Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
If you're in the market for a phone that doesn't cost the earth, chances are you might have stumbled across the Acer Liquid E3, a handset from a manufacturer more associated with computers than mobile devices.
With a price tag as little as £14 per month in the UK or £134.99 (around $224, AU$240) SIM-free and a spec list that includes a quad-core CPU, 13MP camera, forward facing flash and HD screen there seems to be a lot to shout about.
The HD screen is certainly something that the Liquid E3 can shout about. It gives a pixel density of 312ppi and makes watching movies and playing games that bit nicer, and out strips almost every other handset that can be had for this price. Only the Moto G and the Korean ex-flagship in the form of the Galaxy S3 can match it.
The forward facing speakers are also a really nice touch for a handset of this price tag. They're loud and produce a really clear sound. That DTS sound enhancement also helps boost them in a similar way that HTC's Boomsound does. In all, they make for a very comfortable movie watching and music listening experience.
The quad core CPU certainly kept everything running along smoothly. It might not come up with the same high powered insides that now dominate the flagships and even the upper mid range, often referred to as the "mini" generation, but it keeps the Liquid E3 ticking over very nicely.
One of my biggest qualms with the Acer Liquid E3 was the design. Other than being a nice big black square, in much the same way as nigh on every handset that has ever been produced, there is little to say.
The stylish red colour used on the stereo speakers is offset by the fact that they are sat back from the display, making the front feel like it doesn't quite fit.
Another area that really got to me was the colour scheme. It is something that is only a third party launcher away, but when you've just spent out money on a brand new handset the last thing you want to do is download something to change the whole feel, for something as minor as an annoyingly bright colour scheme.
Finally is the biggest problem of all, one that shouldn't beset even the most basic of phones. Call quality on the Liquid E3 was poor, and that is somewhat of an understatement. Despite test calls in quiet conditions, complete with a decent level of signal on both handsets, the Acer was very hard to hear. Even with the volume turned up the call still sounded muffled.
After spending a lot of time with the Acer Liquid E3, there is no doubt that this handset has been aimed at younger students, those that are in high school rather than at University. The price tag screams of a handset that you won't mind if it gets bashed up on the playground, and the forward facing flash is aimed very heavily at the selfie loving youngsters.
It is these people that will probably not care too much that the Liquid E3 can't make the world's best calls, because they're too busy Snapchat-ing or sending Facebook and WhatsApp messages. This won't appease the people buying the handset though, the parents that want to be able to get a hold of their kids at a moment's notice.
Yes the Liquid E3 does a lot of things well, but as an overall handset it is still left looking up to the Moto G as the handset of choice in this price bracket, and with software that is older than that found on the Galaxy S3, the reasons to choose the Liquid E3 over any of its rivals are quickly diminishing.
First reviewed: August 2014