With the Acer Liquid Mini E310, the popular laptop manufacturer makes a foray into the mid-range Android smartphone segment. The Liquid Mini is loaded to the hilt with features and runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo).
With the Samsung Galaxy 3 and LG Optimus One P500 already ruling the Android segment in the same price range and coupled with the drop in price of the feature-rich Samsung Galaxy Ace means that Acer is treading on thin ice (no pun intended). Will the Liquid Mini be able to hold its own among established players? That's the question we're asking in this review.
Acer Liquid Mini E310: Features & specs
The Acer Liquid Mini sports a 3.2in capacitive touchscreen - larger than the Galaxy 3 or the Optimus One P500. But such a big screen demands a good resolution. The Liquid Mini has a resolution of 320x480 and displays only 256 colours. It has a 600MHz processor ARM 11 processor, Adreno 200 GPU and the most impressive feature of the lot is the 512MB RAM. It comes with quite a few colourful back-panel options for example pink and glitzy blue, which might attract the younger lot.
The phone runs on Android 2.2 and the upgrade to Android 2.3 (as quoted by Acer) wasn't available at the time of this review. You have the option of choosing between Acer's custom Android UI and vanilla Android 2.2 UI. The box contains a very comprehensive bundle including a charger, microUSB cable, earphones, 2GB memory card and surprisingly a very comfortable leather pouch.
A 3.5mm jack is provided for your earphones and a microUSB port to connect to a PC. The memory card slot supports memory cards up to 32GB.
The social jogger app
Apart from the regular Android apps, Acer has bundled a few more apps like nemoplayer - for music, photos and videos and social jogger- which lets you access your Facebook (updates) and Twitter (timeline) using a spinning wheel to browse through integrated feeds. I found the social jogger app a cool addition to the extra apps.
Acer Liquid Mini E310: Design And Usability
To say the Acer Liquid Mini is glossy would be an understatement. It's a fingerprint magnet of the highest order. If you are not the kind who would prefer carrying a small cloth with your phone each time you use it, you might want to look at other option.
However, I would say that Acer Liquid Mini does look good and manages to attract attention. It looks like a quality product. But does it feel like one? No. Once you open the creaky back panel to unleash the battery, SIM card and memory card compartments, you are greeted by an area of the phone which is way too cluttered, just like the custom UI.
The Liquid Mini has hardware buttons aplenty for easy access. A four-button layout, commonly found on Android phones, sits at the bottom of the screen, the righthand side of the phone has a volume rocker and a button to access the camera functions and the left is devoid of any easy-access buttons. The top portion of the Mini has the power/sleep button and the 3.5mm jack and the bottom has the mini-USB port to connect to your PC or Mac.
Acer Liquid Mini E310: Performance
Our colleagues at PC World India put the Acer Liquid Mini E310 through its paces in their labs.
The capacitive touchscreen of the Liquid Mini is responsive but is hampered by a slow processor. The touch response was accurate.
One thing that impressed me was the haptic feedback. Similar to Nokia's impressive haptic feedback functions on touchscreen phones, Acer has implemented a high-quality touch sensitive haptic feedback on the Liquid Mini. The most annoying part of my experience with the Liquid Mini was the onscreen qwerty keypad. It was a pain to use the keypad for messaging, and for those who are SMS freaks (like me) I would advise to sift through other options.
Android 2.3 doesn't bring anything significantly new to the table and hence I believe Android 2.2 works absolutely fine on the Acer Liquid Mini. I personally didn't like the Acer proprietary UI and I feel it is way too cluttered for my taste. It also slows down the system speed considerably. I immediately switched to the stock Android UI and my experience was very good.
Acer Custom UI: Not really 'smooth'!
The 3.2in screen is definitely in line with the competition but it is hampered by low resolution and just 256k colours. The screen doesn't actually come to life when you switch on the phone and is just about viewable under direct sunlight.
The battery life of Android phones has always been a disappointment, and the Acer Liquid Mini is no different. It lasted me around a day on full charge before I needed to recharge the phone again. The voice quality on the phone is very good and I found absolutely no distortion of voice even where there was low network reception.
Acer Liquid Mini E310: Camera
A 5Mp camera module is good for a mid-range smartphone. But the Liquid Mini's rear camera has no flash. The camera takes decent pictures and is definitely good for casual shooting. However, I found that pictures taken indoor had very little noise and the colour reproduction was good compared to the ones taken outdoor in bright sunlight.
The Liquid Mini captures MP4 videos at 720x480 resolution at 29fps. The video quality was bad because there was a lot of noise and screen tear when viewed on a computer but on the phone's screen it looked fine.
Acer Liquid Mini E310: Media Playback
The Acer Liquid Mini is a very good device for your media playback. Music quality on the bundled earphones is bad but when I paired it with the Philips SHE-9550 the quality improved drastically. I actually dumped my iPod for listening to music on the Liquid Mini. The Acer Liquid Mini also picked up radio stations in a jiffy and auto-tuning of stations also happened in an instant.
As for video playback, the Mini did a decent job and it played 3gp and mp4 without any hassles.
Acer Liquid Mini E310: Browser
The Liquid Mini had absolutely no hassles connecting over Wi-Fi, 3G or GPRS and browsing was very intuitive with the pinch-and-zoom feature. Those who like using their phone for browsing, the Liquid Mini is a safe bet.