Acer is not the first name that comes to mind when you think of a smartphone. Better known for low priced but eminently serviceable laptops Acer has turned that expertise to the smartphone with its Liquid series.Top of the line is the Liquid S1 Phablet. The Liquid S1 is a big plastic slab that won’t win any design awards what with the wide bezels surrounding the 5.7” 1280 x 720 pixel screen. The curved design does however help with the feel of this big phone in the hand.
What’s under the hood of the S1 won’t raise any eyebrows either..a 1.5GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with just 1GB of RAM isn’t exactly cutting edge. Same with last ear’s operating system Android 4.2.2 Jellybean. The 8GB of storage is a bit skimpy too, though microSD support means you can add plenty of memory for just a few bucks. I was a bit worried about the smallish 2,400 mAh battery but much to my surprise I was able to get a full day and then some from a charge. Obviously Acer has tweaked this phone to sip power. Now you may be wondering by now why am I bothering with this not so pretty underpowered phone. Simple, Most big phones are less than attractive slabs and the S1 is only underpowered in comparison to vastly overpowered phones. Even the mid-range S1 is more powerful than the computers on the Space Shuttles. So if you like big phones/phablets this is a pretty good phone. The 720p HD screen is bright and sharp with good viewing angles. Videos look really good on the screen but the audio from the rear mounted speaker could use a bit more oomph. The 1.5Ghz quad core processor is more than enough to provide smooth and snappy performance. Scrolling is smooth, apps open quickly and gaming performance is very good. At no point did I find this phone to be underpowered. Acer has wisely stuck with a pretty plain vanilla Android interface but included its cool Float feature, which lets certain apps remain on the same screen as other “floating” apps and widgets at the same time. Among other things this feature allows you to watch a video while doing something else. It works very smoothly and you can slide the windows around with no stuttering. It is activated by holding the menu button which pops up a a row of apps along the bottom. Too bad it only works with 8 apps right now. Acer says more will be added. There is also a box in which you can put 8 shortcuts for quick access I guess. I was impressed with the cameras.the front 2MP sensor is ultra wide angle and takes pretty good selfies is great for video calls. The 8MP rear camera takes really good pictures under good lighting conditions. less so as the as the light level drops. The video camera shoots 1080p HD but clearly prefers very good lighting conditions.
Phone performance is excellent with good quality audio in both directions. Only 3G data is a bit of a bummer…I’m getting spoiled by good LTE which is available pretty much everywhere in Canada now.
The Acer Liquid S1 is available at the Acer Online Store and Staples for $379. It is unlocked which means you can use it on most Canadian Carriers and other GSM 3G services around the world with the appropriate SIM card.
This is a very capable big phone at a great price. .