquid is the size of an iPhone and much smaller than the Omnia HD.

Design and construction

The full-touchscreen form factor can be pretty limiting for manufacturers in terms of design and devices are beginning to look more and more alike with very few aesthetic distinctions. While that may be true, Acer have tried to push the envelope more than most others and the result is one very sexy Liquid. The huge touchscreen covers most of the front, while the back is pretty plain. The rounded edges certainly earn it some bonus points.


Acer Liquid • The big screen leaves the Liquid little flexibility but it looks nice next to the competition

The 3.5" capacitive touchscreen unit has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels and amazing image quality. With its type, size and resolution, you can chalk this one up as 'great' in our books.

As with the XPERIA X10, that 65K-color limitation of the Android 1.6 Donut takes its toll on some occasions, but unless it's single-color gradients that you are looking at, it won't bother you much in day-to-day usage. The default UI graphics by the way have been carefully chosen not to expose this weakness.

The sensitivity of the display is great as well - just what you'd expect in a capacitive touchscreen. You don't need a push but only a slight touch for a click to be registered. The snappy Snapdragon also plays a part as the responsiveness of a device is the screen and processing power in equal measures.

The four keys below the display are touch-sensitive and similar to the capacitive display in that they will react only to your naked fingers. They are comfortable, but unfortunately don't provide any haptic feedback. The left button serves the Home function, next is search, followed by Back and the typical Android contextual Menu.


The typical Android controls are touch-sensitive on the Liquid

Unlike the majority of first-generation Androids, Acer's Android has no dedicated Call and End keys obviously in keeping with the latest Android styling. For that purpose you can use the virtual on-screen keys instead.

The right side of the handset features the camera key and the volume rocker, which also doubles as a zoom control. Those are both painted in silver, comfortable and easy to use.


Camera and volume controls on the right

The left side of Acer Liquid features only the Power/Lock key, also finished in silver.


The Power/screen-lock key is on the left

The top of the Liquid hosts the 3.5mm audio jack and three hidden indicators - battery, messages and missed calls. From time to time, the status LED's blink with a soft white light from beneath the otherwise pitch black glossy plastic. They are very useful and give the Liquid an even more distinguished look.


The interesting top side

At the bottom of the Acer Liquid we find the miniUSB port and the mouthpiece. The connectivity port is covered by a small rubber lid to keep away dust and avoid an unnecessary gap in the otherwise smooth curved surface. Acer went for a miniUSB connectivity port on the Liquid instead of a microUSB one.


The miniUSB port is at the bottom

The back of the handset features the 5 megapixel camera lens and the loudspeaker grill. In addition, there's an Acer logo and a really huge - perhaps unnecessarily - camera class description.


The 5 megapixel camera lens and loudspeaker grill at the rear

Unfortunately, there is no protection for the camera lens, so you should be particularly careful not to scratch it. It's recessed quite a bit but any sharp objects in your pocket might get dangerously close - the Liquid doesn't come with a carrying case in the box.

The microSD card slot is under the rear cover, but you have to remove the battery itself to access it. And that means it's not hot-swappable.


To access the microSD card slot you need to remove the battery - no hot-swap is not so hot

The Acer Liquid is well built. It's all made of plastic but still feels solid in the hand. The white paintjob is quite impressive, with contrasting black front, top and bottom. Despite all that plastic, the Liquid not only feels sturdy but is quite fingerprint resistant too. Only the front panel takes on an increasingly smudgy appearance as the day goes by, but surprisingly not as much as we expected. It seems that Acer are using better glossy plastics than some of the other manufacturers.

The black version will probably prove more popular (and more of a fingerprint magnet), but white is a rare paintjob for phones and it works quite well for the Acer Liquid. White certainly doesn't make the Liquid look slimmer and smaller but it does look hot. And one thing is for sure - it feels really nice to hold.


The Acer Liquid held in hand

So, that's about it on the hardware and handling. But the Liquid goes on and we're back after the jump with the software side of the deal.

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