Acer Liquid S2 – Camera
The Acer Liquid S2 has a 13-megapixel camera – something common among phones of 2013 and 2014. What’s really different about the S2 is its quad-LED ring flash. It also supports 4K video capture, something not seen in all phones.
In good lighting, the camera is quite strong. Detail is good, comparable with what you can get from the Galaxy Note 3. However, in trickier conditions the camera’s imaging engine doesn’t seem to have the chops to compete with other high-end 13-megapixel phone cameras.
In all conditions, fine details can tend to look very nervous, and there’s more chromatic aberration than in key rivals like the Sony Xperia Z2. The Liquid S2 also seems very keen on getting rid of noise in photos, and it tends to have a negative impact on how authoritative photos look when zoomed into.
That said it’s more than capable of producing good photos in the right conditions.
Next, onto the flash.
A ring flash is something you never normally see in a phone. The usual types are single LED, dual LED and Xenon – the latter being very rare these days.
The traditional purpose of a ring flash is to avoid causing hard shadows when shooting close-up objects. As the subject is being lit from multiple angles, one flash element gets rid of the shadows created by another. It’s clever, in a rather simple, physics-based fashion.
While the premise is sound, it doesn’t 100 per cent make sense in a phone like the Acer Liquid S2. The flash doesn’t really offer greater range than a good dual-LED flash, and as all its LED bulbs are plain white, there’s nothing to stop it washing-out people’s faces – or the close-up objects ring flash photography might normally be associated with. Recent phones including the iPhone 5S and HTC One M8 use dual-LED flashes with two-tone bulbs to reduce this effect.
We’d rather have one of those. This feels like a feature added merely to let the Liquid S2 offer something you don’t get elsewhere. Still, at least it doesn’t cost more than the competition as a result. In a somewhat-similar vein, you can capture 4K video with the Liquid S2. Quality is fairly good, but this is no strong reason to buy the phone over a rival.
Acer Liquid S2 – Battery Life
The Acer Liquid S2 has a 3,300mAh battery. That’s a pretty mammoth unit, but provides fairly ordinary battery performance. It’s not too hard to run down the thing in a day, with a bit of game-playing and video-watching.
As you might expect, the main issue appears to be the screen. A 6-inch 1080p display is going to be quite a power leech, and it doesn’t seem to use any of the new battery-saving screen technologies that will make 2K-resolution screens a viable option in the future.
Set to play a video, the Acer Liquid S2 lasted for seven hours before the low battery warning shut down the video player app – which happens when the power hits 30 per cent. Ignore this and you should be able to get 10 hours video out of the unit.
This is an obvious area where the border between phones and tablets is awkward. It’d be a good performance for a tablet, but is less than inspiring for a phone.
Acer Liquid S2 – Call Quality & Connectivity
The quality of phone calls is not a highlight either. The Liquid S2’s earpiece speaker is a little quiet and thin-sounding. We found it didn’t cope too well with noisy environments, where the person on the other end can be a little hard to decipher.
Still, you do get active noise cancellation, which is provided by a secondary microphone that sits just above the camera on the back.
The Acer Liquid S2 is also very up-to-date in terms of its connections. It offers CAT4 4G mobile internet, NFC and ac Wi-Fi. It has just about everything you could ask for.
There’s just one missing bit – an IR transmitter. This is used in other phones to let mobiles double as universal remotes: a neat feature but one we find many normal people ignore.
Should I buy the Acer Liquid S2?
The Acer Liquid S2 is a solid, feature-packed phone that is a little cheaper than some of the competition. It costs around £300, about £100 less than the best price for the Note 3 and a whopping £10 or so less than the Xperia Z Ultra.
Strong core specs and plenty of features make it a sound buy. But a slight lack of finesse in part means it’s not a remarkable device.
There are definitely benefits to a phone this large, in particular for gaming, browsing and watching videos. But for many of you the practicality cost may be too great. There’s more than a fistful of phone to contend with here: make sure you’re prepared for it.
The Acer Liquid S2 is a great big phone with lots of features and good core specs. However, its large size means it’s a little tricky to handle at times and some elements lack a little care and attention.
Next, read our best mobile phones round-up
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Score in detail
Battery Life 7
Calls & Sound 7
Screen Quality 7