After releasing a flurry of handsets towards the middle of last year, Acer has been relatively quiet on the smartphone front lately with just the lacklustre beTouch E130 breaking its silence. However, now it's back with the Acer Liquid Metal - a smartphone running v2.2 of Android and sporting a fairly nippy processor and sharp multi-touch screen. However, there are plenty of good Android handsets on the market priced at a similar level, so how does this one stack up against the competition?
In our opinion, Acer has yet to hit the sweet spot when it comes to handset design. In the past, some of its models have come close, but none have yet reached the levels of desirability that other manufacturers like HTC have achieved. Unfortunately, the Liquid Metal continues this trend, but that's not to say that it’s completely lacking in charm.
Like the original Acer Liquid A1, this model has a similar curvaceous design. In fact, both the front and the rear of the phone are curved giving it an oval shape when viewed from the top. Although in general the chassis feels a little bit more plastiky than we would have liked, Acer has actually used some aluminium on the battery cover. This has been finished with an attractive etched pattern and given a rich dark chocolate colour scheme. The edges of the phone are also finished in chrome, while the front of the handset has a glossy black coating.
As far as we’re concerned there are two big problems with the design. The first is that there's quite a large bezel around the screen. Not only does this make the phone look a bit old fashioned, but it also makes the screen seem smaller than it really is. The second issue is that the curved back means the handset rocks around if you try typing on it while it's sitting on a desk.
Nevertheless, the Liquid Metal does have a standard headphone jack at the top and a micro-USB port at the bottom, which is used for charging and synchronizing it with a PC. Dedicated controls include a power button, camera key and volume rocker. There's also a row of four responsive touch buttons at the bottom of the screen for the usual Android functions like Home and Menu.
Despite the thick bezel making it look small, the screen actually measures 3.6 inches across the diagonal and its resolution is very good at 840 x 480 pixels, so text in the web browser looks very sharp even when zoomed out a bit and pictures and icons also look crisp. Colours are impressively vivid and it's certainly not lacking in brightness either. As you would expect on a mid-range Android device, the display is capacitive and so supports multi-touch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom in the browser. Crucially, it was quite accurate in our tests at registering touch input too.