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Acer Liquid Metal - CPU, User Interface, Performance and Camera
The phone uses an MSM7230 processor, which is a second-generation Snapdragon chip. Although it's clocked at 800MHz, this chip is actually a bit faster than many of the older 1GHz ones used in the previous generation of Android handsets. It certainly feels nippy. Apps load quickly and there's little slow down even when you have a lot of apps open at once and are flicking between them.
On the OS front, Acer has gone with the relatively recent V2.2 release of Android. However, by default the phone has Acer’s custom user interface 'enhancements' turned on. This is identical to the UI the company used on its Stream handset, but we think it's a tad counter-intuitive to use. For example, it splits the Homescreen in two, with shortcuts to apps at the bottom and three sliding panels at the top. Widgets have been moved to a separate screen that you access by holding down the home button and even the notification tab that’s usually at the top has been moved to the centre of the homescreen. You can read more about it in our Stream review from last year. However, the good news is that you can easily turn it off in the settings menu and return to the standard Android UI.
Another feature that we found a bit disappointing was the camera. It uses a 5-megapixel sensor, has a single LED flash, and supports autofocus. The problem is that it seems to struggle to get its focusing right and as a result, shots are generally lacking the last mile in terms of detail. Colours aren’t all that accurate either and when it's operating under lower light conditions images can be quite noisy.
Nevertheless, the handset covers all the connectivity bases that you'd expect from an Android device. It supports 3G at speeds of up to 14.4Mbps and has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi onboard. Naturally, there's GPS as well, allowing you to take advantage of one or the strengths of Android – its free turn-by-turn navigation.
Call quality was generally good too, although callers don't sound quite as natural as they do on mid-range Nokia or Sony Ericsson handsets. Despite this, we had no problems understanding callers or them understanding our warblings. Battery life was pretty much par for the course on this type of Android phone. We got about two days out of it for normal stuff like calls and email, but this dropped off to around a day if we made quite a lot of use of GPS or web browsing over 3G.
The Liquid Metal definitely has its strengths. It has a good screen, decent processor and runs a recent version of Android. However, the handset’s design just doesn't work as well as it should and detracts from its desirability. In addition, Acer should drop its custom Android interface as it only really succeeds in making Android more convoluted to use. Nevertheless, the price is attractive, so if you can put up with its quirks then the Liquid Metal may be a good buy.