Acer's probably not the first name that springs to mind when you're shopping around for a new smart phone. Companies like Apple, Samsung, HTC and Sony might steal all the headlines, but that doesn't mean other brands don't have some interesting tech to offer.
Without a fashionable name and tonnes of advertising to draw your attention, Acer is hoping that a quad-core processor and an affordable price tag will help catch your eye. The Liquid E2 is a 4.5-inch phone running Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, with an 8-megapixel camera on the back.
Should I buy the Acer Liquid E2?
If you're after a beautifully designed, fashionable bit of kit to whip out of your pocket and impress your friends in the pub... then no. The E2's ugly design, with its large, circular speaker grilles is about as far from attractive as it's possible for a phone to be. Its easily scratched plastic back panel means it's not going to get any better looking over time, either.
What it does have is a low price tag. You can rest assured what money you have spent has been put towards good all-round performance, rather than design. Its quad-core chip gave good results for the money and the screen -- while not impressively high resolution -- has quite bold colours.
If you're after an Android phone with plenty of power for under £200, the Liquid E2 is worth a look. Alternatively, save up a little more money and go for the Google Nexus 4. It's £40 more, but its 720p screen, slightly faster processor and sharper design makes it a worthy upgrade if sartorial elegance is important to you.
Design and build quality
So you fancy a sleek, luxurious phone that simply oozes style? Step away from the E2. It's the most sinfully unattractive thing I've laid my hands on in quite some time -- and I'm not just talking about phones. It starts bad on the front -- there's a huge white bezel surrounding the screen, with a very cheap-looking plastic ridge around that.
The back panel is an off-white colour that doesn't match the front and it has two speaker grilles at the top and bottom that look like those round trays you cook pizzas in. The plastic surrounding the one at the top overlaps with the camera unit, making it look like it's been hurriedly squashed in before the plastic had cooled and hardened. Yes, it's cheap, but I don't think that's an excuse for being quite so repulsive.
I at least hoped that the E2 was packing some truly impressive speakers beneath those circular grilles -- particularly as it also bears the DTS surround sound name -- but I was less than impressed. The sound could go quite loud, but I found it distorted unpleasantly at high volumes. It might be okay for YouTube clips or podcasts featuring mostly voices, but don't try blasting your Spotify collection out of it.
The phone doesn't feel particularly flimsy, but nor does it feel like it can take a battering. The screen isn't made from toughened Gorilla Glass, and the matte plastic back panel is very easily scratched, so keep your keys away from it. The body feels fairly rigid though and the buttons have a satisfyingly firm click to them.
It measures 131mm long and 68mm wide so it won't appeal if you're after a palm-sized mobile such as the. Nor will you appreciate its 10mm thickness, which is very much at the fatter end of what I'd expect from new phones.
Around the edges you'll find a volume rocker, power button, 3.5mm headphone jack and micro USB port. Underneath the case is a microSD card slot, which you'll really need to use, as the phone has a mere 4GB of storage. This is a major limitations, as you can't install apps to the card, so you'll need to make sure all your music and videos are on it in order to leave as much room on the phone for apps as possible.
The E2 packs a 4.5-inch screen with a 960x540-pixel resolution, giving a pixel density of 245 pixels per inch. Tech fans among you will have spotted that that's quite a bit less than the Full HD screens of the HTC One or (441ppi), nor is it offering much challenge to last year's 720p phones such as the Galaxy S3 or Nexus 4 (320ppi).
Medium sized text and high resolution images look fine on the screen, although they lack the clarity you'd see on even a 720p display. If you read a lot of fine text on Web pages or ebooks, it might be worth pushing your budget for a higher definition screen.