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Acer Liquid A1 review

Niall Magennis



Our Score


Review Price £340.22

Acer’s venture into mobile phone territory has so far been limited to handsets based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system. Certain models, such as the tasty S200 and F900, were pretty impressive, but there have been misses, too, including the very disappointing E101. However, with the Liquid the company is finally venturing beyond Microsoft to give Android a try. On paper, the results look exciting as the Liquid boasts a Snapdragon processor and capacitive screen. As a result, we were keen to see whether it could give the likes of the HTC Hero a run for its money?

It has to be said that first impressions are a little bit disappointing. Some of Acer’s past efforts have been found lacking when it comes to build quality and the Liquid suffers in this department too, although thankfully not to the same degree as the company’s E101. The shiny white plastic used on the Liquid’s rear and sides looks quite cheap and the side-mounted buttons, although finished with metallic paint, suffer from the same problem. It is a shame Acer hasn’t achieved a better finish, as the handset actually feels quite sturdy to hold, and is certainly better in this regard than some of Nokia’s recent models, such as the X6 (which we’ll be looking at very soon).

Nevertheless, there are some nice design touches here and there. For example, we like the way the front touch buttons are mounted flush with the screen and the fact that Acer has also added three handy indicator icons to the top edge of the phone. These remain hidden most of the time, but light up when the handset is charging or you’ve got a missed call or unread message. What’s more, Acer has also sensibly kitted the phone out with a standard headphone jack so you can easily swap the supplied headphone for your own. The mini-USB port is also completely standard so you’ll have no problem topping it up with juice if you find yourself around a mate’s place when the battery is running low.

One of this phone’s key features is its capacitive screen. As far as we’re aware this is Acer’s first stab at using a capacitive rather than resistive display, but the results are very impressive. It is a pleasure to use as it’s every bit as responsive to finger presses and swipes as the Hero or even the iPhone. 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. And while the display can only show 256,000 colours rather than the 16 million offered by the Hero and iPhone, in use this isn’t really all that noticeable as colours still look very vibrant and images and text look nice and sharp thanks to the display’s crisp WVGA resolution.

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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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