Acer Liquid Mini Review
When it comes to the interface, Android 2.2 Froyo usually speaks for itself, but with the Liquid Mini we have a slightly different case. Folks from Acer have taken their time to give a substantial facelift to the usual looks of the green robot, so that using it is a breeze. Actually Breeze UI 4.0 is the name of the skinning done by Acer. We have already taken a detailed look at all of its features in our review of the Acer Liquid Metal, but question remains how it will perform on the Mini. Unluckily, we were sometimes forced to remember that the handset runs on a rather average 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor helped by 512MB of RAM.
Breeze UI itself has the positive side of a fresh and unique interface, but it definitely would feel better on a faster processor. Your standard Android dropdown notification bar is replaced with a questionable side-scrollable list of settings icons. Long hold on the top part of the homescreen gives you access to homescreen customization and wallpapers. Flicking left brings up history of opened apps, while swiping your finger from the right shows you a quick view of your media. The main menu is trimmed down to only three icon rows, which translates into a lot of scrolling if you happen to use many applications.
Some lag was definitely noticeable when browsing through the menu and even more so when throwing in a couple of apps, not to mention the fact that we experienced the sudden freezing of the screen in apps like the camera and the Twitter client. Actually, we had the misfortune of resorting to the portrait on-screen QWERTY keyboard, which would not retract until we were forced to reboot. This was an isolated instance, but nevertheless it corrupted our impression of the effectiveness of the extensive skinning and made us wonder if skinning the vanilla Android build was a good idea.
In terms of basic functionality, the Acer Liquid Mini offers a standard phone book with support for smart dial. If you want a deeper social networking integration you might be happy to see the Social Jogger app which is basically a rotating wheel with the latest posts of your contacts on Facebook/Twitter. It offers some (questionably) cool looks, but the 600MHz processor just struggles rotating your feeds, so you might be better off using the official Android Facebook/Twitter clients.
The on-screen QWERTY keyboard is of paramount importance for texters and what we see on the Liquid Mini is far from being cream of the crop. The subtle highlights after pressing a key weren't of much use for us, and we often had to correct or slow down our typing.
Software for Android is a topic as wide as the number of apps on the Market, but the Liquid Mini definitely has some limitations when it comes to pre-loaded apps. On the positive side, it does come with the standard Google suite of apps (Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps and Navigation), which is just plain awesome. Except for that, though, you have a couple of apps which look more like bloatware than anything else. Of course you can give music streaming app Spinlets and relatively amusing avatar creation urFooz app a go, but not being able to remove them in an easy manner is annoying. Document editing out of the box is also a no-go as the office app called Docs To Go is installed in a trimmed down version supporting only viewing documents.
Unfortunately, Android fragmentation is an issue you collide with head-on as you use the Acer Liquid Mini. Graphically intensive games like Speed Forge 3D just wouldn't work on the handset, so if you plan on using the phone for gaming you might want to approach it with caution. You can still run the ever entertaining Angry Birds (choppy framerates alert!), but anything slightly more demanding will make your device stumble. For reference, in the Quadrant benchmarking app the handset scored a below average 465 points, placing it below the HTC Desire and just above the already dated Motorola Droid.