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Acer Liquid A1 - Acer Liquid A1

Niall Magennis

By Niall Magennis


Our Score


Review Price £340.22

Unlike HTC, Acer hasn’t really gone out of its way to tweak the basic Android interface. The phone runs version 1.6 of Android (sadly there seems to be no plans to upgrade it to 2.0, at least at the moment) and the only real tweaks are a couple of carousel-style widgets for flicking through photos, music tracks, videos and bookmarks directly from the home screen; some basic integration of social networking features into the phone’s contacts book; and a new settings screen that’s more user-friendly than the native Android version. However, as the Android interface is already so well designed we don’t think manufacturers really need to mess around with it as much as Windows Mobile. And the lack of extras certainly keeps things rocking along at a lightning quick pace.

In fact, if there’s anywhere that this handset really excels, it’s in terms of raw speed. The Snapdragon processor (which is under clocked to 768MHz) really does work wonders here and in combination with the responsive capacitive screen makes the handset a pleasure to use as every touch, slide or tap is responded too virtually instantaneously. Compared to the sometimes-sluggish Hero it really is a revelation, despite the fact it’s working with only 256MB of RAM.

Some Snapdragon-based phones have had less than impressive call quality, but thankfully, we experienced no major issues with the Liquid A1 in this department. Speech from incoming callers holds together well and isn’t prone to warbling like on those other devices. Equally callers reported no problems, as audio from the mic was clear and distinct. However, the speakerphone mode isn’t wonderful as it does tend to sound brittle at higher volumes, but the Liquid is hardly the first smartphone to suffer from this issue.

Although you’d think the Snapdragon processor would be battery hungry, it’s actually not that bad in this department. We got between a day and a half and two days of usage out of it before it needed a recharge depending on how heavily we used features like GPS and 3G browsing, so in this regard it offers up similar performance to the majority of other Android handsets on the market.

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December 23, 2009, 6:56 am

Only an 8 for value? Can't think of another phone as well specced available for the same money. Seems like amazing value to me.


December 23, 2009, 2:39 pm

Android 2 is confirmed:


and, as a consequence, multitouch ;-)

Nicholas Name

December 23, 2009, 2:54 pm

"However, unlike those two models, Acer hasn’t added support for multi-touch so you can’t pinch to zoom in on pages in the web browser. This is a shame, but not a complete deal breaker."

Am I alone in being completely baffled by the apparent enthusiasm for multi-touch on mobile phones? The whole concept seems bizarre; not only superfluous, but entirely contrary to the way that phones are designed to be operated.

There was once a time, perhaps 30 years or so ago, when one needed two hands to operate a phone; one to hold the receiver and the other to dial the number. This was entirely acceptable, given that one was seated in one's hallway at a table to put one's cup of tea on.

However, in the eighties, the mobile phone was introduced. It revolutionised telephony, freeing people from their hallway telephone tables. When using a mobile phone, one could only use one hand, because there was no table on which to put one's cup of tea. Therefore the dialler was built into the handset.

This has been the accepted norm ever since, until Apple came along and built what became a very popular phone. Unfortunately, they couldn't work out a method of zooming in and out of screen views using only one hand, despite the fact that this feature has been available on Symbian and Winmo phones for years. Of course Apple couldn't admit to this failure and instead set about marketing this wonderful 'new' way of operating a phone. I suspect they have exploited the recent fashion for all things seventies and eighties: Yes, you can relive the days of the 3-day week and the winter of discontent by having to occupy both hands to operate your phone!

Now, it seems, everyone wants the opportunity to be unable to use their phones without stopping everything else they are doing and putting their bags and cups of coffee down. Yes, you too can transport yourself into a world of Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes!

If you haven't worked it out already, I simply cannot understand this concept and consider it a very large step backwards for mobile telephony. I wish people would just stop and think about it, before the phone manufacturers get drawn into this madness, causing us all to suffer.


December 23, 2009, 4:31 pm

The most important question on my mind is "If im waiting for an iPhone, will I be disappointed with this phone?"


December 23, 2009, 5:48 pm

@swift11 - yep, we know ;)



December 23, 2009, 5:53 pm

@ Nicholas: Umm, sorry, but you're wrong on the way Multi-touch works on the iPhone. You CAN zoom one handed without any problems at all, just double tap the screen and it zooms in intelligently to focus on what you tapped. Most of the time it actuall works very nicely indeed. Multi-touch for zooming gives you fine control in a brilliantly intuitive way but it's an additional capability not a complete replacement. For most basic operations I can use the iPhone interface one handed quite happily with multi-touch making things like the on-screen keyboard work that little bit better and allowing very easy and, again, intuitive editing of a document.

Nicholas Name

December 23, 2009, 6:27 pm

@BOFH: Double tap is fine, and it's not multi-touch. It's limitation is the fact that it is essentially binary - like a telephoto rather than a zoom lens. It lacks any degree of control over the zoom level. Methods like Symbian's hold-slide and winmo's circular zoom are both examples of fully flexible one-handed zooming which remove the silly requirement for two hands to operate the features of the phone. I can see that it might be fun to use multi-touch for games or wotnot, but to cripple a phone by enforcing its use in other respects is just wrong.


December 23, 2009, 7:44 pm

@Gordon: sorry, I meant: Android 2 is confirmed for this handset, and as a consequence, multitouch and 16 million colours ;-)


December 23, 2009, 9:26 pm

@Nicholas Name: Don't forget, the two-finger multi-touch zoom implementation that you're referring to does more than just zoom. It also allows the user to pan and zoom at the same time, in a single gesture. This kind of functionality isn't replicated by simple one-finger zoom mechanisms. Apple's implementation of this is particularly good, making zooming and panning around images, maps and web pages a breeze. This kind of intuitive design is key to the accessible, consumer-based nature of their products. If you don't think Apple knew exactly what they (and their competition) were doing when they decided upon this method then you're taking them for idiots.

That said, I think you're basically correct when you refer to Apple's lack of single handed gestures. The iPhone doesn't have an infinitely variable zoom gesture that can be operated with a single hand, and perhaps it needs one in addition to its multi-touch gestures. I think there's a place for both.

Overall though, I agree with Niall's perspective in that a phone that lacks multi-touch is 'a shame, but not a complete deal breaker'. It just doesn't make that much difference to the whole experience offered by the device.


December 23, 2009, 10:33 pm

Does it lack multitouch or just pinch to zoom? (2 different things) At that price its appealing especially as its getting Android 2.0 according to swift. Will wait a few more weeks for your milestone review and concrete news on the nexus before I have to make any rash decisions. This got a higher score than I was expecting


December 24, 2009, 3:51 am

I decided against posting a comment on N900 review there is enough feedback there already. But I find it difficult to understand the scoring on your reviews at times. I can allow for the fact that reviews are done by different people but both Liquid and the N900 review were done by the same person. What exactly does the value criteria represent? Like @ravmania I assume it represents value for money. Based on that assumption, in the context of a sim free price what is the criteria for a score of 9 or 10? What is lacking in the N900 for it to receive a 6 for value? Why would an iPhone the most expensive (and by a considerable margin) mainstream phone available get a 9 for value?

I would really appreciate it if someone could elaborate.


December 24, 2009, 5:12 am

Well I guess the value score is more than simple math, i.e. This has feature x,y and z at a lower price than another phone so is better value. It is a more objective standard, what is the overall experience like for the money. So whilst the iPhone may be more expensive and arguably less featured it offers a user experience which renders the device good value for money. Similarly another feature packed phone with a rubbish user experince is not good value, it's false economy.

At least that's how I look at it, could be totaly off the mark.

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