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Acer Liquid S1 review - Hands on with new phablet

Seth Barton
3 Jun 2013
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We get to play with the new Acer Liquid S1 and its floating apps

You don't see a lot of Acer smartphones in the UK, but the company has an increasingly large range, of which the latest is the Acer Liquid S1. With a 5.7in display, this is Acer's first 'Phablet’, comparable to the likes of the 5.5in Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – there’s even an optional digital pen, though we’re not sure if the phone has the same pressure-sensitive digitiser screen technology.

Acer Liquid S1

Like the Note 2, but unlike most new flagship handsets, the Liquid S1 only has a 1,280x720 display, so we’re thinking it will be priced competitively. Inside is a 1.5GHz quad-core chipset from MTK, which is unlikely to compete with the best from Samsung or Qualcomm. It only has 1GB of RAM too, most new top-end phones have 2GB now, but it still comes with Android 4.2.

FLOATING APPS

The most interesting part of Android on the Liquid S1 is its multi-tasking abilities, which Acer calls Float Apps. These are activated by a long press on the menu button, which brings up a menu, letting you launch one of the four floating apps: Camera, Maps (Google), Notes and Calculator. Acer hopes to add more later, but feels these are the four most useful and used.

Acer Liquid S1

Here you can see a browser running with two floating apps, the camera in a window and a minimised calculator app

Floating apps open in a window, which is partly transparent, and can be moved around and positioned as you want. You can still interact with the UI behind the app, as long as the floating app isn’t in the way. Floating apps can be ‘minimsed’ down to title bars, or maximised to fill the screen. A fifth floating app is used to accept calls, so incoming calls don’t completely move you away from your current tasks, just accept/deny them, and keep on with what you were doing.

SPECS

The camera is well specified and took some decent shots on the challenging demo area at Acer’s Computex event. It’s a back-illuminated 8-megapixel sensor behind a fast F2.0 lens, so the numbers stack up to support our brief test.

Acer Liquid S1

Other specs tell us that this is a 3G-only handset with no LTE support. It will come in both single and dual-SIM variants, though we’re unlikely to see the latter here in the UK. The battery is a respectable-sounding 2,400mAh, but that’s much smaller than the 3,100mAh in the Note 2, so we might see poor results in this area. At 163x83x9.6 mm and 195g, it’s a good-size considering the size of that screen.

Acer Liquid S1

We’re hoping to see the Acer Liquid S1 in the UK, as it has a lot going for it, though the price would have to be competitive as we can’t see it taking on Samsung’s upcoming Note 3 head-to-head. For more details on that handset see our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 release date, features & price rumours.

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