Acer Liquid review: Android breed
Camera interface isn't pretty but does the job
The Acer Liquid has a 5MP camera with autofocus (there is no flash, though). The photos are very good but we're afraid we can't say the same for video recording or - indeed - the interface.
The camera interface… well, there is none to speak of, really! Start the camera and you get a viewfinder with a few icons on it along with the zoom bar at the bottom. None of the icons do anything or lead anywhere though. To get to the settings you'll have to tap on the menu button.
It brings up some more buttons: Switch to camcorder, Resolution, White balance, and Settings. We were glad to discover that the Settings submenu is way more extensive compared to previous Android-based devices. Now you can actually set things like ISO, brightness, contrast, etc.
Nevertheless, the photos that come out of the Acer Liquid are fit to compete in the 5 megapixel league. There are slight signs of oversharpening but nothing major. Despite the lack of a dedicated macro mode, making close-ups is no problem.
Well, there are some obvious flaws we can't skip: color balance could be better (notice the reddish skies for example), and there is much color noise.
We also snapped our resolution chart with the Liquid. You can check out what that test is all about here.
Video recording is far from what we'd expect in a 5MP snapper. It's not the resolution (VGA is actually OK) or the frame rate (around 22fps) but the quality. The videos suffer from serious lack of detail and look as if they have been simply upsized from QVGA.
Here's a sample video to give you a better impression.
The Acer Liquid offers excellent all-round connectivity. The quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support makes the handset capable of international roaming. From then on, tri-band 3G ensures fast network data with speeds ramped up by HSDPA and HSUPA.
One of the most convenient local connectivity options - Wi-Fi - is also onboard.
Bluetooth connectivity under Android OS is no longer as crippled as before - you can easily make file transfers but you need to download a suitable app from the Marketplace (no rooting required either).
The Liquid also sports a miniUSB port. The USB mass storage mode is supported, as expected. Thanks to the Acer Sync software you can easily sync your Liquid's calendar and contacts with your computer (over-the-air syncing option with your Google account is still there as well).
Excellent web browser, save for Flash support
The Acer Liquid web browser is based on the same open source WebKit used in Chrome and Safari, and this accounts for the smooth user experience. Pages load quickly, and touch navigation is very fluid.
As you may suspect, the Android browser is fast and the interface clean. But unlike so many of its smartphone siblings, Flash support is not available.
Despite having a capacitive touchscreen, the Liquid does not support pinch zooming. You will have to rely on the two virtual zoom buttons at the bottom of the screen or on the familiar double tap routine, which works like a charm.
The browser also allows you to have multiple web pages open at the same time. If you hit the Windows button in the browser menu, you will see all the currently opened pages and you can choose which one of them to view. Switching from one page to another involves smooth transition effects.
The Android team added a rather nifty function to help you read even when you've zoomed out to the max. This is a small rectangle which acts like a magnifier and it enables you to read small portions of the microscopic web page. You can move it with your finger and sometimes it can be quite useful. But in the end, this is just another zoom option since the moment you release your finger, the magnifier disappears.
The web browser handled perfectly most of the pages we threw at it and we are very satisfied with the results. The capacitive screen coupled with the browser's performance makes surfing on the Liquid a real treat, Flash support is the only thing missing really.
There is of course a YouTube application onboard but Flash content doesn't start nor end with YouTube. At least the browser automatically suggests opening the video in the YouTube app while browsing the site. This works just for YouTube however.