Review: Acer Liquid Mini E310
The Acer Liquid Mini – E310 has been released in India as a low to mid price Android 2.2 device. I was in the market for a capable yet inexpensive Android device for my wife and this phone was what finally caught the wife’s fancy. Having bought a low priced Android device in the past, I had realized that the two main places that manufacturers reduce cost in are the display and the processor. My last low cost Android purchase skimped a lot on the display and that was a sore point with that phone. The Mini is not as cheap as the earlier Huawei U8100 that I had bought. For the bump in price the phone provides reasonably good performance and build.
Here is a look at the basic spec sheet with my observations in these.
- Processor: The phone has a 600mhz ARM 11 processor and also an Adreno 200 GPU. This is really nice in my opinion since it helps to run all those animations and transitions a whole lot better.
- Network: Quad band GSM and dual band 3G with a maximum of 7.2mbps download speed. This is fairly standard.
- Display: TFT capacitive LCD with 256k colours. 3.2in with a resolution of 320×480 pixels. If this was anything less than this, there would have been no way I would have bought this phone.
- Memory: RAM – 512mb; ROM – 512mb. Maximum size SD card supported – 32gb
- Connectivity: Wifi 802.11 b/g, DLNA, Native Wifi and Bluetooth tethering, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and EDR. Hope you notices the DLNA there. Haven’t seen this even in some of the more expensive phones.
The specs are very decent. Especially the presence of a discreet GPU. Acer has also managed to match the software and hardware very well to provide a very nice and smooth experience. Like Steve Jobs says, the hardware is not important. It’s the mating if the software and hardware that matters. Lets take a look at the device a little more closely.
This phone has surprisingly solid and lightweight construction. Probably due to the fact that its all plastic and has no metal anywhere
There are capacitive buttons for the usual Android functions. There are no hard keys for call answer and end
The back looks nice and clean with the 5MP camera towards the top and the speaker towards the bottom
Removing the back cover releals the battery which is a 1300mAh and lasts for the whole day
All the slots are only accessible after opening the back cover. Towards the right you can see the SD card slot
The bottom of the phone has the micro USB slot and the microphone
The top of the phone has the power/wake/sleep button and the 3.5mm jack
On the right side of the phone you can see the various buttons that are hidden by the back plate. On the left of the picture are the volume keys and on the right you have the camera key
Unfortunately the only way to access the SIM card is after removing the battery
The device is all plastic, but feels solid. I do worry about opening it up too often since the volume and camera control buttons are built into the back cover. Having moving parts that are that delicate scares me a bit. Also, it would have been better if the SIM card slot was accessible without removing the battery. It also feels like Acer thought the same about these things since removing the back cover is not easy. The back has a nice matte finish and the phone is surprisingly light.
In terms of the software, Android 2.2 does duty on this phone. There is already information that Acer is going to update this to Gingerbread very soon. Acer has put their own skin on top of the OS and on top of the phone app. Acer has also provided the option for you to use the standard Android 2.2 UI instead of their customized UI. No force feeding of Sense or Blur here. Here is a look at the OS with the Acer skin and the standard Android UI.
The phone comes with an Acer skin applied by default. This is the lock screen. Flicking the bottom left curls the screen to unlock the phone. Looks nice
The Acer UI doesn’t have the multiple homescreens that we are all used to. There are basically two. This is the main screen which shows 8 apps for quick access. You can’t hide this tray
Flicking the tray up reveals the app drawer. After that you need to scroll horizontally to see all the apps. Newly installed apps will be on the last screen
This is the second home screen. This shows a really nice carousel of the last run apps. You can launch them from here as well or clear the history
The call log screen has been customized by Acer and looks really nice. The same look follows for the contacts as well
Acer gives you the option to switch back to the standard Android UI in case you prefer that to their skin
The phone is running 2.2 Froyo, but the home screendock sort of looks like it has some Gingerbread aspirations
The OS is fine and both the standard Android 2.2 interface as well as Acer’s UI are very usable. There are also a lot of built in apps in this phone. While some of them are usable, others are just taking up space and they don’t uninstall either. Here is a list of all the built in apps that Acer has included.
Acer registration is a built in app that allows you to register the product with Acer. No need to go to the website
Acer Settings is a built in app that allows you quick access to various functions of the phone. redundant, in my opinion
Acer Sync is a built in app that allows you to synchonise with your PC provided you have Acer Sync installed there as well
The FM Radio has a nice interface but will not run without a headset since it uses that as an antenna
Acer Media Server is a built in app that is supposed to share the phone’s media over your home network. I haven’t been able to get it to work
Nemo Player is a built in app that lets you deal with the media on your phone. You can play around with images, music and videos with this app
Social Jogger is a Twitter and Facebook client. Fancy to look at, but fairly kludgy and too much of an overkill
urFooz is a built in app that allows you to make an Avatar for yourself to use online
Update Notification update is an app that checks for any system updates released by Acer. Very useful
Spinlets Music is a built in app that allows you to stream music from online services. The artist are mostly unknown, at least to me
Documents to go is an in built app that has been provided by Acer with this phone. That’s a savings of 15 dollars right there.
I have been using this phone whenever I get the opportunity and Acer really seems to have done a good job on the software side. You would never feel that the processor is just 600mhz. The experience is smooth and hopefully will be as good when Gingerbread is delivered by Acer for this phone.