Acer Liquid Jade Z review: slim but hardly insubstantial
Today I’m looking at Acer’s Liquid Jade Z smartphone. This is a midrange model released earlier this year, that looks to set itself apart with a slim design, good camera and near stock Android at a very low cost.
Earlier I did a rapid review review of the Jade Z at an Acer press event, but over the past two weeks I’ve had some more hands-on time with the unit and feel better required to render a full verdict.
Full disclosure: I do part-time work for Team Acer, an eSports team funded by Acer.
The Liquid Jade Z is a slim and unassuming phone, with a glossy front and matte, brushed-texture back. Weighing 110 grams and measuring 7.9mm thick, it makes for a phone that melts easily into your pocket. (I didn’t realise which pocket the phone was in on more than one occasion.)
The phone’s screen is reasonable, with a 720p resolution on a five inch diagonal. The IPS tech used here results in accurate and not super-saturated colours, with good viewing angles too.
The phone has a fairly standard layout: headphones on the top, micro USB on the bottom (and off to one side). The right hand side has two slots, allowing you to use two SIMs or one SIM and one micro SD card.
The button layout is slightly old-fashioned, with a lock button at the top. I much prefer a side placement for this; even on a five inch phone it’s too much of a stretch for me. The buttons are all a little slim and hard to press for my liking, but it’s not a massive deal-breaker by any means.
The overall look of the phone is appropriate for a midrange model, but I would like to see something different from Acer to set the phone apart – a cool Acer green colour option, a more interesting texture, a camera shutter button. Something, at least. As it stands, the Liquid Jade Z is a little boring.
The Jade Z runs Android 4.4 with a light Acer skin (which largely manifests as a green accent colour in various places.) The phone looks to revive updates quite quickly, although low sales volumes means that the phone has a very small community building custom ROMs and other aftermarket features. (There are few Liquid Jade Z accessories available for the phone for the same reason.)
The built-in Acer apps and features are largely useless, but they can be safely ignored, disabled out otherwise removed from play. (A good way to clean out the app drawer is to use Nova Launcher.) One exception are the floating windows, pint-sized apps that can be useful for multitasking (e.g. taking notes from a web page or pulling up a calculator). A bigger screen would make this more useful, but it’s still a nice inclusion.
Acer make a lot of fuss about the camera on the Liquid Jade Z, and it’s not undeserved. The camera’s 13-megapixel sensor produces strong images in good light, although results in poor conditions are less impressive. It’s nice to see a 5-megapixel front-facing camera too, as these are noticeably better than 1 or 2-megapixel units that have been standard for so long, both for selfies and video calls.
Video footage in 1080p is okay, although I miss high frame rate videos from other phones. Autofocus is a little slow too. The camera will never match that of a flagship phone, but given the Jade Z’s price point this isn’t a big disappointment.
The Acer Liquid Jade Z is a good midrange option with only minor weaknesses and some solid strengths – good performance, slick stock Android and a dependable camera. While I’d like to see Acer do more to set their phone apart from the competition in terms of design and features, if you can find the Liquid Jade Z at a good price then it’s definitely worth considering.
- Solid performance for a midrange phone
- Fast and dependable camera in good light
Recent near-stock Android
- Dual sim or micro SD card slot gives good flexibility
- Slim but boring design with little flair
- Small ecosystem for accessories and ROMs
- Button layout and clickiness could be improved