The big news in mobile for 2015 is that you don’t have to spend nearly S$1000 to get a phone that feels high-end. Acer’s Liquid Jade Z is a lower-end brother to the Jade S released last year, and gets you more-or-less the best style Acer has to offer for around S$300.
But is it actually any good? We took a closer look at MWC 2015.
The Acer Liquid Jade Z is a 5-inch phone that is very much dressed to impress. Yes it’s plastic, but also decked out with the company’s new funky finish. It’s kinda unusual, etching a fabric-like texture into the plastic finish on the back, but at least it’s different.
You’ll find this kind of texture across much of Acer’s 2015 range. Apparently there’s a whole team working on things like the feel of the back. It’s just a shame that everyone else seems to be moving away from using plasticky ‘faux’ textures on the back of their phones. Even Samsung with its glass-back Galaxy S6.
Is Acer trying a bit too hard? Maybe. But you do get the sense that the Liquid Z is a higher-end phone. It’s just 7.9mm thick, after all.
The dimmer switch
The screen is pretty good on paper too. It’s a 5-inch display using an IPS LCD panel of 720p resolution. No, you don’t get Full HD, but 720p sharpness at 5 inches isn’t too bad anyway.
There was one pretty big issue, though. Top brightness was flat-out bad. Despite heading to the Settings menu to ramp it up, the Acer Liquid Jade Z couldn’t really cope with the hard lighting of the MWC 2015 show floor. We hope this was down to a firmware issue, because otherwise it might cause real issues even in grim old Britain.
Android via Acer
What’s actually on the screen is pretty much the Acer norm. You get a custom Acer interface in the Liquid Jade Z, which as usual has a pretty strong green (the colour, not the environmental stance) theme and an ever-so-slightly dated look.
There’s nothing outright wrong with it, but c’mon Acer, virtually no-one still has ‘apps’ and ‘widgets’ tabs in their apps menu.
Still, performance seems perfectly good. The Acer Liquid Jade Z uses an eight-core MediaTek processor, not the generally-more-popular Snapdragon kind. Some people look down on MediaTek CPUs, but there’s no reason too when they’re paired with properly optimised software.
It should have enough power to do justice to those high-end-looking 3D shooty-shooty games too. There’s 8GB of internal storage, but also a microSD card on the Acer Liquid Jade Z’s side under a flap. 16GB would have been nice at the price, but let’s not get too hung up on it.
The feature list
The rear and front cameras have 13MP and 5MP sensors respectively, and this is really sign of how far we’ve one in the last couple of years. Just a couple of years ago this would have been more than we’d get from a flagship. How things change, eh?
There’s 4G too, although that’s something we really expect in a mid-range phone these days.
The Acer Liquid Jade Z sits among a whole new movement in phones, ones that get you ‘HD’ screens and slightly higher-end design without charging all that much money for the privilege. That's a very good thing.
Let's just hope the final production model has a brighter screen than the one we saw demoed.