Acer Liquid S2 vs Samsung Galaxy Note II: first look

Acer vs Samsung
Acer brought the big guns here at IFA 2013 and the Liquid S2 smartphone is the prime weapon in its arsenal. Being a member of the "phablet" device category, it sports a screen that would appeal to those who strongly support the "bigger is better" principle. Then there's the Samsung Galaxy Note II – a smartphone aimed at that very same crowd, but bound to be succeeded by a new model in the very near future.

So why even bother comparing the two when the Note III is around the corner, you ask? Well, that's because the Samsung Galaxy Note II would still be on the shelves of retailers for a while, and the Acer Liquid S2 would be priced very similarly once it is out. The question is, which one of the two would deliver more bang for its money.


Clearly these two devices are pushing the boundaries of how large a smartphone can be without crossing into tablet territory. And that's the whole point of it since both the Acer Liquid S2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note II are aiming to bring the best of both worlds – the functionality of a phone and the versatility of a tablet – under one roof. Of course, neither of them would fit comfortably in the pocket of a pair of jeans without sticking out. That is especially true for the Acer Liquid S2, which is equipped with a screen even larger than the Note II's. 

In terms of looks, neither smartphone seems to have the upper hand. Both the Acer Liquid S2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note II are made of plastic, with some non-intrusive design elements here and there adding extra visual appeal. The Liquid S2 will be available in matte black or matte red, while the Note II can be bought in white, grey, brown, red, or pink, although availability varies from one country to another.


When it launched, the Samsung Galaxy Note II had one of the best screens one could possibly see on a mobile device. At 5.5 inches and with resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels, it was large and quite detailed, which made it very suitable for watching videos, surfing the web, and what not. Colors delivered by the Super AMOLED HD panel looked impressive, to say the least. But display tech is improving rapidly. The IPS LCD display on the Acer Liquid S2 excels in almost every aspect as it is even more pixel dense, with a resolution of 1080 by 1920 pixels spread across a diagonal of 6 inches. Color accuracy is also top notch even when the screen is viewed at an angle. 


Acer seems to favor the stock Android experience. That is why there is little going on in terms of interface alterations on the Liquid S2, aside from the new lock screen and the new widgets that have been thrown in. A nice addition, however, are the handful of apps that can be launched in a window hovering above the UI. The Samsung Galaxy Note II offers quite a lot more in terms of software features as it runs the company's heavily customized TouchWiz user interface. In addition, many of the apps loaded onto the Note II are optimized to work with the S Pen – the pressure-sensitive stylus that comes included with the smartphone. 


While the Samsung Galaxy Note II is definitely no slouch with its quad-core CPU running at 1.6GHz, the Acer Liquid S2 has the upper hand when it comes to raw processing power. The latter is equipped with a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800, which is one of the most capable SoCs available today. That makes the Acer Liquid S2 not only faster, at least in theory, but also a lot more future-proof. Nevertheless, the system's overall responsiveness and performance depend on software as well, so we'll pass on drawing any final conclusions until we get to review a final Liquid S2 unit.


The Samsung Galaxy Note II has shown us numerous times that its 8MP camera should not be underestimated. The Acer Liquid S2, however, is shaping up as a worthy competitor with its 13MP main cam. The latter comes with a handful of tricks up its sleeve, such as the quad-LED flash (yes, the smartphone has a whopping four LED lights on its back) to assist in low-light environments, and the option to control focus and exposure independently with the tap of an area of the screen. But most importantly, the Liquid S2 is the first smartphone to offer 4K video recording – footage that can theoretically deliver a lot more detail than what Full HD offers. But then again, we'll see how good the Liquid S2's camera truly is when we get to test it extensively.


In many ways, the Acer Liquid S2 seems to be way ahead of its rival, but the Samsung Galaxy Note II would not give up without a fight. While the former offers a better screen, promises superior performance, and aims to keep things on the UI side mostly stock, the latter may still provide a better user experience on the software side, not to mention that it comes bundled with an advanced stylus enabling a host of new ways for interacting with the device. Yet ultimately, we can't deny that the Liquid S2 is shaping up as a better pick, especially knowing that it will be priced very competitively once it is on the market.

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