By April 14, 2011

Acer Liquid Metal Review

LiquidMetal mainAcer is not a company that many would expect to be making phones but they have and their latest incarnation is the subject of this review. The Liquid Metal is a mid-range device that has been created to conquer the demographic who doesn?t want a flip phone but cannot afford a full fledged smartphone. With competition like the HTC Wildfire S and the Galaxy Ace, can Acer with the Liquid Metal take on the competition or will it be defeated?

Read on to find out!

What is in the Box?

  • Acer Liquid Metal
  • USB to MicroUSB Cable
  • USB UK 3 Pin Charger
  • User Manual
  • Earphones
  • Case

The ten second review:

  • Device: Acer Liquid Metal
  • Price: Around £300 (Depends where you get it from)
  • Summary: A mid-range handset running a skinned version of Android 2.2 Froyo in pretty hardware.
  • Best of: Browser, battery life, sound quality
  • Worst of: Curved screen and back, cheap feeling hardware, camera
  • Buy it now


Acer Liquid Metal Specification:

  • Operating System: Android 2.2 Froyo with Breeze UI Overlay
  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM7230 800 MHz Processor
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • ROM: 512 MB
  • Internal Storage: 512 MB
  • External Storage: Supports up to 32 GB MicroSD Cards
  • Display/Screen: 3.6" Capacitive multitouch TFT touchscreen 480 x 800 pixels
  • GSM/GPRS: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G/HSPA: 900 / 1900 / 2100
  • Bluetooth: Version 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate, A2DP stereo Bluetooth support
  • WiFi: IEEE 802/11 b/g/n
  • Ports: MicroUSB 2.0, Audio 3.5mm Jack
  • GPS: A-GPS
  • Camera: 5 Megapixels, LED Flash, Auto focus, Geo tagging
  • G-Sensor
  • Proximity Sensor
  • Light Sensor
  • Audio: MP3, AAC, AAC , eAAC , AMR, QCELP, WAV
  • Video: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264
  • Battery: 1500mAh, Li-Ion Removable
  • Dimensions: 63mm (W) x 115mm (H) x 13.5mm (D)
  • Weight: 135g



The power button, headphone jack and notification lights are on the top of the liquid metal.

LiquidMetal top


On the bottom there is the MicroUSB port and the microphone.

LiquidMetal bottom


The left hand side is completely clean.

LiquidMetal left


The volume rocker and the camera button live on the right of the handset.

LiquidMetal right


The back houses the speaker, camera, LED flash and the noise-canceling microphone.

LiquidMetal back


The front of the device has the 3.6″ screen housed in a quite a big bezel, the capacitive android buttons, the ear speaker and the Acer logo.

LiquidMetal front


  • Browser
  • Battery life
  • There is a way to get rid of Acer?s skin


  • Acer’s Android Skin
  • Curved hardware
  • Low quality feeling materials



The Liquid Metal is the latest handset to come out of the stables of PC giant Acer. In the mid-range category, the Acer Liquid Metal runs Android 2.2 with a 800 MHz processor which puts it slam bang in the middle of the 1-1.2GHz ‘super’ smartphones and the usual dumb phones where potential owners of the liquid metal will supposedly be coming from.

First impressions of the Acer liquid metal were good. The hardware seemed initially very good and the Breeze skin put over Android 2.2 seemed good as well.

Ok lets first talk about the positive bits of the hardware. The liquid metal is a very pretty device. It is very curvy, clean and its simple styling makes the device very good looking. However, Acer still needs to hit the nail on the head when it comes to hardware design. When you look at it something looks slightly wrong and you can?t put your finger on it -  unlike manufactures such as HTC and Samsung who more often then not hit the sweet spot when it comes to hardware design.

LiquidMetal angled right

At the bottom of the front of the handset are the capacitive buttons that feature on all Android handsets. On the Liquid Metal they are they are Home, Search, Back and Menu buttons in that order.

For a device with metal in it’s name, the device feels a lot like plastic. The back cover is officially made of metal but because of the smooth texture it feels awfully like plastic. And with everything else plastic, it makes the handset feel really cheap in the hand.

But the cheap feeling material is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hardware faults. The liquid metal has a convex screen which actually makes the screen feel really far away from where you are touching. There is also a curved back on the Liquid Metal so it rocks really badly when placed on the table.

LiquidMetal flat back

The biggest flaw in the hardware design by a mile is the bezel around the screen, it’s way too big. This makes the screen look smaller than it already is and at just 3.6″, it doesn’t need to look any smaller.

While we are on the subject, the screen at 3.6″ is not the largest  by any means but it is larger than most in the mid-range category. But as I said earlier on, the large bezel makes it look a lot smaller than it actually is. Also, because of the curved screen, when you tilt it the colours are completely washed out and you can?t see anything because of the glare. One final complaint about the screen is that its shape makes you feel really detached from the content you are touching or swiping.

Less on the negatives though and lets get into the positives. The screen, as it is capacitive, is very responsive, colours seem decent enough and there is no lack of brightness either. At a resolution of 840 x 480, text looks good and images are crisp. Pinch-to-zoom works well with only the slightest bit of lag in which I expect is down to the internals rather than the screen.

LiquidMetal angled back

The camera on the Liquid Metal is overall quite poor for a 5 MP camera. There is limited detail on all pics in all kinds of light, colours are inaccurate, it seems to take an age to focus on a single object and another age to actually take the picture. This results more often then not in a blurry image. Another big issue and possibly the biggest with the camera on the Liquid Metal and that is to do with the LED flash. And this big issue is that it is way to bright. It completely saturates the picture with light which makes a truly awful picture. And if you do not use the LED on the handset and try and shoot without it in darker lighting conditions, be prepared for an unbelievable amount of noise. The camera on the liquid metal could never replace any digital point-and-shoot that you would normally carry around like many other phones could and I would only suggest using it there is no other camera around. That includes cameras inside Barbie dolls!


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The Acer Liquid Metal runs a heavily skinned version of Android 2.2 Froyo called Breeze UI. It is so customised that when I first picked it up, I honestly only knew that it was running Google’s OS was when I saw the Android Market icon!

Lockscreen 1

When the screen is turned on, there are 5 panels that you can go between. But they can only be filled with Acer’s own widgets. Yes you heard right, you cannot use any widgets from any app other than the ones that Acer provides. This is completely insane. Widgets are one of the great features of Android as it gives users the ability to see information without the need to open an app. It toggles controls over system functions like WiFi, Bluetooth and screen brightness which offers an exceptional user experience for most Android handsets.  Whereas on the Acer Liquid Metal running Breeze UI they removed this helpful Android feature, forcing users to waste time opening up apps and diving through menus, all to do something that could have been so easy with a widget. Even if you did want to use some of Acer’s widgets you need to long press the Home button to get them, wasting the user’s time and getting further away from the Android that many, me included, have grown to love.

But like a continuing theme of this review, this flaw is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the atrocity that is Acer’s Breeze UI. When you unlock the device, you not greeted by the normal Android homescreen with 5-7 home screens where you can place widgets, apps, folders and shortcuts. Instead you are greeted by a split homescreen, with three sliding panels at the top, 8 app spaces at the bottom and the notification bar splitting them around two thirds down the screen.

Breeze main

The default panel at the top contains the time and date only. The one to the left is a graphical view of the recent apps and the panel to the right shows thumbnails of media on the handset like photos, videos and music.


Moving down, the notification bar contains, you guessed it, the notifications. The actual implementation is one of the few good things that I like about Breeze UI (apart from the placement of course). There are also 3 sliding panels in the notification bar. To the left is the clock and where you set alarms, in the middle is the notification area and to the right is where you turn system settings on and off such as GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth.

Clock Notifications Settings

Then at the bottom of the home screen, there?s the apps. You get 8 places to put any app you want (most likely to be your most used). Then to access the rest of your installed apps, you swipe up or press the menu button and you are greeted by the rest of the apps. Organised into sliding panels, you can access the apps with just a press.

Breeze apps

I just do not see the point of this particular skin put in place over the top of Android. It is marketed as an enhancement to the Android experience. I couldn’t disagree further with that statement. It is confusing, even to me.  As someone who has had loads of experience with computers and smartphones, it took around 30 minutes to work my way around the skin and find out how everything works. Think how long a normal user would spend trying to use this handset! Acer, either completely redesign your skin and make it useable and not incredibly overcomplicated, or, stop using skins and just put vanilla Android on it and leave it right alone.  Fortunately, the latter is achieved by going to Settings > Applications > User Interface > Android UI.  Props to Acer for including an escape from the unusable and completely unintuitive Breeze UI. If you do get this handset, this is the absolutely the first thing you should do.

Vanilla home

Underneath the appalling skin, it is still Android deep down (very deep down I might add) and that means that it has all most of the great things about Android. Such as Google maps, the browser and the ability to run all apps from the Android Marketplace.

The browser is the standard browser as featured on the uncountable number of Android handsets that are available. It renders the page quickly, supports flash 10.2 (but Flash 10.2 is not pre-installed. You are prompted to download it as soon as you boot up the device) and has pinch-to-zoom. Nothing much to say apart from that it works!


While the Liquid Metal is a smartphone with all the trimmings we must remember that it is a phone first and foremost. The dialer has changed from the standard Android dialer and it only fills the bottom half of the screen, rather than the whole screen. Instead there is a miniature version of the call log above, which is pointless seeing as the full call log is on the next screen. Another reason why Acer are hindering Android rather than helping it.


In terms of voice quality and signal strength, the Liquid Metal seems good in both departments. Not as good as the experts like Nokia and Sony Ericsson in the same category but passable.  I and the person I was speaking to on the other end of the line could understand each other clearly and in terms of signal strength, I have noticed no difference compared to my other phones running on the same network.

The pre-installed keyboard on the Liquid Metal is mediocre. I feel  the keys are too narrow, too tall and too close together. Aside from the keys themselves, the keyboard isn’t actually that bad. It predicts words well and I could beat out an email, text message or tweet with ease. But if you do get the Liquid Metal, I suggest installing one of the 3rd party keyboards such as the Android 2.3 Gingerbread keyboard or Swype as you will have a much better and a much faster experience with these alternative keyboards.

Keyboard Gingerbread keyborad

Media on the Liquid Metal is just like any other Android handset, i.e. not good. Listening to music and watching video is one area where Android really needs to up its game. But Acer has made some slight modifications to the controls on both the video player and the music player from vanilla Android.

Battery on the Liquid Metal is one of the good things about the device. And when I say good I mean it can just about get through a day on one charge but it does drag it’s hind legs as it does it. However it does get a few more hours of life than most of the other Android devices I have used.



The Liquid Metal is, truthfully a feeble attempt by Acer to compete with the likes of HTC, Samsung and Motorola. There is no network support by any of the carriers and frankly I am not surprised. The Breeze UI skin put on by Acer is god damn awful. It is completely backward and unintuitive. Nowhere near the experience that it should be.  I know you can change it to vanilla Android  but you shouldn’t have to do that. The skin should be useful and attractive enough for the general consumer to use easily and not be driven up the wall by it.

So, should you get an Acer Liquid Metal? No. There are far better options such as the Wildfire S and the Galaxy Ace in the same category that offer a much better user experience. I know it is cliche, but if you are reading this Acer, go back to the drawing board.


Review by: Patrick

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