Acer Liquid A1 Review

Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone, it can be used with AT&T's 1900MHz 3G band, and with T-Mobile without 3G.

Introduction and Design:

Acer has rolled out several Windows phones since it took over Eten as part of its strategy to invade the cell phone market and what we like most about them is the capable hardware components they are equipped with. It seems what Acer´s first Android-based handset, the Liquid A1, relies on to win over customers is proper hardware as well – it come with 768MHz Snapdragon processor (Qualcomm 8250), 3.5-inch WVGA display, 5-megapixel camera, support for HSDPA 7.2Mbit/s and A-GPS. The device runs OS version 1.6 and the manufacturer has made several, but minor alterations in its interface like, phone book with integration of social networks, but we will tell you about them later on, now let´s see what the Acer Liquid A1 looks like.

What´s in the box?

•    Acer Liquid A1
•    Wall charger with various socket inserts
•    USB cable
•    2GB microSD card
•    Headset
•    User guide
•    Software CD
•    Screen protectors

We would have liked to see the handset ship with a case designed to protect the white phone body, but sadly, the manufacturer doesn’t provide one. Acer has managed to create a unique, recognizable design for their handsets and they always feature symmetrical, rounded upper and lower parts of the body and in the case of the Acer Liquid A1, the 3.5-inch touch-sensitive (capacitive) screen with WVGA resolution takes up almost the space in between almost entirely. Unfortunately, the display will sometimes fail to register your touch, which might get particularly annoying when you type away.

Quite naturally, large screen equates to voluminous body, but in reality, the Acer Liquid A1 looks bulkier than it actually is - its body has almost the same overall size as the iPhone 3GS and is comfortable to use with one hand. The plastic it´s made of doesn’t feel cheap, but doesn’t look particularly scratch or impact resistant either. The Acer Liquid A1 is quite glossy and turns into an intricate lacework of blurry fingerprints quite easily, meaning you will have to clean it up often in order to have it retain its immaculate look.

You can compare the Acer Liquid A1 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

All buttons on the front side are touch-sensitive and for getting back to the home screen, activating the search function, navigating a step back into menus and opening the options menu. The latter acts as a phone lock/unlock button as well, but in order to use it you need to press the power on that activates the display first – in other words, the whole thing is a bit clumsy. The hardware buttons are neatly tucked away into the body of the phone and we had certain troubles with them, because they are located on the bottom side that happens to be slanting, in other words they are relatively hard to press.

The Acer Liquid A1 is equipped with 3.5mm jack and oddly, miniUSB instead of microUSB slot for charging and getting connected to a computer. The light indicators for missed calls, unread messages and battery charging status look pretty cool, but are, rather impractically, located on the top side. We need to point out the battery is pretty hard to remove and we felt as if we were going to break it in the process.

Acer Liquid A1 360 Degrees View:


The Acer Liquid A1 runs Android version 1.6 and the manufacturer has added certain, but minor changes to the interface that affect the phone contacts, home screen and task manager only. All other interface elements are the standard that come with the operating system and pretty much identical to those of the first version of Android that we have already described in details in our review of the T-Mobile G1. Definitely, there is nothing to rival the famous HTC Sense interface here.

The home screen consists of three separate pages. There are brand new widgets, others have been altered. For an instance, the analogue clock shows the local time of various places and time zones and turns dark if it´s at night – in other words, it´s a fully functional world clock. We do like the widget called Power Control that allows for proper management of overused functions like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, synchronization and display brightness. Media and Web Player are active applications that you can use to browse multimedia files and your favourite web content. As a whole the widgets are quite likeable, but their functionality is inferior to what the HTC Sense interface delivers and you can´t do things like reading messages and emails without entering the relevant menus. Moreover, there are quite a few applications at Android Market that install their own widgets, so you are bound to run out of free space on the three pages of the home screen in no time.

Acer has personalized the overall appearance of the task manager, but its functionality is just as limited as before. You can take a look at the last six applications you´ve started and failed to close via the “go back” button. But it´s a cool thing that, unlike all other Android-based handsets that show merely shortcuts to running programs, the Acer Liquid A1 actually displays cards of the active processes, meaning you can see the application the way you left it.

Does the fact that the Acer Liquid A1 sports phone contacts with integration of social networks come as a surprise? Not really, because this is a smartphone feature that is getting increasingly popular these days. You are permitted to automatically link contacts to their corresponding Facebook and Flickr profiles, plus YouTube, Picasa and Twitter can be added manually. In order to get the phone to do this automatically, you will have to make sure the names of the people in your contacts are IDENTICAL to their corresponding account names with the social networks, because even if a single letter doesn’t match, you will have to do everything manually. And this is, by all means, something that you don´t really want to do. For an instance, the list of your Facebook friends cannot be sorted by any meaningful criteria and to top it off, search is disallowed, so even if you happen to have a small number of online buddies, say as many as 50, finding the one you need can become a middle ages torture. Plus, the whole thing is pretty pointless to do anyway. While the benefit of linking your contacts to their profiles on various social networks on devices running HTC Sense is that your phone book gets enriched with relevant pictures and status updates, in the case of the Acer Liquid A1 you will have to manually enter phone book entries in order to see updated information about the linked peope.

Software and Functionality:

We do like the fact that the Acer Liquid A1 comes preloaded with quite a few applications that aren’t developed by Acer. You´ve got Documents to Go to work with Microsoft Office files, RoadSync Calendar and Mail to synchronize your device to Microsoft Exchange server and urFooz that helps you to come up with your own, personal avatar that can be used on various websites. The program called Spinlets may look like quite a promising piece of software at first, because it allows for listening to online music and taking a look at pictures of the artist or band, open their official website, see their web accounts with various internet services etc., but unfortunately, the app offers information on a rather limited range of bands and artists (5-6 per style/genre with 1-2 tracks each) and they change every day. Ultimately, the program might come in pretty handy if you want to find out interesting facts about performers, but is virtually useless as a proper online music library.

nemoPlayer is the default application for all multimedia files, be it audio and video tracks or pictures. Its interface is comfortable and you´ve got various content filtering options.

The Acer Liquid A1 sports a built-in GPS, but comes with Google Maps only. The manufacturer has added automated software update, so you can rest assured your device is up-to-date all the time.

The internet browser is the standard application that comes with Android and as a whole, it´s a proper one. Sadly, Dolphin that can be downloaded from Android Market doesn’t offer multitouch support when running on the Acer Liquid A1 (at the time of the current review), so you will have to make do with more sluggish ways of controlling web navigation.


None of the Android-based cell phones on the market today delivers snapshot quality that is something to write home about and the Acer Liquid A1 isn´t exception to the rule (the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, however, looks promising indeed). It´s equipped with 5-megapixel camera with autofocus, but without flash and its interface is ultra-simplified. You can fiddle with picture resolution, white balance and ISO sensitivity, add several effects and set the shooting timer. The camera itself is sluggish and needs about 3-4 seconds to focus properly and another 4-5 seconds to save the picture you´ve just taken.

As a whole the results are acceptable and at par with the other smartphones in the same class. The images lack proper details and their colors are slightly thin. Sadly, the lack of flash means you better forget about snapshots in low lighting conditions.

The Acer Liquid A1 captures videos at VGA resolution and 20 frames per second and they play relatively smoothly. The overall quality is good, but the sound is mediocre and you can hardly hear what a person that was just several feet away while you were shooting the video was trying to say.

Acer Liquid A1 sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution


As we have already mentioned, the phone is equipped with cool multimedia player and 3.5mm jack. So, is there anything that prevents you from using the Acer Liquid A1 as a personal audio player? Well, no... provided you get yourself a proper pair of headphones, because the boxed set is mediocre. It offers such a sharp sound, that you won´t be able to stand it if the loudness is anywhere near the mid setting or higher. Things get much better the second you plug in a decent set.

The only video format you can watch videos in, meaning without any issues, is MPEG4. We managed to play content with resolution of 1,280x720 pixels and the quality was pretty good. Unfortunately, MPEG4/H.264 files played without sound and only at low resolution (say 320x480 pixels). DivX and Xvid files are not supported at all.


It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Acer Liquid A1 runs very smoothly and there is no lagging or hang-ups with even several active applications - the 768MHz Snapdragon processor is powerful indeed, plus, the device is equipped with ample memory – 256MB RAM. On the overall, the Acer Liquid A1 is slightly faster than the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 that also comes with non-personalized interface and 800MHz processor. However, there are two things we need to point out – first, the additional applications freeze at times, meaning you need to close them via Force Close and second, the accelerometer tends to fail after working for about a day, so you would have to restart the device when this happens.

The in-call quality is pretty good – voices of people sound perspicuous and loud, even if slightly muffled. People on the other end didn’t complain either and rated the quality 8.5/10, meaning really good but not exactly perfect.

According to the manufacturer, the battery of the Acer Liquid A1 should be able to provide up to 5hrs of continuous talks and keep the device operational for about 400hrs. Unfortunately, if the Wi-Fi remains switched on all the time, you surf the Web often and talk for about 20 minutes a day, the battery will hardly even make it through the whole day, so you will probably need to charge the phone on daily basis. However, keep in mind that we didn’t give the battery several full discharge cycles, meaning it might actually perform better if you do.


Similarly to Acer´s latest Windows phones, the Liquid A1 comes with capable hardware that, sadly, is not exactly backed up by elaborate interface personalization, but the difference to Windows Mobile is that Android tends to be more user-friendly barefooted.

All told and keeping the rapid development of the Android market in mind, we rate the Acer Liquid A1 at par with the Samsung Galaxy i7500 and Galaxy Spica i5700. Handsets like the HTC Hero and Motorola MILESTONE/DROID are clearly superior in terms of software. Still, if you happen to be on the lookout for a powerful smartphone and interface personalization is not your cup of tea, consider the Acer Liquid A1. It is a good option and you don´t need to break the bank to get one, because its retail price is lower than the amount you have to fork out for one of the afore-mentioned devices.

Acer Liquid A1 Video Review:


  • Really snappy
  • Proper pre-installed software
  • High in-call quality


  • Mediocre personalization
  • Almost unusable integration of social networks
  • Low quality headset (boxed)
  • Software gets unstable at times

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