Acer has a fairly low profile in the smartphone sector, but it’s done something rather clever with its Liquid Gallant. There are two versions. One has a single SIM card slot, the other has two. No prizes for guessing that the name of the dual SIM version is the Liquid Gallant Duo. Drop the Duo part of the name for the single SIM variant. Expansys was kind enough to send me the Duo for review, so I popped in two SIM cards and set off for an adventure.
First, let’s deal with that question of why anyone would ever want a dual SIM handset. There are two likely scenarios. If you have two phone accounts, say a personal one and a work one, but are keen to carry just one phone, then the dual SIM option might be just what you need (with both SIM slots occupied all the time).
The other scenario is for when you travel abroad and want to buy a local SIM, but don’t want to give up on your home SIM too. Then the second 'abroad SIM slot' might end up being occupied relatively rarely, but it’ll be a cost saver when it is being used.
Dual SIM handsets aren’t exactly widespread, though I have seen examples in the past - the Utano Barrier T180 for instance - and they’re not impossible to get hold of. Still, choices are limited, and if you need the twin SIM feature then you’ll have to be a lot less choosy about features. Which in this case means you’ll have to pay for a handset whose £159.99 price tells you it isn’t going to be top-notch or blisteringly fast.
The good news is that there’s a lot to like about this smartphone considering its price. First off, the design. The build is solid and the phone feels firm in the hand. The headset connector sits on the top edge where it is best suited, and the micro-USB charge connector is here too. I had trouble with this and it is probably the key 'lowlight' of this phone. The standard cable I use to charge oodles of devices did not fit snugly in the slot. Acer’s cable was a perfect fit, though. I didn’t feel confident using my own charger cable, simply because it could easily slip out and thus fail to charge the handset, so I had to carry Acer’s around, too, which is a fairly short cable.
Acer has thought carefully about how to make the most of the dual SIM system and has put a range of options in the phone’s Settings area. You can choose one SIM to be the default in each of 'voice calls', 'messaging', 'data connections' and '3G services', or for each of those you can get the handset to ask which SIM to use every time you select a service. If you are fortunate enough to be able to configure IP calls, then this also becomes available as a choice when you’re selecting a SIM.
This is all very flexible. For those times when you are flicking between a work and personal SIM every day, for example, you’ll want the 'ask me every time' option. On other occasions, you might want to make a one-time selection that’ll make the decision for you till you need to change it.
Bearing in mind that this is a phone that costs well under £200, Acer has had to take some cost-cutting measures, but the net result is a handset that really impresses. The company has made a smart move in not cutting corners with the screen. Of course, you don’t get a top-notch Galaxy S III–esque 4.8in screen with a 1,280 x 720 resolution, but you do get a 4.3in one that offers 960 x 540 pixels. That’s a pixel density of 256ppi and I found things like web browsing and eBook reading quite comfortable.
Video playback isn’t bad either in full screen mode and colour rendition is good enough for everyday use. I’m not a fan of watching video on a handset, but if you are then the Acer Liquid Gallant Duo is up to the job.
Acer has skinned Android 4.0 – yes, this isn’t one of those budget handsets running a really old Android version. The skinning includes a lock screen that shows incoming text messages and lets you unlock to four apps.
There are some other neat software features too. There’s a setting to schedule power on and off – so you can have the handset switch off overnight when you are asleep and come on again before you wake up, and a data usage recorder which copes with two SIMs. The Swype keyboard is configured by default (though easily turned off), and there’s an array of apps including DLNA sharing, barcode scanner, a couple of Bluetooth tools for managing connection and devices, the Chrome web browser, FM radio, file manager, and a collection of widgets.
As for the rest of the specs, well they’re reasonable for a handset at this price. The 1GHz single-core processor copes well, bolstered by 1GB of RAM. There is 4GB of internal storage, which has been reduced to 1.6GB of free space by the various tweaks and additions by Acer. Not great, but it is easy and cheap to add in microSD cards. As for the camera, it has a 5-megapixel sensor and a flash, but there's no front-facing shooter.
Battery life from the 1,500mAh cell is the only real let-down. If my experience is anything to go by, you’ll probably need to find mains power mid-way through the day to be sure of an hour’s music for the commute home.
For the most part Acer has done a splendid job with the Liquid Gallant Duo. Even without dual SIM support, this handset would have achieved a pretty high score. My major complaints are the irritatingly poor fit for my own micro-USB cable and that battery life. Acer could easily have avoided these shortfalls to come up with a complete winner, and they are the reason it gets an eight and not a nine.
Manufacturer and model
Acer Liquid Gallant Duo
GSM 850/900/1800/1900 HSDPA 900/2100
Mediatek MT6575 1GHz Cortex-A9 single-core
4.3in, 960 x 540 pixels
129 x 65.9 x 9.9 mm