There seems to be a trend to create smartphones that boast ever-larger screens with models like the HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S. However, unless you have gorilla-sized hands, these phones can be uncomfortable to use. With the Liquid Mini, Acer is swimming against the tide as this phone has a much smaller form factor that relies on a 3.2in screen. The smaller screen means the phone fits snugly in your hand, but the question is, does it compromise the phone’s user friendliness?
The Liquid Mini looks very much like a shrunken version of Acer’s larger Liquid E handset that we reviewed back in January. Like that model, the battery cover is nicely curved at the edges and this, combined with the phone’s narrower width, make it feel very comfortable to hold. Acer offers the phone in five different colours: blue, pink, green, black and silver. We had the silver one in for review and the silver paint job used on the battery cover and sides blended in nicely with the chrome detailing on the top and bottom of the phone. And while many of Acer’s handsets have come across as being a bit flimsy, the Mini really does feel very solid and well bolted together.
Along with the standard array of Android touch buttons below the screen there’s also a physical power button at the top of the phone that doubles as a lock switch. Down the right-hand side, is a pair of volume controls, joined by a dedicated camera button -- something that’s becoming a rare sight on today’s mobiles. The bottom of the Mini houses a micro-USB port that’s used for both syncing and charging, and at the top of the handset there’s a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.
Generally, on cheaper handsets such as this one, manufacturers make big compromises when it comes to the camera – usually by opting for cheap 2- or 3-megapixel sensors. However, Acer has bucked this trend, as on the Mini you’ll find a 5-megapixel snapper peeping out from the top of the battery cover. The camera certainly has its failings. There’s no flash, for example, and it lacks autofocus. There’s also quite a bit of shutter lag. However, on the plus side, images are surprisingly sharp and it captures good, strong natural looking colours. And despite the lack of the flash, indoor shots under low light don’t actually look too bad, as the sensor does a decent job of keeping noise under control.
Sadly, when it comes to video, the Mini can only capture footage at a maximum resolution of 720 x 480 pixels, so it lacks the HD prowess of higher-end phones from the likes of HTC and Samsung. Video also looks a little bit rough around the edges and there’s plenty of blocking and jerkiness when there's lots of movement in the frame.