Let’s be honest: if you pick up the Liquid M220, it’s not for its lightning-fast performance. With a dual-core, 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon and 512 MB of RAM under the hood, its performance is fine for basic tasks, but stumbles a little when it comes to anything more advanced. To be fair, people who buy this phone are probably only looking to do just that: carry out the most basic of tasks. Again, it’s important to remember what this phone is intended to be – a highly affordable, off-contract, entry-level device – and who it’s intended for.
The performance isn’t straight up terrible, it’s just inconsistent. On the one hand, it can actually handle 3D games quite well (we tested both Crossy Road and Subway Surfers), running them at a steady clip with a smooth framerate. On the other hand, load times are painfully slow, and seemingly innocuous tasks like dismissing an app and transitioning back to the home screen results in a slight pause. Still, it’s hard to knock it too much when it struggles with certain tasks because if top-notch, flawless performance is the sort of thing you want out of your phone, you’re not bothering with the Liquid M220 anyway.
What is a little more difficult to forgive is the painfully small amount of storage. With only 4 GB of onboard memory – and even less once you factor in the OS and the pre-installed software – there really isn’t much room for anything, be it apps, music, or photos. Sure, there’s a microSD expansion slot to help ease the pain a little bit, but it’s still unfortunate.
Equally unfortunate is the fact that the Liquid M220 only supports 3G bands.
Battery Life & Software
The battery life of the Liquid M220 is far and away its strongest trait. Given the power efficiency of the OS, the smaller (and lower quality) display, and the fact that it operates solely on 3G bands, it’s no small wonder that this is the case.
A single charge lasted me three and a half days with the brightness on maximum, Wi-Fi and location settings on, and push notifications for a handful of applications (email, Facebook, etc.). This particular trial also included over half an hour of continuous video streaming, so this wasn’t just a test to see how long it could sit in standby.
A note of disclosure, however: our unit did not ship with a SIM card (or rather, SIM cards, given that we had a dual-SIM unit), so our entire time with the phone was spent only on Wi-Fi with no connection to a data network. While this undoubtedly gave it an edge in longevity, it’s still impressive even if you shave a full day off of the battery life.
We have discussed the Windows Phone platform at length on this site, and while the most recent iteration (Windows Phone 8.1) brings some nice upgrades, like digital assistant Cortana, its primary flaw remains the same: poor app selection. While this does not upset me that much, as I happen to enjoy Windows Phone for its efficiency and integration with Microsoft services that many people use on a regular basis (Exchange email, Office, Xbox Live), I can recognize that this is a major dealbreaker for many other users.
As for the rest of the software, Microsoft mercifully keeps bloatware on its devices to a minimum, so besides the suite of included MS/Nokia apps (Office, HERE Maps, Weather, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, etc.), there is only an FM radio, a podcast manager, and Adobe Reader.
Both of the cameras on the Liquid M220 are as lousy as you would expect for budget phone. As terrible as the quality of the 2-megapixel front-facing camera is, it at least manages to provide some utility by giving users a means to engage in video calls and take selfies, however horrible the two may look.
The same can’t be said of the 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, which is poor enough that it really isn’t all that useful. Even when taking pictures outdoors in good lighting (it was such a sunny day!), there was plenty of noise in the photos I snapped, and the low resolution ensured that all pictures noticeably lacked sharpness. In fact, if you look any closer at the pictures than at a 100% zoom, you will immediately detect traces of pixilation.