Acer has made only very light changes to the Android 4.2.1 software of the Liquid E2. The icon dock on the home screen, the lock screen and even the power off animation are stock.
Keeping things simple like this helps to make the Acer Liquid E2 perform well day-to-day, despite ‘only’ having 1GB of RAM. The 2013 standard for a top-end phone is 2GB of RAM.
There’s barely any lag when flicking through Android. Apps load a teeny bit slower than they would on a £500 phone, but this too is minor if you have even the smallest reserve of patience.
Alongside the 1GB of RAM, the Acer Liquid E2 has a quad-core Mediatek processor. This CPU brand is generally seen in aggressively priced phones and tablets, and the E2’s is a quad-core Cortex A7 chipset clocked at 1.2GHz that uses the PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU.
There are a few minor app additions, but most of them aren’t actually Acer’s own software. There’s an AcerCloud app, which gives you access to Acer’s Cloud storage once you register for it, but otherwise there’s no sign of that Acer logo.
Instead, Acer pre-installs a few generic utilities, such as a to-do list, a backup app, barcode scanner and file browser. More unusually, there’s an app to help you hook up to a wireless keyboard or mouse. But as it’s little more than a Bluetooth sync interface it feels a little pointless.
Acer knows that most of you will want to skip off to Google Play to find your favourite apps upon firing-up the Acer Liquid E2, and it just lets you get on with it.
One of the most important changes to the Android OS is one you may not notice instantly. The Acer Liquid E2 uses a custom keyboard rather than the stock Android one.
It uses the Swype keyboard, which lets you drag a path across the letters in a word rather than having to tap them separately. Swype is a good keyboard, and offers snappy typing, especially if you embrace its gesture-led style.
It has multiple ‘themes’ too – skins that change how the keyboard looks.
The browser selection is the Android default – the ‘stock’ Android browser and the snappier Chrome. For a larger-screen phone like the Liquid E2, we prefer Chrome (although it doesn’t support text reflow).
With the most obvious speakers this side of the Ministry of Sound and a DTS logo on the phone’s back, you’d assume that a focus of the Liquid E2 is music/video. However, in action it’s revealed to be mostly bluster. The music app is the bog-standard Android one, and the quality of the internal speakers is seriously disappointing.
They're not particularly loud, they are tonally mediocre and they distort at top volume. These are clearly pretty low-grade speakers. There are just two of them for a spot of stereo effect, but even that isn’t particularly impressive as the speakers are rear-mounted and fire directly away from you.
The Acer Liquid E2’s video is better. The video player app played most of our test files with no problems, including DivX and MKV. Although Windows warns you that files may not be compatible with the Acer Liquid E2 virtually no matter what type you try (when ferrying them over a USB able), it handles more than most.