• Good 13-megapixel camera in the right conditions
  • Sharp 720p HD screen
  • Useful back button


  • Sluggish performance
  • No 4G support
  • Average speakers

Review Price £199.90

Key Features: Front LED camera flash; 4.7-inch 720p screen

Manufacturer: Acer

Flashy phone

Acer's phones rarely get all that much attention. They don't tend to offer any particularly jaw-dropping features and aren't as widely distributed as those of Samsung, HTC and co.

However, the Acer Liquid E3 has something genuinely rare – a front LED camera flash. We took a look at the phone at MWC 2014 to see if the rest if worth getting excited about.

Acer Liquid E3 – Design and Features

The E series is home to Acer's mid-range phones. The Acer Liquid E3 is the successor to the Liquid E2, and it's a much better-looking phone.

It's a little more angular, but has lost the silly-looking speakers on the back that caused us to speak a little uncharitably about it in our Liquid E2 review. The version we saw is mostly black, with a few bits of red trim. A white version may also be on the cards.

Its back is plastic, and curved for comfort. As with some other current Acer phones, there's a 'Rapid' button on the back that can be customised to take you to your favourite app. In the demo model it directed the E3 to the camera, but this can be changed.

The Acer Liquid E3's angular lines give it a hint of stuffy seriousness missing from the Liquid Z4, but it's a fairly good-looking phone. Especially for Acer.

Acer Liquid E3 – Screen and Software

Its screen is better than average for a mid-range £150-200 phone. Where new phones like the Sony Xperia M2 and Huawei Ascend G6 have qHD displays, the Liquid E3 has a 720p screen like the Motorola Moto G.

This gives excellent sharpness across the phone's 4.7 inches of display, and I didn't notice any serious problems with colour accuracy or any particular contrast issues. Image quality wasn't startling – it's just a good mid-range display – but I'm happy given the expected £180-200 price.

However, the Acer Liquid E3's interface is not the prettiest way to show off the display. As we noted in our Z4 preview, it's totally green-obsessed. Love green? Then no problem as otherwise it has a fairly similar layout to vanilla Android. And you get a bunch of Acer extras like a note-taking app and one that accesses Acer Cloud storage. It is based on the old Android 4.2 version of the core OS, though, rather than the current Android 4.4.

Thanks to respectable innards, the Liquid E3 runs fairly quick – something we'll test out more fully once we get onto a full review.

Acer Liquid E3 – Specs

The Acer Liquid E3 has a quad-core processor running at 1.2GHz. However, it's a MediaTek chip rather than one of the much more popular Snapdragon ones, and there's 1GB of RAM. I expect benchmark performance will be closer to the level of the Snapdragon 400 chips rather than the higher-end Snapdragon 800 ones. That's what you'd expect at this level anyway.

A more disappointing feature hole is 4G. The Liquid E3 maxes out with 3G HSPA, where 4G is starting to trickle down into cheaper phones like the LG F90.

Where the Acer Liquid E3 gets another headstart over the competition is with its cameras. First, there's that incredibly rare front LED flash, although the actual sensor is 'just' a 2-megapixel model where the Huawei Ascend G6 uses a 5-megapixel front camera. Still, a flash will come in handy for late-night drunken selfies with friends – in the dark, three extra megapixels won't be of much use.

The rear camera one has a 13-megapixel sensor – pretty high for a phone of this class, where 8-megapixel sensors are more commonly used. However, we don't judge photo performance on specs alone so I'll wait for our review sample before praising the phone too much.


First Impressions

We've come away from the Acer Liquid E3 with much more positive feelings than a year ago when we looked at the E2 at launch. It offers solid specs, a decent design and a couple of neat hardware extras you don't see every day. Would we recommend it over a Moto G which costs just over half the price? From what we've seen so far, probably not.

Next, check out our list of the best mobile phones available today

Scores In Detail

Battery Life
Call & Sound Quality
Camera Quality
Screen Quality
Software & Apps
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