A few weeks ago we got the dual sim Gallant Duo in for review from Acer and ever since I have been using it to try and find what’s good and what’s bad. In our initial impressions I was impressed with Acer and their handling of the dual sim workings inside, I was also impressed with the solid build of the device. The odd placement of the power button left me a little confused was it quirky and innovative or just damn annoying? I just couldn’t decide.
Here are my good and bad points for the device:
- Well built
- Dual SIM slot
- Dual SIM software well implemented
- MicroSD slot
- Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich
- Onscreen softkeys
- Budget pricing
- SRS Sound
- Root available thanks to Modaco
- A little laggy once in a while
- qHD screen
- dull screen
- 5mp camera
- Odd placed power button
- Acer upgrade process (only their tablets seem to get updates)
So lets have a more in depth look at the Acer Liquid Gallant Duo.
The Gallant Duo is a nice looking device and has a few little details that really make it feel like a more expensive phone. The overall solid feel is nice, combined with the soft touch back panel it’s really good. The speaker grill detailing on the back at the bottom is interesting. The lack of capacitive buttons at the bottom is nice, I wish more manufacturers used onscreen keys as it opens up contextual buttons to the apps, sometimes buttons detract from the look.
It’s not all good though. The little notch to remove the back plate is a little fiddly to grab hold off. One big thing that I’ve been struggling with was the power button. Whether I’ve just been using Samsung and Nokia devices for too long now I’m not sure, but I just can’t get used to the power button on the back panel. I’ve tried, but there is something handy about being able to lay a phone down on a desk and now and again press the middle home button to see if you any missed notifications. With the Gallant Duo you need to pickup the phone and stop trying to press the camera lense and press the power button.
Acer have at least included a small led which illuminates for charging and flashes for notifications. So my problem is sort of alleviated.
The finger on the camera lense is another problem. If you are one of those greasy finger types then you are going to have to clean your camera lense now and again. Try as I might I kept pressing the lense in an attempt to turn it on.
Compared to similarly priced devices it feels a lot more solid and it doesn’t feel cheap, only the screen covered in fingerprints and grease let it down in the looks department.
The spec of the Gallant Duo is pretty decent, most of the boxes are ticked with things people want. I.E. MicroSD, removable battery, dual SIM and a decent internal memory. It really does make for a complete package, Acer really have done well here. The only thing that could be improved upon would be the CPU, people want dual core at least these days, the Gallant handles day to day life admirably but people expect things like that these days. But for the price you can’t complain.
The quality of the screen and the brightness levels also started to become annoying after a few days, take the phone outdoors and it became almost unusable. Turning the brightness up to the max helped a bit. The screen also gets quite greasy with fingerprints and required regular cleaning up. I found that the 4.3″ screen seems to be my sweet spot as regards screen size and I really enjoyed using it for games, web browsing and multi media without a hitch.
I wish more manufacturers would use oleophobic coatings on their screens, like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus does. Fingerprints sort of disappear after a while on that.
The lack of front facing camera is also disappointing. I guess it’s one of those things that got cut to meet the price point.
The spec for the Gallant is as follows:
- Dimensions – 129 x 65.9 x 9.9 mm
- Weight – 145 g
- Display – 4.3″ TFT qHD (540×960) (256 ppi)
- MicroSD slot
- Internal memory – 4 GB storage, 1 GB RAM
- Camera – 5 MP autofocus, LED flash
- Front Facing Camera – No
- Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- Chipset – MTK 6575
- CPU 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A9
- GPU PowerVR SGX531
- GPS with A-GPS support
- Colour – Gentle Black or Ceramic White
- Dual SIM
- Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
- Battery – Li-Ion 1500 mAh
With the software Acer have really excelled. The Gallant Duo runs basically stock Ice Cream Sandwich. With only a few extra apps installed and strangely some tweaked icons in the settings menu.
One thing Acer have done well is the dual SIM functionality and this is the area where you will notice changes. If you think about a phone using two SIM cards you start to wonder how you would like it to work and Acer seem to have put a lot of thought into how they want it to work. Most scenarios are catered for. The SIM Management section in the settings allows you to configure the setup to your own needs. You can even associate specific contacts to be used by a specific SIM and also you can track data usage across both SIM cards. Lots of little tweaks really help you get the most out of the phone. Here are some shots of how it looks:
Both SIMs will receive calls and you choose which SIM card you want to make calls with, if you set the “Voice call” setting to be “Always ask” then each time you go to make it will ask you which SIM to use, you can also pick a specific SIM here and it will not ask you. You can do the same thing with the “Messaging” side of things here. Data is handled a little differently, you pick one of the SIMs and that is the one it uses you can then swap to the other one via the settings if you want to. I guess separating every single bit of data going through the phone is difficult. Also why you would want two data flows at once I’m not sure.
Back in the normal part of the phone everything is pretty much stock Android, Acer have tweaked the settings list icons and they have also added a few basic apps to the build as well, one thing that caught my attention was an app called “TruMedia” which basically set us SRS Sound. It is basically just a graphic equalizer, but handy to have built in.
Another area Acer have applied their will is with the Lockscreen, they have added a screen called “Shutter” which opens up like a blind when you swipe across it. Shutter also has four changeable shortcuts at the bottom of the screen. I find it really handy having these on the lockscreen, especially for the camera or SMS.
Acer have added some basic widgets to the build, giving you a few clocks, weather widgets and a contacts widget. All pretty basic but it will allow most people to set it out of the box without having to worry about installing more widgets.
Acer have also added a power bar in the drop down notification area, which is nice. A swipe from right to left reveals shortcuts to the quick profiles as well. It is little things like this that really help the Gallant Duo punch above it’s weight.
Here are a few random screens that don’t quite fit in anywhere.
The Gallant Duo lends itself to many things one of those being Multi Media. Listening to music is a pleasant experience using headphones as the speaker isn’t the best, but there is no hiss and it is plenty loud enough, the SRS stuff allows you to configure the levels as well. BBC iPlayer and YouTube worked without a glitch, the new BBC Media Player app seems to have fixed any Android Flash problems.
The 5MP camera I found to be acceptable, as usual in low light expect awful photos even when using the flash, but outdoors the photos are quite nice. The camera has an auto focus and offers burst shorts and panorama mode, plus it has a range of effects like Sepia or Mono.
The Thing that may concern some people is Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Acer aren’t the quickest or most open about their upgrade schedule, I’ll just say I would be surprised if this did get an upgrade.
Battery life is a concern, at 1500 mAH you aren’t going to get outstanding all day life. You are going to have to plug it in now and again or wait for a third party to sell spare batteries online.
As the stock launcher is a little limited in what it can do I thought I would try out a few alternatives and boy did it not like them. The lag running Apex or Nova was unpleasant and I quickly reverted back to stock, it’s little things like that, that remind you you’re running a single core 1GHz CPU, other times I noticed lag was during mass Play Store update sessions or if I had a few games loitering in the background.
Overall the Gallant Duo is a great phone, for the money it can really make a difference to the busy mobile workers life. The modding community has already worked wonders on it so if you like to have root on your phone then you’re in luck. For me it would need to have a brighter screen, a dual core CPU and a bigger battery. But that wouldn’t cost £162.99.
Let’s hope this dual SIM thing starts to take off, as the last few weeks using the Gallant Duo has been quite good fun.