Hands-on with the Acer Liquid E3

Acer's latest Android handset on show at Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Congress

Before Mobile World Congress even started, Acer announced a pair of new Android smartphones in its liquid series. Of the two its the Liquid E3 that's a little more interesting, with a more premium looking design and the better class – though still mid-range – of hardware.

To recap, the Liquid E3 has a 4.7-inch 720p IPS display, 1.2GHz quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM. Acer is making a play for photographers especially those who like to take 'selfies' with its 2MP front facing camera and LED front facing flash. Round the back we find a 13MP shooter with a button that can be used to quick launch a designated app or the camera. Software is Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean at launch, but a KitKat is promised at some point down the line.

Despite distinctly mid-range credentials, the Liquid E3 and its unibody design is actually pretty nice. The rear button is placed pretty much exactly where you would want it to be when you pick the phone up – or at least when I picked it up – and the display is just fine at this size at 720p. Trade shows aren't the place to test the camera, but it's got a pretty decent shutter speed and takes what look like reasonably good shots.

Acer has customized the software on board but update promise or not it's disappointing to see a phone launch in February 2014 on Android 4.2.2. There are a couple of interesting things on board in particular. When you hit the task switcher you see all open apps on one screen. When you only have four it's pretty clear, but ramp it up and the frames keeps shrinking. Acer was also showing off small apps running over the top of other apps which is useful, but also nothing revolutionary.

The button around back under the camera can be used for two purposes. Tap it once and it will launch an app. Stock for this is to launch the music app, but you're able to remap it to launch any app you want. Hold it down and it launches straight into the camera. What it does, it does well, but it does feel like a little too much for what it accomplishes.

All in all, the Liquid E3 is a nice enough mid-range phone, but the software still disappoints. When it has KitKat that may change, but it really shouldn't be launching on 4.2.2.

Richard Devine