The iPhone may have the cache on cool factor and the BlackBerry still holds sway on the business set, but Android smart phones sales are quickly overrunning both handsets.
As app developers flock to the Google mobile OS platform, consumers relishing the maverick image that Android engenders are now faced with a sea of Android options from various handset manufacturers. One of the latest devices now available in Canada through Rogers Wireless is the Liquid Metal (MT) smartphone made by Taiwanese laptop manufacturer Acer. The phone is available in Canada on Rogers Wireless.
A quick look at the Liquid Metal’s specs reveal that it is not quite up to par with current dual core offerings like the Motorola Atrix, but testing the handset we found it a very capable smartphone for users seeking the Android experience for a fraction of the cost of many high-end phones using the OS.
Liquid MT specs at a glance:
- Android OS v2.2 (Froyo)
- GPS with A-GPS support
- Internal 512 MB RAM and 512 MB ROM
- 3G HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps; HSUPA, 2 Mbps
- Qualcomm MSM 7230 chipset
- Dolby Mobile sound enhancement
- Wireless LAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, UPnP
- Bluetooth v2.1 + A2DP
- Screen resolution of 480 x 800 pixels
- 1500mAh Li-Ion battery
- 5 mega pixel camera
- 800 MHz Scorpion processor
- Adreno 205 GPU
- MicroSD card support up to 32GB
- MicroUSB v2.0 port
Rogers pricing structure for the Liquid Metal is as follows:
• $399.99 (no term contract)
• $349.99 (1 year contract)
• $299.99 (2 year contract)
• $49.99 (3 year contract)
As an entry-level Android device, the Acer Liquid Metal presents a very attractive package. The overall heft and thickness of the device, uncluttered lines, and colour scheme gives it that solid feel.
Encased in black plastic, chrome trim and a mocha stainless steel battery panel, the ergonomically curved device exudes a sense of class and durability the moment you take it into your hands. Personally, I prefer its looks to the iPhone 4 which appears to be an overly thin sardine can or the dated style of the BlackBerry Curve.
The MT has a 9.16 cm (3.61”) capacitive touchscreen with multi-touch, proximity and light sensors. The phone is 115mm (tall) x63mm (wide) x13.55 (thick) and weighs about 135g.
I clued in on this a bit late, but a nice feature of the phone is that you don’t have to turn on the screen to find out what’s going on. The device has three LED notification icons at the top. The icons light up when there is a missed call, unread message and when the battery power has dropped to a certain level. This way you can keep the phone holstered in its case.
The screen size is just right. Touchscreen operation is smooth and haptic feedback is great. Text and images appear clear and crisp although at times response time is a bit slow. The screen is not smudge proof, so I had to frequently clear out fingerprints and smudges.
Voice and messaging
Making and receiving calls in different spots in the Greater Toronto Area was a breeze. Reception was great and consistent. There were no dropped calls. Other reviews have mentioned lack of clarity in the volume, but I did not experience this with the unit I had. Even voice dialing in the car or outdoors went through without a hitch.
Liquid MT runs Android 2.2 Froyo with Adobe Flash 10.1. It supports voice dialing and contact sharing over Bluetooth, WiFi functionality and US tethering.
Web browsing was also very pleasant. HTML Web pages loaded quickly. I was able to scroll, pan and zoom in and out of images effortlessly. Transition from portrait to landscape views was similarly effortless.
The phones dial pad is well spaced. There are shortcuts for call logs, contacts and favourites. A predictive dialing feature brings up on the screen what the phone thinks if the number you are attempting to dial. The feature also displays the country of origin of unknown incoming calls.
Sending text messages is easy with the QWERTY keypad. Again the predictive feature suggest possible words you might be thinking of as you begin to type them. I found the email and messaging application which supports Gmail and Talk, well organized and easy to use.
Other preloaded apps include MobileBack, nemoPlayer, Facebook, Twitter, Documents, RoadSync, Navigation, Latitude, Places, Spinlets, Talk, Java ME, and Barcode Scanner.
One of the difficulties I had was that the applications do not share the same on and off conventions. While activating the apps were very similar throughout, signing off from Facebook would be done one way and doing the same on Facebook would require finding another button in a different location.
Social and mized media
One feature that might daugther found very useful was the phone’s Social Jogger. The widget allows users to receive updates from Twitter and Facebook friends directly on the home screen and allows her to post comments, pictures and video directly from the Social Jogger interface as well.
The music player supports MP3, with the addition of a built-in FM radio. The video player supports MPEG4, H.264, XviD, and WMV. The Dolby Mobile equalizer enhanced music and video playback adequately.
The Liquid MT’s camera gave mixed results. Some photos was grainy or blurry, but in other instances I got very got colour saturation and clear images. Video recording provided clear and smooth images indoors and outdoors.
The 1500 mAh battery provided adequate power for the Liquid MT. I was able to eke out eight hours from it when the phone was in frequent use which included Web browsing, phone calls, pictures, text messaging and gaming.
Light usage which included several hours of the phone being idle made the battery last for just under two days.
The Acer provided good call quality as well as excellent text messaging and Web browsing functionalities. The social media integration and various apps also come in handy.
Camera performance produced checkered results but I enjoyed the Doby Mobile sound quality.
I think the Acer Liquid Metal is a durable and sleek handset that would be an ideal smartphone for someone looking to get their feet wet on the Android experience on a low cost alternative to the likes of the HTC Desire Z and the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate.
Nestor is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blogs on ITBusiness.ca Blogs and join the ITBusiness.ca Facebook Page.