Acer announces the Liquid S1: a 5.7-inch smartphone with a near-stock Android experience (hands-on)

Acer keeps the product announcements coming here at Computex, adding a new (and big) Android phone to its new Ultrabooks and Windows tablets. The Liquid S1 arrives with a 720p 5.7-inch display, matching ZTE's Grand Memo in screen size, and marking Acer's first contribution to the five-inches-and-over smartphone club. The phone is bound for Asia and Europe (no US release is planned for now), and it comes appropriately equipped with twin SIM-card slots. There is, however, no LTE radios, something that Acer admits will be arriving in its smaller Android devices first.

Other notable specs include a Mediatek quad-core 1.5GHz processor and 1GB of memory to aid Android 4.2. It's worth noting that the UI here, like we've seen from Acer in recent years, is largely a stock one, both in functionality (the two-finger drag-down menu for settings toggles is here, take that HTC One!) and looks, although there's some additions to the software that we'll outline later. We've managed to get some playtime with the device ahead of its big reveal at Acer's press event, so check out our (literally) earth-shaking first impressions and hands-on video after the break. %Gallery-190009%

Sure, an earthquake might have distracted us mid-way through our time with the smartphone, but the Liquid S1 has plenty of notable points that are worth elaborating on. As we mentioned earlier, the software experience is very similar to the Nexus 4. In fact, the offscreen soft buttons (one of the visible differences from Google's stock offering) are even assigned the same way: back, home and multitask. However, hold down on that multitask button and a pop-up window offers several shortcuts to app windows -- floating widgets that can offer functionality while running on top of any app. It all falls somewhere between Sony's mini apps and Samsung's Multi Window feature. At the moment, Acer's "Float UI" focuses on built-in apps like the clock and calculator, but the inclusion of note, map, email and camera software could prove useful under more extensive use.

Otherwise, according to our brief spell with the Liquid S1, it appears to follow Google's own design ideas pretty closely, with largely the same logos and menu layouts as stock. It's something that separates Acer from many rival mobile manufacturers looking to make their their smartphone offering stand out through software tweaks and aesthetic changes.

The Liquid S1's TFT display was serviceable enough during our hands-on time, although we'd have appreciated a little more brightness. Viewing angles are merely okay, and perhaps predictably do not compare to the smartphone world's current champions. Acer promises that the phone will last through a day of use on its 2,400mAh battery, and the pack is at least replaceable if you're looking for a phone that can handle extended (or heavier) use.

There's also 8GB of storage that can be expanded up to 32GB through microSD, while the whole device felt relatively light in our hand -- it weighs 195g, making it just 15 grams heavier than the smaller-screen Galaxy Note II. Like many big phones of the Liquid S1's ilk, 5.7 inches of display is a stretch for single-handed use and our thumb was unable to get to the outer reaches of the phone. The back of the phone is covered in a pleasant matte finish black plastic which means it's relatively easy to keep hold of despite its size. Likewise, contoured aluminum grips along the sides also help in that regard.

But if you like your smartphones big, you can expect the Liquid S1 to launch (in both white and black options) in Q3 this year across France, Belgium, Netherlands, Ukraine, Russia, UK and Germany, priced at 329 euros (around $427).

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Acer's First 5.7" Mobile Companion Lets Users Take Their Wireless Office and Mobile Studio Everywhere

Acer Liquid S1 opens up more possibilities to explore a new lifestyle

TAIPEI, (June 3, 2013) Acer announces its first "phablet" device, designed to be the new travel companion for professionals and adventurers alike. With a large 5.7" HD 1280 x 720 screen and intelligent applications, the Acer Liquid S1 greatly enhances mobile productivity and entertainment.
Featuring single/dual SIM cards, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, quad-core 1.5 GHz processor, and a day's worth of battery power, the Liquid S1 combines the work efficiency of a tablet PC with the convenience and multimedia-rich features of a smartphone. It is an all-in-one mobile device that opens up more possibilities for users to communicate and explore.

Wireless office at hand

The Liquid S1 is easy to carry and lets users access their documents and files wherever they go. Business people can leave documents behind, knowing that they can wirelessly retrieve their files via AcerCloud Docs. Users can also remotely access files from their main PC through Acer Remote Files. In addition, with the Liquid S1 businesspeople can project their presentations in 720p HD, and print documents straight from their phablet - all using wireless display and print features.

Everything under perfect control

Intuitive and useful applications that boost work productivity and maximize entertainment on the go are preinstalled on the Liquid S1.

Acer Float User Interface allows several app windows to stay open so users can multitask without having to back out of one app to work on another. The press of a key brings up the Float Apps shortcut; apps on a translucent screen float over the function being used. It is easy to access or switch Float Apps anytime. These apps include camera, maps, calculator and notes. A Float Caller notification ensures that users will not be interrupted by incoming calls that take over the full screen. When a call comes in, the Float Caller mini-window pops up and the user can choose to take the call or reply with a quick message.

Acer Auto Profile supports predefined network settings for frequently visited locations, so the next time the user visits the same spot, the Liquid S1 will automatically switch profiles. The adjustable settings include brightness, volume and vibration; plus Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi® and 3G connections.
Voice Unlock directly opens apps or interfaces by recording and using personal voice commands. Users can quickly unlock the Liquid S1 to the home screen, camera, SMS or call keypad by voice, in one easy step, without touch. Acer data traffic manager keeps an eye on daily and monthly data usage, which is especially handy for users who do not have an unlimited data plan.

Mobile studio and entertainment

Bringing the Liquid S1 along is like taking a complete mobile studio on the road. In addition to its spacious 5.7" screen with HD streaming and vivid HD playback, this phablet combines features for photo taking, video recording, and editing and creating media. Everything can be conveniently shared. The studio/entertainment features include:
Wide Front Shot uses the front camera with 88° wide viewing angle plus the 24 mm lens to capture more. The camera and 5.7" screen together capture wider, taller visuals for better wide-angle photos and video conferencing. Voice Shot allows hands-free photo taking just by saying "cheese!". Smile Shot detects smiling faces and automatically captures precious moments in real time - especially useful for taking pictures of babies and young children.

Studio Sound delivers astonishing sound and an extra-wide stereo image. DTS Studio Sound™ brings cinematic audio to mobile devices with a bigger sound field and higher vocal clarity.

Live sharing among friends Through Acer's 2-way Live Screen™ app users can invite friends for temporary group sharing. The group administrator simply taps on a photo or note, and it will pop up on friends' mobile-device screens, enabling live interaction and sharing in real time. Friends can push photos or notes back for 2-way live sharing.

Premium design and materials

The Acer Liquid S1 uses fine craftsmanship and materials to deliver a premium, minimalist design, ideal for assertive businesspeople and passionate explorers. With a slender profile, it features curved details on the front and the sides, aluminum side grips, and is available in matte black or white.

Pricing and availability

The Liquid S1 will start shipping in Q3 2013 in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Ukraine, Russia, UK and Germany, followed by Spain and Italy with a starting price of €349.-

Zach Honig contributed to this report.