Notebookcheck

Review Acer Liquid S2 Phablet

Daniel Schmidt (translated by Vinay Pradhan), 01/30/2014

Big brother. The Taiwanese manufacturer surpasses its S1 model with the latest Acer Liquid S2. The smartphone is equipped with a Full HD screen, a fast Snapdragon 800 processor and a 13 MP camera, which can even record UHD videos. This places it comfortably in the high-end category. The price for this hardware is high, as is to be expected.

For the original German review, see here.

The Acer Liquid S2 is a 5.98-inch smartphone which can easily be tagged as a "phablet". The device is available in black and red and is available starting at 539 Euros, ~$729 (RRP 599 Euros, ~$810).

The hardware and size of the test model are both above those of the Liquid S1. The latter is equipped with a HD screen, a weaker MediaTek SoC, less RAM and storage and fewer communication options. The panel diagonal of 5.7-inches is also a little smaller. However, despite all this, it is also much cheaper: 284 Euros (~$384).

Due to the positioning in the upper class, our test model has fierce and high-quality competition. This includes the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (499 Euros, ~$675), the Sony Xperia Z Ultra (423 Euros, ~$572) and Nokia Lumia 1520 (594 Euros, ~$804). However, even cheaper devices, like the Asus Fonepad Note 6, the Huawei Ascend Mate and the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 are worth a look. Can the UHD video camera set our test model in a class of its own? We will see in our in-depth review.

Case

Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protects the panel.
Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protects the panel.
A strong red is an unusual color choice, but it is quite attractive.
A strong red is an unusual color choice, but it is quite attractive.

The case of the Acer Liquid S2 is made entirely of synthetic material. The build height of 9 mm and weight of 231 grams makes our phablet a little slimmer than its little brother, but also heavier. Despite the size, the device fits nicely in our hands.

When we pressed the test model, it made loud and clear creaking sounds. Furthermore, pressure on the rear of the device led to forming on the screen. The Nano SIM flap must be opened using the tool delivered with the phone or with a sharp object. The design of the flap makes it protrude slightly from the case. The MicroSD slot next to it has to be opened with the finger, which proves to be an awkward endeavor, but when it is closed, it sinks seamlessly into the case.

The back flap of the S2 cannot be removed, which means that the battery is integrated into the device.

Features

The Acer Liquid S2 has a combined headphone/microphone jack, which can be found on the top of the device. The USB 2.0 port on the side is primarily for charging the phablet but it can also be used to connect external storage devices or charging the device (if we have an appropriate OTG adapter). The port does not support video playback.

The memory card slot accepts MicroSD cards up to 128 GB (SDXC). This is quite useful, as Ultra HD video production requires a lot of space.

Top: audio, power
Top: audio, power
Left: two speakers
Left: two speakers
Bottom: two microphones
Bottom: two microphones
Right: USB 2.0, card slot, SIM, volume rocker
Right: USB 2.0, card slot, SIM, volume rocker

Software

The Acer Liquid S2 uses Google Android 4.2.2. A newer version would have been more desirable. The Taiwanese manufacturer has also stuck to the same old app collection and their own Float UI. The features are described in detail in the review of the Liquid S1. Nothing has been changed.

Aside from the Acer and Google apps, we have a handful of applications from third-party manufacturers, which includes Polaris Office 5.

GPS test: outdoors
GPS test: outdoors
GPS test: indoors, after five minutes
GPS test: indoors, after five minutes

Communication & GPS 

The communication modules of the Acer Liquid S2 leave no room for complaint. The integrated WLAN module supports the IEEE 802.11 standards a/b/g/n/ac and operates on the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz frequencies. The range of the components is decent. We had an above-average signal quality 15 meters from the router (Fritz!Box 6360) and surfing the web was only slightly delayed. DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC are also supported.

These all sound great on paper, but the coverage of the HSPA+/UMTS modules is quite meager. LTE is only supported on three bands and is of the old standard, which allows for transfers up to 100 MB/s. As the S2 aspires to place itself in the high-end category, we would have expected to see a wider coverage of frequencies, but sadly our test model only offers the coverage of a middle-class model.

The location service is aided by GPS and Glonass sensors. Outdoors the signal strength is quite good, but indoors (GPS test app), we were offered different satellites, yet it took the test model over 7 minutes to get an exact fix on our location. On-the-go, the sensor is not great - the Garmin Edge 500 shows some distinct differences.

Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500

Telephone and Speech Quality

The speech quality of the Acer Liquid S2 is quite good as long as the phablet is kept pressed against the cheeks. We could hear our partner well and our audio was transmitted without distortions. However, if the speakers are turned on, the audio suffers from slight distortions. Using the provided headset exacerbates the distortions on our partner's end: our voice breaks off sporadically and is distorted. However, we could understand our partner well.

Cameras & Multimedia

The webcam of the Acer Liquid S2 has a 1.2 MP resolution (1280x960 pixels) and offers decent results in good lighting. The main camera on the back of the device is a 13 MP sensor, which captures 16:9 (resolution of 4128x2322 pixels) and 4:3 pictures (4128x3096 pixels). The camera (24 mm, f/2.2) is supported by auto-focus and a picture stabilizer. Furthermore, we should be able to capture pictures and videos in the dark using the ring flash, which is composed of 4 LEDs.

The camera recordings are relatively good, but they cannot stand up to those of the top models in this category. The camera often has problems if the area is lit at varying levels of brightness. This issue can be clearly recognized in the surroundings photo. The hedge at the front turns into a green and black mess, whereas with the Nokia Lumia 1020 we could count the individual leaves.

Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Acer Liquid S2
Sony Alpha 57 (reference)
Sony Alpha 57 (reference)
Sony Alpha 57 (reference)
Sony Alpha 57 (reference)
Sony Alpha 57 (reference)
Sony Alpha 57 (reference)
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4

The Ultra HD video capture is a special feature of our test model (4k, 3840x2160 pixels). The video can only be recorded at 30 frames per second, which can lead to micro-stutters when playing on an external monitor/TV. We would have liked the option of recording at 25 fps. Full HD videos are captured at 60 fps and capture modes like time lapse are also offered.

Accessories

The delivery of the Acer Liquid S2 is limited: a 10 W power adapter (5 Volt, 2 A), a USB cable, a short manual, warranty information, a SIM slot tool and in-ear headset. Acer does not offer optional accessories at this time.

Warranty

The phablet is insured by Acer for 24 months. Accessories and battery are covered by the warranty for 12 months. In case of damage, the Liquid S2 can be sent for repair or brought to an Acer store. Furthermore, 180 days of extensive software support are included in the price. The Taiwanese manufacturer does not offer a warranty extension.

Input Devices and Controls

The capacitive touchscreen of the S2 recognizes up to ten fingers simultaneously. The input is recognized quickly and executed reliably. The display recognizes input even in the corners. The sliding properties of the surface are quite good, but not entirely satisfying. If you move your finger over the glass, you will notice that it is a little wavy at irregular spots. In everyday use, this is not disturbing.

Unlike in the Liquid S1, Acer does not choose a standard keyboard layout (of Google Android 4.2), but rather uses its own. The virtual keyboard looks nice and offers shortcuts. The available space is well-used. In portrait mode, a lot of content remains visible, but due to the size of the phablet, it will not be possible to type with only the thumb of one hand. In landscape mode, the keys are much larger and allow for more comfortable typing.

Portrait mode
Portrait mode
Landscape mode
Landscape mode

Display

The Acer Liquid S2 has an IPS display with a diagonal of 5.98-inches. The reflective surface is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The Full HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels is quite good. The display format is 16:9 and has a pixel density of 368 PPI.

The brightness of the panel is a max 435 cd/m² - quite high. The illumination of 88% is well-balanced. This is quite a good performance, as the competitors in this class are known to perform a little worse. The Xperia Z Ultra and the Galaxy Note 3 offer a mere 81%. The Nokia (421 cd/m², 86%) and Asus (491 cd/m², 88%) competitors can stand their own. Screen bleeding was not noticeable in our test model, but we did not notice a slight clouding when the screen was completely black.

388
cd/m²
428
cd/m²
400
cd/m²
403
cd/m²
435
cd/m²
406
cd/m²
381
cd/m²
407
cd/m²
405
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 435 cd/m²
Average: 405.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 435 cd/m²
Black: 0.25 cd/m²
Contrast: 1740:1

The LCD IPS panel of the Acer Liquid S2 delivers an amazing black value of 0.25 cd/m² and a lovely contrast of 1,740:1. These values are only trumped by the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, whose Super AMOLED screen has a theoretical black value of 0 and thus offers a contrast which goes to infinity.

The calibration of the panel is quite good. The colors seem a little dark, but otherwise, the measured values were all quite good. The gray levels (dE 3.8) and the mixed colors (dE 3.6) stay within limits and give us no reason for complaint. At full brightness, a slight green tinge is visible.

Color accuracy (sRGB)
Color accuracy (sRGB)
Color saturation (sRGB)
Color saturation (sRGB)
Mixed colors (sRGB)
Mixed colors (sRGB)
Gray levels (sRGB)
Gray levels (sRGB)

Outdoors, the Acer Liquid S2 left us with a good impression. High brightness and contrast allow the panel to remain clearly legible even in bright surroundings. The reflective surface mars the otherwise great impression we have, as it causes strong reflections under direct sunlight. If you are taking the smartphone out of your pocket, you will need to give the brightness sensor a second or two to adjust the brightness levels.

The Acer Liquid S2 outdoors.
The Acer Liquid S2 outdoors.
Good viewing angle stability.
Good viewing angle stability.

The viewing angle stability of the Acer Liquid S2 is quite good. This is to be expected of the IPS technology in our device. If the panel is titled more than 40 degrees, we notice a slight drop in brightness. The colors do not change (subjective). We could comfortably tilt the phone up to 170 degrees, but had to be careful of the reflections off the glass surface as they could turn the screen illegible.

Performance

Acer has picked one of the fastest SoCs on the market for the Liquid S2: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 offers a clock speed up to 2.3 GHz. Like other manufacturers, Acer sets the clock speed a little lower so as to make it easier on the cooling and reduce the power consumption. As such, this Snapdragon 800 SoC of our test model is the weakest amongst the competitors as it runs at up to 2.15 GHz. Only the Galaxy Note 3 allows the core to live up to its potential. The Lumia 1520 and Xperia Z Ultra use a 2.2 GHz configuration. The Qualcomm Adreno 330 graphics chip and 2 GB RAM round off the package. This hardware will not be outdated in the near future.

The benchmarks confirm the high performance. Only the competitors, which use a slightly version of the SoC, can offer a little bit more performance than our test model. The difference is clearest in the AnTuTu benchmark. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is about 13% faster than the S2 although it has more than 50 MHz more clock speed available. However, this difference will hardly be noticeable in everyday use. The graphics chip delivers the expected performance and runs at full speed. The slightly worse results in 3DMark (Ice Storm Unlimited: 15,700 points) could be due to a few limiting hardware components or measurement errors. In comparison to the SoC in the Asus Fonepad Note 6 (Atom Z2580) or the Samsung Galaxy Mega (Snapdragon 400), our test model is far superior.

The Liquid S2 also has a power-saver mode, which limits the performance of the processor. The clock speed is limited to 729 - 960 MHz for normal operations. The clock speed is temporarily raised to 2,150 MHz when the system believes that the user requires more performance. In the Stability test app, this switch was a little clumsy and led to stutters. In everyday use, the lower CPU speed is only noticeable when starting apps.

GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
23 fps ∼3%
Huawei Ascend Mate
22 fps ∼2% -4%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
8.9 fps ∼1% -61%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
6.2 fps ∼1% -73%
Nokia Lumia 1520
13 fps ∼1% -43%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
21 fps ∼2% -9%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
24 fps ∼3% +4%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
23 fps ∼6%
Huawei Ascend Mate
35 fps ∼10% +52%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
9.2 fps ∼3% -60%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
10 fps ∼3% -57%
Nokia Lumia 1520
25 fps ∼7% +9%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
22 fps ∼6% -4%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
25 fps ∼7% +9%
3DMark (2013)
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
15700 Points ∼9%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
7221 Points ∼4% -54%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
16907 Points ∼10% +8%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
17112 Points ∼4%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
6595 Points ∼2% -61%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
17791 Points ∼5% +4%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
12181 Points ∼21%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
10809 Points ∼19% -11%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
14403 Points ∼25% +18%
Linpack Android / IOS
Single Thread (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
404.992 MFLOPS ∼40%
Huawei Ascend Mate
46.73 MFLOPS ∼5% -88%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
136.536 MFLOPS ∼13% -66%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
171.088 MFLOPS ∼17% -58%
Nokia Lumia 1520
236.164 MFLOPS ∼23% -42%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
441.228 MFLOPS ∼43% +9%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
438.918 MFLOPS ∼43% +8%
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
931.86 MFLOPS ∼38%
Huawei Ascend Mate
117.211 MFLOPS ∼5% -87%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
281.111 MFLOPS ∼12% -70%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
298.525 MFLOPS ∼12% -68%
Nokia Lumia 1520
944.656 MFLOPS ∼39% +1%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
958.028 MFLOPS ∼39% +3%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
986.355 MFLOPS ∼41% +6%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
872 Points ∼19%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
544 Points ∼12% -38%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
908 Points ∼19% +4%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
914 Points ∼20% +5%
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
2539 Points ∼16%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
1291 Points ∼8% -49%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
2641 Points ∼16% +4%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
2771 Points ∼17% +9%
AnTuTu Benchmark v4 - Total Score (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
29159 Points ∼68%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
21093 Points ∼49% -28%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
32872 Points ∼76% +13%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
31725 Points ∼74% +9%

Legend

 
Acer Liquid S2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei Ascend Mate HiSilicon k3v2 Hi3620, Vivante GC4000, 8 GB SSD
 
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG Intel Atom Z2580, PowerVR SGX544MP2, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 8930AB, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
 
Nokia Lumia 1520 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z Ultra Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB SSD

We used Google Chrome 32 for the browser benchmarks. The scores of our smartphone lay significantly higher than the "faster" competition. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is around 43% slower than our test model in the SunSpider 0.9.1 test. This is due to the older browser version. In the same benchmark, the Nokia Lumia 1520 with its Internet Explorer 10 went undefeated by the Android competition.

The Acer Liquid S2 offers good performance although the preinstalled browser is tangibly slower.

Sunspider - 0.9.1 Total Score (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
758 ms * ∼7%
Huawei Ascend Mate
GC4000, k3v2 Hi3620, 8 GB SSD
1539.9 ms * ∼15% -103%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
1087.2 ms * ∼10% -43%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
SGX544MP2, Z2580, 16 GB iNAND Flash
921.5 ms * ∼9% -22%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
811.7 ms * ∼8% -7%
Nokia Lumia 1520
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
564.6 ms * ∼5% +26%
Octane V1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
4243 Points ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
2169 Points ∼10% -49%
Huawei Ascend Mate
GC4000, k3v2 Hi3620, 8 GB SSD
1373 Points ∼7% -68%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
3743 Points ∼18% -12%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
SGX544MP2, Z2580, 16 GB iNAND Flash
3546 Points ∼17% -16%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
4105 Points ∼20% -3%
Nokia Lumia 1520
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
1004 Points ∼5% -76%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
7220.4 ms * ∼12%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
8574.3 ms * ∼14% -19%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
SGX544MP2, Z2580, 16 GB iNAND Flash
10624.5 ms * ∼18% -47%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
7628.9 ms * ∼13% -6%
Nokia Lumia 1520
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
27066.8 ms * ∼46% -275%
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
870 Points ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
608 Points ∼10% -30%
Huawei Ascend Mate
GC4000, k3v2 Hi3620, 8 GB SSD
495 Points ∼8% -43%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
731 Points ∼12% -16%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
SGX544MP2, Z2580, 16 GB iNAND Flash
734 Points ∼12% -16%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
828 Points ∼13% -5%
Nokia Lumia 1520
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB eMMC Flash
515 Points ∼8% -41%

* ... smaller is better

The Acer Liquid S2 has 16 GB storage. After the first start, the user only has 12 GB available. If you wish to record Ultra HD videos, you will need a large memory card as a single minute of recording requires about 450 MB. This translates to a full 27 GB for an hour of video.

The memory is very fast. Our test model beat the competition in almost every benchmark. Only the Note 3 can surpass our test model everywhere. Furthermore, the Z Ultra is faster in reading small files. All-in-all, a good performance.

AndroBench 3
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
103.17 MB/s ∼58%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
49.79 MB/s ∼28% -52%
Huawei Ascend Mate
GC4000, k3v2 Hi3620, 8 GB SSD
35.25 MB/s ∼20% -66%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
SGX544MP2, Z2580, 16 GB iNAND Flash
69.6 MB/s ∼39% -33%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
66.14 MB/s ∼37% -36%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
107.53 MB/s ∼60% +4%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
17.94 MB/s ∼31%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
7.48 MB/s ∼13% -58%
Huawei Ascend Mate
GC4000, k3v2 Hi3620, 8 GB SSD
7.43 MB/s ∼13% -59%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
SGX544MP2, Z2580, 16 GB iNAND Flash
13.74 MB/s ∼24% -23%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
17.22 MB/s ∼30% -4%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
29.08 MB/s ∼50% +62%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
11.91 MB/s ∼57%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
9.3 MB/s ∼44% -22%
Huawei Ascend Mate
GC4000, k3v2 Hi3620, 8 GB SSD
6.75 MB/s ∼32% -43%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
SGX544MP2, Z2580, 16 GB iNAND Flash
10.31 MB/s ∼49% -13%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
13.37 MB/s ∼64% +12%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
16.05 MB/s ∼77% +35%
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Acer Liquid S2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1.4 MB/s ∼45%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
0.38 MB/s ∼12% -73%
Huawei Ascend Mate
GC4000, k3v2 Hi3620, 8 GB SSD
0.5 MB/s ∼16% -64%
Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 ME560CG
SGX544MP2, Z2580, 16 GB iNAND Flash
0.98 MB/s ∼31% -30%
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
1.1 MB/s ∼35% -21%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
2.21 MB/s ∼70% +58%

Games

The Qualcomm Adreno 330 offers the Acer Liquid S2 enough graphics performance to fluidly run any game from the Play Store. The chip will continue to offer good performance for the near future.

The sensors work without issues and the user can fully immerse themselves into the game. The slight bumps in the display we previously described do not disturb the user.

Epic Citadel: High Performance
Epic Citadel: High Performance
Epic Citadel: High Quality
Epic Citadel: High Quality
Epic Citadel: Ultra High Quality
Epic Citadel: Ultra High Quality

Emissions

Temperature

The surface temperatures of the Acer Liquid S2 while idle can reach up to 35.2 °C. The Huawei Ascend Mate (max. 36.2 °C) is the only competitor which gets hotter while idle. The user will be surprised by how warm the smartphone is in the hand.

At load, the emissions rise up to 44.7 °C. The temperatures are reached using the Stability test app (CPU+GPU), which puts the system at high load for an hour. The phablet gets quite warm during this time, but the measured value is not critical for the device or uncomfortable for the user. Furthermore, these temperatures will never be reached during everyday use, as this stress test represents an extreme case scenario.

 26.9 °C28.7 °C34.6 °C 
 27.7 °C29.5 °C35.2 °C 
 27.5 °C29.0 °C33.1 °C 
Maximum: 35.2 °C
Average: 30.2 °C
33.1 °C29.6 °C26.3 °C
30.9 °C29.0 °C26.2 °C
32.0 °C30.1 °C26.4 °C
Maximum: 33.1 °C
Average: 29.3 °C
Power Supply (max.)  31.3 °C | Room Temperature 22.2 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speakers

The so-called dual speakers of the Acer Liquid S2 are installed in the left side of the device. The positioning is quite good as the sound is clear even if the hand covers one speaker while holding the device. Furthermore, the device can be put on the table without fearing that it would dampen the speakers.

The audio quality of the components could have been a bit better. During music playback, the highs are a bit dull and the middles are barely noticeable. Bass is present but weak. The Dolby Digital Plus support is in the form of an app, which allows the user to finetune the settings. This gets good results especially during movie playback.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption of the Acer Liquid S2 measures between 0.8 and 2.2 W while idle. The power consumption lies at the same level as the competitors as they also use the same SoC. At load, the power consumption rises up to 3.8 W which is quite low. The most conservative phablet we had so far was the Sony Xperia Z Ultra (6.1 W), which was equipped with the Snapdragon 800 processor. We hope this translates to good battery life.

While turned off (0.0 W) and in standby (0.1 W), the device has ideal power consumption values.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.1 Watt
Idle 0.8 / 1.9 / 2.2 Watt
Load 2.8 / 3.8 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

The Acer Liquid S2 has a 3,300 mAh battery. This should allow the smartphone to run for a long while as the power consumption is quite low. We measured the max runtime using minimum brightness, "Power Saver" mode and deactivated communication modules. Only the WLAN stays on, as we run a browser script which simulates the reading of a book. The phablet lasts over 16 hours.

The minimum runtime was measured using max brightness and all features turned on. The Stability test app was run so as to put both the CPU and GPU at full load and thus empty the battery as quickly as possible. After three hours, the smartphone is dead.

The "surfing via WLAN" test proves more practical in this section. We run the smartphone at a brightness of 150 cd/m² with only the WLAN on. During the test, a browser script loads a website every 40 seconds. The runtime of 14 hours and 33 minutes is great and is only surpassed by the Note 3 (18 hours).

In the video test, we run the Big Buck Bunny video in an endless loop with WLAN off. The smartphone lasts 4 hours and 30 minutes, which is quite good, but not comparable to the 14 hours of the Nokia Lumia 1520.

Overall, our test model offers good results, although we expected longer runtimes due to the lower power consumption values.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
16h 17min
WiFi Surfing
14h 04min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
4h 34min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 57min

Verdict

In review: Acer Liquid S2. Test model provided by Acer Deutschland.
In review: Acer Liquid S2. Test model provided by Acer Deutschland.

Although the Liquid S2 could not take the throne, this phablet is a success. The bright display with strong contrast is instantly amiable. The brightness sensor could use some work though.

The camera captures above-average pictures. The Ultra HD function is a nice feature, but few users will find it immensely useful. Thankfully, there are many features offered in Full HD as well. Thanks to the MicroSD slot, even if the user gets short on the space available internally, they can upgrade their storage by up to 128 GB.

The battery life is surprising: We expected longer runtimes as the power consumption values were quite low. In this section, the S2 shows slight weakness in video playback (shorter battery life than its competitors). Overall, however, we found its performance to be good (even in the battery life). As such, the small workmanship flaws, which should not be present in this price class, are not a serious matter. The GPS sensor should be much better and more importantly, it should work faster. Furthermore, the frequency coverage is meager for the mobile connection modules. All-in-all, the Acer Liquid S2 gave us the impression of a very good middle-class phablet with the ambition to reach higher.

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In Review: Acer Liquid S2. Test model provided by Acer Deutschland.
In Review: Acer Liquid S2. Test model provided by Acer Deutschland.

Specifications

Acer Liquid S2

:: Processor
:: Memory
2048 MB
:: Graphics adapter
Qualcomm Adreno 330, Core: 450 MHz
:: Display
5.98 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, ten fingers supported, IPS, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB , 11.96 GB free
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: Combined headphone/microphone jack, Card Reader: MicroSD up to 128 GB (SDHC, SDXC), Sensors: Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, G sensor, gyroscope and digital compass, GPS, aGPS, Glonass, NFC
:: Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a b g n ac), 4.0 Bluetooth, GSM (850, 900, 1,800 and 1,900 MHz), HSPA+/UMTS (900 and 2,100 MHz), LTE (800, 1,800 and 2,600 MHz)
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8.99 x 166 x 86.2
:: Weight
0.231 kg Power Supply: 0.056 kg
:: Battery
Lithium-Ion, 3,300 mAh
Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 13 h, Standby 2G (according to manufacturer): 700 h
:: Price
599 Euro
:: Operating System
Android 4.2
:: Additional features
Webcam: Rear: 13 MP with Flash, Front: 2 MP, Speakers: Dual speakers, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, Power adapter, Headset, Manual, SIM tools, Acer Apps: Shell 6.0, Float Caller, Float Maps/Notes/Camera/Calculator, Live Screen, Auto Profile, Data Traffic Manager, Cloud Docs, Print, Cloud Music, Cloud Photo, etc., 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The delivery does not hold any surprises.
The delivery does not hold any surprises.
A 5.98-inch screen (diagonal).
A 5.98-inch screen (diagonal).
The Full HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels is nice.
The Full HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels is nice.
A status LED is placed on the right of the brightness sensor.
A status LED is placed on the right of the brightness sensor.
Webcam recordings.
Webcam recordings.
The sensor keys react promptly.
The sensor keys react promptly.
The back is flashy.
The back is flashy.
The camera is noticeable due to its ring of LEDs (flash).
The camera is noticeable due to its ring of LEDs (flash).
The Dolby logo shines on the back.
The Dolby logo shines on the back.
The provided tool allows us to open the Nano SIM slot.
The provided tool allows us to open the Nano SIM slot.
The 10 W power adapter is strong enough for our needs.
The 10 W power adapter is strong enough for our needs.
The Float UI provides a nice experience.
The Float UI provides a nice experience.
Google Android 4.2.2 is Acer's choice for the Liquid S2 OS.
Google Android 4.2.2 is Acer's choice for the Liquid S2 OS.
Plenty of preinstalled apps.
Plenty of preinstalled apps.
An office package is also preinstalled.
An office package is also preinstalled.
A mere 12 GB is available for storage.
A mere 12 GB is available for storage.
The Snapdragon 800 runs at 2.15 GHz.
The Snapdragon 800 runs at 2.15 GHz.
Geekbench 3
Geekbench 3
3DMark
3DMark
In "Power Saver" mode, the CPU speed is lowered.
In "Power Saver" mode, the CPU speed is lowered.
Octane 2.0
Octane 2.0
Vellamo
Vellamo
AnTuTu v4
AnTuTu v4
MobileXPRT 2013
MobileXPRT 2013
Geekbench 2
Geekbench 2
AndEBench
AndEBench

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Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, 5.0", 0.17 kg
» Review Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone
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» Review HTC One M8 Smartphone
Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB, 5.0", 0.16 kg

Links

Price Comparison

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Pro

+Fast performance
+Memory can be increased up to 128 GB
+Bright FullHD display with strong contrast
+UltraHD camera
+ac-WLAN
+Good speaker positioning
 

Cons

-Internal memory could have been larger
-Poor coverage of frequencies in the data networks
-Modest, slow GPS reception
-Pressure-sensitive case
-No video out
-Heavy when using with one hand
-Integrated battery

Shortcut

What we like

The FHD panel of the Liquid S2 is impressive: bright, strong contrast and great black value. Combined with the dual speakers, we have a mobile movie theater in our pockets.

What we miss

More internal memory could not hurt, especially considering the demanding memory requirements of the UHD camera.

What surprises us

Acer has not paid attention to the details. A lot of small factors have added up and denied this phablet a great rating in our review: for example, poor GPS reception, meager frequency band coverage, a sensitive case, etc.

The competition

The competitors are Nokia Lumia 1520, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z Ultra, Asus Fonepad Note 6, Huawei Ascend Mate and Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3.

Rating

Acer Liquid S2
01/24/2014 v3
Daniel Schmidt

Chassis
83%
Keyboard
64%
Pointing Device
84%
Connectivity
42%
Weight
100%
Battery
95%
Display
85%
Games Performance
50%
Application Performance
70%
Temperature
85%
Noise
100%
Add Points
83%
Average
78%
87%
Smartphone *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Acer Liquid S2 Phablet
Author: Daniel Schmidt, 2014-01-30 (Update: 2014-02- 5)