Acer’s not known for their smartphones and, if we’re being honest, the Liquid S1 probably won’t change that. At the same time, the new smartphone shown off at Computex 2013 in Taipei looks like it could be a stepping stone to greater things in the future.
The hard specs aren’t too intriguing – the phone runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (with a slight UI change we’ll get to later). It’s a big phone, too – in fact, the Liquid S1 was called a phablet a couple times during the press conference. It has a 5.7” 1280 x 720 display, and runs on a 1.5 GHz quad-core MTK processor. It’ll have 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage that can be expanded with an SD card. There won’t be any 4G or LTE support, although it is dual-SIM, which will be convenient for many. The rear camera is 8 MP, while the front camera is 2 MP with an 88 degree wide-angle lens (so you can get more people in your selfies, according to one Acer rep).
The intriguing part comes with Acer’s Float UI, which specializes in multitasking. Unfortunately, that’s all it is for now – intriguing. A long press on the bottom right button brings up the float menu. If you run an app in Float mode, it’ll appear in a little box that you can resize, minimize, or drag anywhere on screen. They’re also semi-transparent, which is great for multitasking. The problem is that the implementation is limited for now to just four apps – maps, camera, calculator, and note taking. An active phone call can also be floated in the same way. Acer reps suggested that the team is working on ways to implement the Float UI more broadly in future Acer smartphones. Unfortunately, the limited Float UI is still enough to where Liquid S1 owners will have to wait for Android updates – Acer will need to make custom Android updates for the Float UI.
Finally, Auto-Profile can use the phone’s GPS to automatically initiate certain actions that you program once you’ve entered a geofence – turning your phone on vibrate when stepping into your workplace, for example.
Pricing and availability haven’t been nailed down yet, but one Acer rep said he expects the price to be around $350 and for the phone to hit during Q3. He put that price in USD, which is an interesting choice, because there’s no guarantee that the Liquid S1 will actually come to the United States. Again, it’s not going to light the world on fire, but the Float UI (which you can see in action below) is something interesting to keep your eye on, for future Acer smartphones.