Acer liquid e

Android has opened the door to all and sundry to enter the smartphone world, but whereas their natural competitors Dell went all out with the smartphone/tablet hybrid Streak device, Acer has chosen to create a decent device and just let Android speak for itself.

The Streak boasted a brilliant, premium design and, even though it was only Android 1.6, added a great skin to the OS giving the device a great deal of character and identity. All in all, that's a much better smartphone.

We liked

Android 2.1 is a reason to like any phone, and thanks to an excellent hi-res display, largely responsive touchscreen and a way-above-average processing speed, makes using it an enjoyable experience.

The screen really is up there with some of the better handsets on the market, colours are bright and vibrant, while icons are detailed and text is reproduced excellently, even when zoomed in all the way.

The 768MHz Snapdragon processor ticks both the like and dislike boxes. We like it because it adds a real zip to proceedings.

Apps open quickly and transitions between screens are smooth. Nothing ever crashes on this device, and there's never really any lag.

But why is it underclocked? Just let it rip, for heaven's sake – although battery life is clearly already an issue, so maybe that's not the best idea.

The touchscreen didn't cause us any problems either. While it's not as instantly responsive as the top-end handsets, it still obeyed our demands over 90 per cent of the time, only really struggling with smaller icons.

In terms of the Android OS, there's plenty to like. It enables the Liquid E to be a great browsing device, social networking phone and mobile sat nav. It has an app store second only to the App Store. Live wallpapers are also cool.

In terms of custom Acer functionality, we do like the NemoPlayer and Bookmarks scroll wheel Home screen widgets, and the gallery and geotagging features are fabulous.

We disliked

The Acer Liquid E is a lazy release from the company, serving up exactly the same design with exactly the same camera, and functionality, while only boasting an update it didn't create itself.

Android 2.1 is something to shout about, but this is something that could have been handled in a firmware upgrade, but the trouble is there'd be no-one to download it. We understand the move, but why not do something with the hardware to save a little face?

We absolutely despised using the messaging app on this phone, and couldn't wait to plonk the SIM back into our now-sluggish HTC Hero. It's terrible and using it filled us with trepidation.

The design, while endearing with it's Stormtrooper-esque appearance is no Darth Vader-like iPhone 4 both in looks and functionality. The battery life is also absolutely abysmal.

Verdict

In terms of hardware, design and specs, the Liquid E is no match whatsoever for the top ranked iPhone 4 and HTC Desire phones, but is a capable second-tier player that can definitely compete with the likes of the Nokia N900 and Motorola Dext phones.

It's nowhere near as good as the Xperia X10, Palm Pre Plus, HTC Legend or Dell Streak handsets, either.

Acer is not a recognised smartphone name and its reputation for producing quality laptops isn't such that this phone was ever going to make a splash at a time when there are more quality phones than ever before. The Liquid S100 didn't. The Liquid E won't.

However, any phone boasting Android 2.1 is worth a look, and when it's backed up by a fine hi-res screen and a fast processor you can't go that far wrong. This is a good and capable handset, make no mistake.

We're just a little disappointed in the lack of effort Acer has put into making this phone its own, or improving on the original Liquid S100 beyond the upgrade from 1.6 to 2.1.

We've seen much worse Android phones than this but can't hand-on-heart recommend it. It could have been so much more has Acer really put in the donkey work.

This phone looks like a Stormtrooper, but sadly, also packs as much character and identity as the hapless, instantly replacable servants of the Dark Lord of the Sith.

It'll do its job and it'll follow orders well, but when it comes up against an opponent of any might it can be vanquished with consummate ease.

This isn't the smartphone you're looking for, but we don't need Jedi mind tricks to convince you of that.