SMARTPHONE UPSTART Acer unveiled the Liquid S1 hybrid phone tablet or "phablet" device at the Computex trade show in its home country of Taiwan on Monday.
The Acer Liquid S1 looks to challenge the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which has a 5.35in display, with its even larger 5.7in HD touchscreen. We got some time with the device to see how a phone of this size fares in the hand.
Design and build
Ergonomically the Acer Liquid S1 fits well in the hand considering its enormous size. The casing is made from plastic and as a result feels a little cheap. However, this doesn't stand out unless you compare it to metal finished smartphones on the market, and still offers decent build quality. Holding it with both hands and twisting it, we didn't find any flexibility in the Liquid S1's chassis and were happy with its build quality.
One good thing that comes out of the plastic casing is that it makes the device really light and thin, weighing only 195g and measuring only 9.6mm thick.
The Acer Liquid S1 is quite wide when compared to your average smartphone as it measures 83mm across. We had initial concerns that this would make it difficult to hold in one hand, but Acer has finished the back and sides with a soft touch texture material to give it a better grip, making it much easier to grip. Holding the phablet up to your head, it doesn't actually feel as ridiculous as you'd expect when first encountering the large device. Note the picture below of me testing this theory.
On the bottom of the Acer Liquid S1 there are three dedicated haptic controls - back, home and tabs.
Screen and performance
Supporting a 1250x720 resolution, the Acer Liquid S1's display is perhaps its best feature, offering vibrant and rich colours with text appearing clear.
Colour representation is also great and it's also extremely bright so we can imagine that watching videos in HD 1080p resolution on the display would be quite enjoyable. It has quite a high gloss to it, however, so it reflects light easily.
Swiping your fingers across the screen leaves fewer greasy smudge marks than you'd expect, and operations are fluid and responsive thanks to the Liquid S1's quad-core 1.5GHz processor, which ensures there is no waiting for it to complete simple tasks.
Perhaps it's Google's Project Butter feature in Android Jelly Bean that makes tasks on the Liquid S1 run smoothly, but we didn't get enough time with it to give it a performance test or see how it fares compared to its rivals. Check back soon for our full review. One thing we are excited about testing are the Liquid S1's dual SIM card slots so it can be used as both a personal and business device in one.
Operating system and software
Along with the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean mobile operating system (OS), the Liquid S1 comes equipped with Acer's Float user interface (UI).
Acer's Float UI allows you to open recently launched applications and utilities such as the camera, notepad and maps by holding the tabs button on the far right of the phone. This can be executed again to fired open another app, which can be dragged over the top of other apps that are running and moved around, which seems great for multitasking.
Along with all the standard entertainment features of an Android device, Acer has also bundled a few business focused features on the Liquid S1 including its ability to automatically save and wirelessly retrieve office documents via Acer Cloud Docs and remotely access files from a main PC through Acer Remote Files.
For photo taking, the Acer Liquid S1 has both front and rear-facing cameras, the former of which is a 2MP snapper boasting 88 degree viewing angles with a 24mm wide angle lens so it can display more on the screen at once, which is good for video calls.
The rear-facing camera has a 8MP sensor with a 28mm lens, LED flash and support for HD 1080p video recording. Testing this camera, we noticed it fared well in low light conditions, providing a good quality snap with very little lag between pressing the shutter button and the Liquid S1 saving the picture.
Storage and battery life
Acer has given the Liquid S1 8GB of internal memory, which can be upgraded to 32GB via microSD - despite the slot being so well concealed we couldn't find it. It must be embedded next to the SIM slot internally, which were unable to open up due to the alarm wires on the stand.
Acer also didn't mention how long the Liquid S1's 2400mAh replaceable Li-polymer battery will last during the launch, but an Acer representatives told us today that it should be "up to 11 hours". We'll be sure to put it through its paces when we get our hands on a review unit.
The Acer Liquid S1 will start shipping in the UK in the third quarter in matte black or white for a starting price of €349, or around £300. µ