The Acer Liquid Metal has been out for a few months now, at the time of writing you could get one for £263 which puts it the same sort of price bracket as the Motorola Defy and the Samsung Galaxy Ace. So first of all we shall have a look at some pictures of the device. One thing you may notice is the lack of metal. The battery cover is the only metal part. I apologise in advance for my photography skills.
Qualcomm MSM 7230-1, 800 MHz
HSDPA / HSUPA
512mb Ram, 512mb Rom,
3.6″ WVGA TFT screen,
5.0 Megapixel camera with auto focus,
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Dimensions 115x63x13.5 mm
Weight 135 g (with battery)
There is a second microphone for noise cancelling (you can see it on the back of the phone near the camera).
Call clarity was good compared to my Desire z.
It has a proper camera button.
Along the top of the device are some notification indicators that flash through the reflective plastic so you can see them whilst it is in the case.
Underneath the battery cover are several metal contacts (pictured below) that sit in contact with the metal of the back panel; I am guessing this is to boost the antenna (it does not lose signal without the cover).
Battery life on the Acer is great as well. I easily got a whole day out of it. That was with regular Twitter updates, emails, web browsing and phone calls. Unlike some of the latest HTC devices that need charging a few times a day.
The screen is convex, which makes it harder to touch the right thing. Using the built in software keyboard was terrible, Swiftkey’s error correction made it a lot more usable but still not perfect.
The large bezel made the screen feel a lot smaller in use compared to other similar sized screens.
Internal memory is a problem as it only has 512mb that is mostly filled with the os. So after a few weeks of installing things you will have to start to deciding what you do not need.
The camera uses the standard Android camera app, compared to other 5mp cameras it does not take as detailed shots.
The software on this phone has two different personalities. The default is the Acer Breeze ui and the stock Android ui is the other. I will look at both of these areas so you can get a better idea of the device.
Acer Breeze Interface
Acer has applied a skin to Android, much the same way as Motorola, Samsung and HTC do. Acer have took the idea of a launcher and turned it on its head. You start off with the lock screen, it has five pages each of which you can swipe from left to right on. This is where you add widgets as well, the middle page has a clock, weather and unread message notifications and you can add any other widgets you may have installed to the other four pages. To interact with these widgets you tap on the widget and swipe up on the popup. To unlock you have a nice animation of turning the page in a book. As you can see below the status bar is at the bottom.
The homescreen has the notification bar about a third of the way up the screen, there is no obvious app draw button and you get eight shortcuts in the bottom half of the screen. It does have a few tricks up its sleeve though, for instance if you swipe from left to right at the top of the screen you get large thumbnail views of previously used programs. Swipe from right to left and you get a multi media view to access your photos, music and videos. If you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to the top the app drawer opens, from here you can change the eight shortcuts to other apps, just a quick press and hold to remove and press and hold an app from the drawer and drag it to the new area. You also get nice popup bubbles on the notification bar allowing you to control connections, messages, alarms etc.
Acer have included some of extra apps as well, SocailJogger is a Facebook and Twitter client, Nemoplayer is a media player, Media Server is a DLNA server for your phone, Widgets is an app to let you edit the lockscreen widget set up, Home Decor is a wallpaper app, you get a few sync apps for exchange servers, Spinlets is a music streaming service and urFooz is an avatar creation app. None of these are really that great, they just take up valuable internal memory.
Stock Android Interface
If you do not like the Acer Breeze Interface you can easily turn it off via Settings> Applications> User interface> and pick Android UI. This then reboots the phone without Breeze and uses the stock Android UI. This allows you to have five homescreens that you can fill with any installed widgets and shortcuts. Again Acer has included a few little extras to make things a bit more interesting. They have included two widgets that only work on the stock launcher, these are Media player and Web player. These widgets cling to the side of a screen and allow you to scroll through your web bookmarks or pictures/music/videos. There are some other widgets that work on Breeze and stock such as Nemoplayer and SocialJogger. With Breeze turned off I felt a lot more at home, I certainly spent less time turning the device off and back on again to get to the lockscreen to use a widget! Using an alternative launcher like Launcher Pro or ADW Launcher the device felt a lot speedier but I could not use any of the Acer widgets at all.
The Acer Liquid Metal is a great device for the money. Compared to the Motorola and Galaxy Ace it would be difficult which to choose. The Acer is easily rootable, has a fairly active community creating roms for it. An official Gingerbread rom was leaked the other week so Acer is obviously going to be supporting this device for a while. Out of the box the Acer seemed a little alien to me, the Breeze ui seemed a bit topsy turvy they seemed to have spent time and money recreating something that did not really did not need fixing. The screen and the default keyboard were also a struggle, but once I had installed a better keyboard things were good.
Once I had installed the latest official firmware it achieved a Quadrant score of 1076 which is only just lower than other mid range Android 2.2 devices. It played Angry Birds Rio as well without any problems, which is sometimes a benchmark of how good a device is (I’m looking at the Wildfire here). I installed Adobe Flash and embed videos on sites worked without a problem. So if you want a fairly basic device that will not break the bank and needs some tinkering with, then this is for you.