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MWC 2013: Acer Liquid E1 and Liquid Z2 hands-on preview

You can add Acer to the long list of vendors showing Android phones at Mobile World Congress this year. We got a chance to have a play with the Acer Liquid E1 and Liquid Z2, two midrange phones for buyers on a budget.

As you might expect from lower priced devices, these aren't the most exciting phones we've seen at MWC. But to its credit, Acer has added a few touches to make them more compelling.

Let's start with the E1, the higher-end of the two (pictured above). It's built around an unremarkable 4.5in IPS display, with a 960 x 540 resolution. The design is all plastic and a little generic, with a red speaker grille in the earpiece that echoes some phones from HTC. The specs are no more inspiring, with a dual-core 1GHz processor powering the action, and a 5-megapixel camera to snap photos.

The most interesting features are DTS audio and the dual set of speakers on the back of the phone. There’s one round metallic speaker port on the top, and one on the bottom. It was far too noisy in the room to get a proper feel for the sound, but even with two speakers, I could tell that the audio wasn't particularly booming.

The Liquid Z2 (pictured below) is a lower-end smartphone, aimed at beginners making the transition from feature phones. It comes with a feature called "quick mode," which is basically an app launcher with a simplified interface.

We've seen features like this before, and they’re not for smartphone lovers, but could be relatively helpful for newbies.

Too bad the rest of the phone is pretty lacklustre. The all-plastic design has a cheap feel, and the 3.5in, 480 x 320 display is kind of painful to look at nowadays.

There's a 3-megapixel camera, and all the action is powered by a 1GHz processor. The Z2 and E1 are both running Android 4.1.1.

If you’re interested, you can already pre-order the Acer Liquid Z2 for £89 at Asda (in fact, rather unusually, it was up on the supermarket’s site before MWC). The Liquid E1 will cost approximately double that, and should weigh in around the £170 mark.