Acer’s Liquid line entry-level Android devices offer some of the perks of more expensive devices while offering basic functionality.

Out of the box, we get a slim and surprisingly lightweight smartphone that’s slightly curved to feel good in the hand.

As a 5-inch device, the Liquid Jade Z is easy to carry and sized right for a larger variety of users. The grey textured backplate makes it easy to hold and the dual circle design on the top and bottom give it a character of its own. The best thing about basic, plastic smartphones is that they usually stand up better to abuse and are less prone to cracking or breaking than more precious and more expensive models.

Ideal as a first smartphone for someone coming from a feature phone, or as a second phone for travelling to another country, the Acer Liquid Jade Z is a model from 2015 and, as such, has 2015 specs. The device runs on Android 4.4.4 (KitKat), with no option to upgrade to a newer version. Considering that we’re not moving to Android 7.1 (Nougat), this may be an issue getting newer versions of apps to run as well as getting the latest versions of Google’s services. The main issue for me is getting security updates for the OS and I’m not sure if these phones still get those considering they’re using an older OS.

PC roots are evident in mobile execution


Acer Liquid Jade Z Specs, as Tested

  • 5.0 inch display 720 x 1280 pixels (~294 ppi pixel density)
  • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
  • 8GB memory (up to 32GB expansion with microSD card)
  • 13 MP, f/1.8, rear camera with autofocus, LED flash
  • 5 MP front facing camera
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot
  • DTS tuned audio
  • 2,300mAh Li-Ion battery

Acer is first and foremost a PC company. This is evident in their other products. The Liquid Jade Z has various Acer applications which might be useful to some, but might also be considered as bloatware. Considering that they do take up valuable space, users might consider uninstalling what they won’t use to make room for useful apps.

If you’re not too app dependent and simply needs a reliable smartphone, the Acer Liquid Jade Z merits  some notice. Out of the box, we get a surprisingly light smartphone. Acer’s textured plastic backplate unique and gives a nice grip. This is a 5-inch device, it features a middling 1.5GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, a notable 2300 MAh battery good for 5-hours of talk time and 400 hours of standby. The design is practical and attractive for a basic plastic and glass smartphone. I like that you can simply use your nail to pry out the SIM card slot and you don’t need to hunt around for a paperclip to add a SIM card or microSD storage for video or audio files.

Basic RAM and Storage

Storage and RAM are on the paltry side, with 1 GB of RAM and a measly 8 GB of onboard storage. The issue with this is, while you can add as much as 32GB of storage, the majority of apps need to run from the onboard storage, so really you are limited to the 8GB save for videos, photos and documents that you can store on the external card.

This external card slot can also be used for dual-nano SIM cards, which is a unique feature that will appeal to users of pre-paid SIMs or to frequent travellers who use foreign SIMs, Dual-SIM capability is actually a standard feature in certain markets where cellular coverage is spotty and users need to use various service to maintain their connection.

Shooting for a wider aperture

Another feature unique to the Acer Liquid Jade Z is the voice-activated 13-megapixel camera with a fast f/1.8 aperture. This lets in more light for greater depth of field and more striking photos. The built-in camera software is decent and gets the job done. The 5-megapixel front-facing camera has an F/2.2 aperture and is tuned for selfies but it takes grainy photos in darker conditions. You can use both cameras simultaneously with Acer’s Dual Shot mode for interesting picture-in-picture effects. The camera is reasonably quick to deploy, I found it shot average to great photos in well-lit conditions and worked well for apps like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

It’s rare to get such a wide aperture and a 13-megapixel camera on a model in this class, even today. Acer’s done users a favour by focusing on some of the most-used, most relevant features on phones. If you do plan to shoot photos and video on this phone, do load up on external microSD storage since

Screen and sound for consuming content

The 5-inch IPS display is bright and clear and is very good for watching content. I was also impressed with the onboard audio with an HD speaker as well as DTS Studio Sound. This makes watching content as well as playing mobile games a lot better.

I enjoyed using the Acer Liquid Jade Z for reading news, apps like Flipboard and my Amazon Kindle eBooks as well as using it for Twitter and YouTube. I also played a few games and the display handled them nicely,

 

 

The Acer Liquid Jade Z is an option for people looking for a relatively inexpensive Android smartphone. It has 2015 specs and features and the version of Android it runs is KitKat (4.4.4) with not option of upgrading. This will impact getting the latest apps as well as keeping things updated in the future. For users who only need basic apps like email, text, some social media and basic games, the Acer Liquid Jade Z will work just fine.

I would consider this device as a starter smartphone for a parent or as a second phone for travelling. The importance of a dual-SIM capability is something that’s very useful when travelling, it allows you to keep your own home number while using any variety of pre-paid SIM cards. Currently compatible with Freedom Mobile and Mobilicity in Canada, you need to check if the LTE bands it supports to see if it suits your needs.

Aside from access to Google’s apps and services, Acer has built-in a number of special apps and features into the Acer Liquid Jade Z, some users may find these useful and fun but anyone looking for a purer Android experience might be frustrated by the bloatware.

Find an assortment of unlocked phones available at Best Buy.

 

 

“It’s important to note that this product is currently only sold by a seller on Best Buy’s new Marketplace. This means that the product will be shipped by a trusted partner of Best Buy and covered under the same warranty terms of any manufacturer you’d find on BestBuy.ca. When you add the product to the cart, take notice of the seller specific Returns and Shipping policies as they may differ from that of Best Buy. Products are also not returnable in store but all sellers have a return policy to help you should you change your mind or be dissatisfied. While you’ll be dealing with a different seller throughout the process, Best Buy is also always here to help if you run into trouble.”

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