Acer Liquid E1 Review
Early this year, world-famous netbook and laptop maker Acer unleashed the mid-range Acer Liquid E1 V360 into the Asian and European markets. Not a few of the critics quickly passed judgment: ho-hum, another forgettable phone.
Acer’s releases into the Android smartphone market are usually either easily lost from memory after a brief sizzle, or simply maligned by critics and thereafter erased from humanity’s consciousness.
Will the same fate befall the Acer Liquid E1 V360? Allowed to stand and shine on its own merit, does this new release from Acer have even a bit of sparkle and glitter to catch the wandering eye? Read on and find out. (Or view our quick video review of this phone.)
Physical Build and Design
Dimensions and Weight
|Length||132 mm ( 5.20 in)|
|Width||68.5 mm ( 2.70 in)|
|Thickness||9.9 mm ( 0.39 in)|
|Weight||130 g ( 4.59 oz)|
At first glance, the Acer Liquid E1’s design (especially its front panel) reminds me of the Galaxy Nexus. Both phones have similar shapes and have round corners though the Liquid E1 is rounder and has a flat screen. This phone is also slightly smaller than the Galaxy S3.
I like the Liquid E1’s size because it makes the phone easy to carry and handle. All hardware buttons are accessible with one hand and my thumb can reach the 4 corners of the screen. The plastic frame, though, adds a few more millimeters to the phone’s width.
Front and sides
At the front is an all-black touchscreen panel, accented by the Acer logo on top and surrounded by a plastic frame. The black and white combo of my test unit looks nice, but I don’t feel any air of class or sophistication. No such vibes for me, truly. Rather, it looks just like a black touchpanel encased in pearly white plastic frame. Though, don’t get me wrong — it’s not bad-looking at all.
The black variant of this phone actually looks more elegant with its black and red combination.
On the plastic frame, you can find two grilles: one grille at the bottom for the phone mic and another grille at the top for the phone’s speaker.
The E1 also doesn’t have physical or capacitive navigation buttons, yet it has a wide and empty bottom bezel. Such a waste of space!
The hard plastic serving as the phone’s frame also makes up the sides of the phone. The phone’s bottom edges round and smoothen towards the back — a shape that makes the phone comfortable to hold.
You can find the Power button and the headphone jack at the top side. The Micro USB port sits at the left side.
The volume rocker is on the right side. You can identify which volume key is up or down by the number of raised dots on the key: two dots for volume up and one dot for volume down.
At the back is a removable back cover. It’s not glossy, but a bit smooth matte, so it’s not prone to smudges. The back also has a dimpled texture (like those on golf balls, but smaller ones) in the central region of a hyperbolic design. It seems to work well for good traction.
The stereo loudspeaker grilles, camera, LED flash, camera mic, Acer logo, and DTS logo are all located at the back of the phone.
The backplate is removable. On the underside of the hard plastic cover is the NFC chip. Protected by the backplate are the 1,760-mAh Li-ion battery, the Mini-SIM (2FF) slot, and the microSD card slot for up to 32 GB of additional storage.
The back cover snaps into place via plastic hooks on its underside. I do not guarantee the durability of the said hooks. In my experience, after carefully removing the plastic backplate of my test unit a few times, the hooks seem to lose their grip, resulting in a backplate that doesn’t snap tightly into place anymore. Here’s how the top part of the back of my unit looks now:
Screen and display
The phone’s screen size still remains within the comfortable range for smartphones. Packed into its 4.5-inch IPS LCD is a display of 960×540 pixels (qHD) resolution, with pixel density of about 245 ppi. It’s a clear, crisp, and sharp display. Colors are quite brilliant, but not oversaturated as those on OLED-based displays.
The touchscreen itself is quite sensitive and responsive. Navigating the homescreens and the App Drawer is fluid and smooth.
I notice the vertical striping in the display, though. I find it annoying. But, most people probably won’t mind. Most people won’t probably even notice.
|CPU||1.0 GHz dual-core ARMv7|
|GPU||PowerVR SGX 531|
|Internal memory||4 GB|
|External memory||microSD, up to 32 GB|
The phone is generally fast and smooth enough for moderate use and enjoyment. Although I observe occasional lag when scrolling through homescreens, the jitter and lag are most perceptible in the browsers — both stock Android Browser and Google Chrome. When rendering webpages, the page shows some tearing; when scrolling up or down a page, you’ll notice the lag.
Launching apps, though, is quick and easy. The phone can easily deal with HD apps, such as HD games like Cut the Rope: Time Travel HD.
Most of the the phone’s 4-gigabyte internal storage is used by the system and only a small portion is available to the user. This means that you will need to invest in a high-capacity microSD card if you intend to keep a lot of data and files on your phone.
The following benchmarks may provide a closer look into the Acer Liquid E1’s overall performance:
|Vellamo Mobile Benchmark HTML5||1369|
|Vellamo Mobile Benchmark Metal||376|
|Linpack for Android Single Thread (in MFLOPS)||39.193|
|Linpack for Android Multi-thread (in MFLOPS)||56.581|
|Nenamark 1 (in fps)||44.3|
|Nenamark 2 (in fps)||24.9|
|BrowserMark (using Google Chrome)||2110|
|Google V8 Benchmark Suite (using Google Chrome)||1225|
Providing power to the phone is a Li-ion 1,760 mAh battery that can last up to about 400 hours on standby or 8 hours of talk time. The battery is removable, so you can buy spare or replacement battery packs if you need them.
For connectivity, the Acer Liquid E1 provides these:
- GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
- HSDPA (900/2100 MHz)
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- Micro USB 2.0
- Near Field Communication
- Bluetooth v3.0 with A2DP, EDR
- 3.5-mm headphone jack
- standard Mini-SIM (2FF); dual SIM on some variants
The Liquid E1 carries a 5-megapixel camera at the back and a VGA camera on the front. Camera performance is quite fast and surprisingly snappy. Autofocus is fast and shutter speed is acceptable. There is some shutter lag, but it’s barely noticeable, especially in bright lighting. The lag becomes more pronounced when the camera is used in low lighting or when Night Mode is active.
You can choose any of these available shooting modes: Normal, Panorama, Multi-angle View, HDR, Auto Scene Detect, Continuous Shot, and Beautification.
You can also specify one of the available scenes: Auto, Night, Sunset, Party, Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait, Theatre, Beach, Snow, Steady Photo, Fireworks, Sports, and Candle Light.
Or, if needed, you can use lower image sizes for photos such as 3 MP, 2 MP, 1.3 MP, or VGA. The highest maximum image size is 5 MP. For videos, you can record at 720p, 480p, HVGA, or MMS resolution.
Here are some sample outdoor photos that I captured using the Liquid E1:
And, three more sample indoor shots (Auto Mode, Night Mode, and with flash):
Video playback on the Liquid E1 is not stellar, but it’s not awful either. The phone can play Standard Definition (SD) videos with no problem at all. It can play 720p HD videos decently with some occasional lag. It’s in the 1080p Full HD videos that the phone clearly starts to show its multimedia limitations; the lag becomes very noticeable along with pixelation and screen tearing.
Sound quality, however, is surprisingly wonderful. I suppose much of the accolade goes to the DTS technology that the phone uses, and the dual stereo loudspeakers at the back of the phone. You’ll get even better sound quality by using headphones and by setting equalizer presets.
Software and UI
The Acer Liquid E1 comes with a slightly modded version of Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean with Acer UI 5.0. The user interface hasn’t deviated much from the AOSP interface or the interface on the Nexus. As such, it has a simple and fast interface. Even the lockscreen itself has a simple unlocking animation: shutter blinds effect.
Navigation is purely virtual. The phone uses no hardware or capacitive navigation buttons.
Acer, to its great credit, has provided on the Notification Shade what HTC has never provided yet: toggle buttons.
The Float Caller feature is quite a useful one. It pops up an interactive alert box for incoming calls instead of opening the Phone app and blocking whatever is on your screen.
Acer has also thrown in several apps integrated into its AcerCloud service. There’s also a File Manager app and a ToDo app — both of which I appreciate.
The phone’s UI can be easily personalized, although the customization options aren’t as extensive or as flexible as in other phones. But, I do appreciate the power scheduling feature, wherein you can define when to automatically turn on or turn off your phone.
The My Style app also lets you alter the phone’s look and feel a bit:
- set homescreen and lockscreen wallpapers (including video wallpaper);
- enable shortcuts on the lockscreen and decide what shortcuts to place there;
- set custom ringtones, notification alerts, and volume levels; and
- set homescreen transition animation effects.
Price and Availability
The Acer Liquid E1 is already available in certain markets in Europe and Asia. The handset’s off-contract retail price falls within the range US$260 to US$300 (about 200 to 230 euros).
Find out more about the Acer Liquid E1 in our video review on YouTube:
Don’t expect the Liquid E1 to make your eyes pop with stunning visuals or stunning performance. It is not meant for that, nor does it pretend to be that kind of Android phone. For what it’s worth, it’s a mid-range phone that can do mid-range smartphone tasks — and quite well, I might say.
With an okay design, adequate cover and protection, fairly fast processing power plus fast OS and UI, and basic multimedia features, the Liquid E1 can be a perfect phone for those who don’t need the extra power or superlative performance.
What about you? What do you like or dislike about the Acer Liquid E1 V360? Would you consider buying this Acer phone? Share your thoughts in the comments.
(with contributions from Alvin Ybañez)