Acer Liquid S1 Hands-On: A Phablet with (Almost) Stock Android

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Acer did its usual thing by unloading a bevy of new product announcements at its Computex 2013 press conference today, including new notebooks, a new desktop and even an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet. But one reveal that may wind up flying under the radar was that of the Liquid S1, Acer’s first foray into the increasingly competitive ‘phablet’ arena.

\"AcerThat scene is still dominated by Samsung and its Galaxy Note II, but does Acer have what it takes one day overthrow that aging device? Well, TechnologyGuide sister site Brighthand went hands-on with the Liquid S1 to find out.

For American consumers, the first thing to note is that this big phone may not be coming Stateside anytime soon. Acer has announced that it’ll arrive in European markets in the third quarter of this year, but hasn’t made any mention of a US release thus far.

That could be a bummer, but according to Brighthand, US phone buyers may not wind up missing much. As far as the Liquid S1’s specs are concerned, things are decidedly average. The phablet sports a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor and 2400 mAh battery, but Brighthand said its 1280 x 720 resolution display “didn’t impress much,” with “slightly dull” colors and “average” viewing angles.

Likewise, the device’s “decidedly plastic” build doesn’t inspire, and its lack of LTE support and small storage (just 8 GB, though it is expandable up to 32 GB through microSD) hint that Acer isn’t preparing beyond an Asian and European launch in the near future.

\"AcerWhere the Liquid S1 did impress, however, was in its software. As Brighthand notes, the device is “almost running stock Android 4.2” thanks to Acer’s notably light UI skin. And even though that overlay isn’t intrusive, its “Float UI” manages to provide some useful functions like its Samsung Mini Apps-esque multitasking capabilities.

As Brighthand describes, those revolve around “mini apps that can open and function simultaneously over each other, other traditional apps, and even phone calls.” A “Float Caller” feature allows for freed up screen space when answering calls, and Brighthand remarked that other mini apps like a calculator, map, note-taking app and email client could all “prove quite useful on the large screen.”

Nevertheless, the device appears to be staying overseas for now. It will cost €349 when it arrives in select markets later this year.

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