The Acer Liquid Mini is a petite Android phone with exchangeable back-covers. A shrunken version of Acer’s first Android offering, it also has its own in-house software interface and apps.
We weren’t wowed by the original, but how does this fun-sized smartphone stack up against its predecessor?
What we like
Acer has tried made sure that the Liquid Mini stands up well against rival smartphones. The capacitive touchscreen is responsive, and the phone packs in most of the Android features you’d want. The phone handled Google Maps well, and the GPS feature meant it didn’t waste any time finding where we were.
There’s plenty of other apps to add through the Android Market, and you can view all the apps and web-pages you’ve previously accessed by swiping to the far left side of the phone’s homepage.
The lock-screen is Acer’s own creation, with visible notification of any missed calls and unread messages. These also act as shortcuts, sending you immediately to missed calls or a list of messages. A little peel-off corner acts as the screen lock, and it’s another nice touch, which takes you to the homepage.
What we don’t like
It’s more of Acer’s own software that makes us grumble. The initial Acer UI is difficult to use, especially if you’ve used an Android phone before. Although it can be turned off inside the settings, it’s hidden in application settings. If you do switch to standard Android, you’ll miss out on the stylish lock-screen features.
Acer have said that the Liquid Mini will get updated to Android Gingerbread, with its speed and browser upgrades, though our review model was running the creakier Android 2.2 (Froyo).
Similarly creaky is the phone’s build quality. Although we like the phone’s metallic edges, the screen uncomfortably flexes when you touch it with any strength. The plastic backing also betrays the respectable smartphone found beneath it; it feels cheaper than it should.
It also has its limitations, due to the now increasingly elderly 600Mhz processor. There’s no Flash video player, and our efforts with the camera, though not awful, seemed below the standard of similar shots with the Samsung Galaxy Ace or Wildfire S. The camera also lacks any sort of flash, meaning you’ll need good lighting to take photos or capture video.
Acer’s Liquid Mini is a very portable Android smartphone, and another welcome addition to the mid-range smartphone catalogue. You’re able to browse the web, check your emails and it does everything you’d expect a smartphone can do.
But it’s let down by cheap build quality, and other shortcomings. The Acer-branded interface can be turned off, but many users may be confused with the original, where you’re left with a rather bare-bones homepage and muddled apps, and never work out how to switch to the simpler Android layout. The screen is the biggest let-down, with its disappointing image sharpness and the feel of it, which flexed under our touch.
Sadly, several other mid-range smartphones manage to pull it all together better.