Consumers have been spend less money on computers and more on their mobile phones. This has given companies like Acer, which is a big name in computers, a challenging time. While theyíve had some mobile phone offerings, they havenít gained much traction in the market. As such, itís been awhile since Iíve tried one.
Hereís their latest offering; the Acer Liquid Jade Z. At $269.99 CAN unlocked, itís a high-entry/low-midrange phone. Spec-wise you get a 5Ē HD display, quad-core 64 bit processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, 13 megapixel camera with LTE so on that front, it's promising. Letís check it out:
vs Motorola Moto G 2015:
For $70 less you can pick up a locked 2015 Moto G.
The Jade has slightly beefier hardware; the SoC is incrementally more powerful while the GPU pulls ahead but quite a bit.
You also get double the storage which comes in handy if you download a lot of apps or take a lot of pictures.
The extra RAM is also a boon if you multitask a lot.
Another wild card is that the Liquid comes with support for dual SIMs plus itís unlocked.
Both camera sensors have 13 megapixels but at f/1.8 the Acerís has a wider aperture while the Motorola counters with a dual tone flash (and a not too shabby f/2.0 lens). Neither camera is outstanding but both can give serviceable pictures so itís a bit of a wash here.
The Motorola counters with its water resistance, much better sounding speakers and frequent Android updates.
At the same time, Iím kind of shocked that Acer is shipping the Liquid with Android 4.4.4. Based on previous Acer phones I donít expect one major upgrade after a long time but otherwise, the Jade probably wonít to get much action. I hope Acer proves me wrong.
Really it boils down to this: The Motorola is a water resistant phone with better speakers and frequent updates. The Acer gives you more RAM, more storage (both of which will make a difference), dual SIM support, itís unlocked out of the box but youíll probably never be on the cutting edge when it comes to having the latest version of Android.
Itís a tough choice because both phones are a bit flawed. The Moto is too skimpy with the RAM and storage while the Acer costs a bit more and ships with last yearís version of Android.
vs ZTE Grand X 2:
The Grand X 2 is an even bigger headache for the Liquid because you can get similar specs for $120 less.
The SoC is almost as powerful, you also get a 5Ē HD display, 16GB of RAM, 2GB of storage, LTE and a MicroSD.
So what do you get for the extra $120? The camera isnít quite as good as the Acerís. You also get a phone thatís locked and can only support one SIM card (youíll have to figure out if these 2 features are worth paying for.
The real kicker is that the ZTE ships with Android 5.1 out of the box.
vs Asus Zenfone 2 1.8Ghz:
The biggest headache for the Jade is that for you can get an Asus Zenfone 2 for the same money. The Zenfone has a bigger, higher resolution display, bigger battery, more powerful SoC, a newer version of Android and a better camera.
Other than being a lot lighter and have a more interesting finish on the back, the Acer is going to need a big price cut if it hopes to compete with the Zenfone 2.
vs Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3:
For $50 more, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 is another migraine for the Jade.
The Idol 3 is more powerful than the Acer, has a better, bigger, higher resolution but the best thing about Alcatel is that it has a really amazing set of speakers.
- 5Ē IPS LCD
- 1280x720 resolution
- MediaTek MT6732
- quad-core 64bit 1.5Ghz ARM Cortex A53
- Mali T760 GPU
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB storage
- 13 Megapixel camera f/1.8 lens
- Autofocus, LED flash
- 5 Megapixel front camera f/2.2 lens
- LTE bands 2/4/7/17
- dual nano SIM (one slot shared with MicroSD)
- 802.11n (2.4Ghz only)
- 143.5 x 69.8 x 7.95mm
- Android 4.4.4
When I opened the box for the first time I spent a few seconds looking for the battery but couldnít locate one. Turns out the Jade is just a really light phone.
At 110g, itís much lighter than the 2015 Moto G (155g) and the Asus Zenfone 2 (170g albeit with a bigger screen).
It seems the Jadeís lightness comes at the expense of some rigidity. While I wouldnít go so far as to say it feels cheap, it does flex a little bit more when you twist it. Then again, how often do you twist your phone in everyday usage?
That said, it lacks that heft you get with some phones so it takes a bit of adjusting.
I did notice that the glass on the lens got some scratches on it. I have no idea how this happened but Iím very disappointed because I was pretty careful with the Acer.
The back is rounded so itís quite comfortable to hold. It also has a very interesting canvas pattern on it.
While itís just molded hard plastic, itís still cool to look at it it feels unique.
While I liked how the buttons stuck out, for some reason Acer decided to put the power button on top of phone. Still, since the back is rounded the top is easier to reach than most other phones.
At night you can see the backlight through cracks near the volume buttons. Does this mean dust will get in through there? I canít say for certain but in the couple days Iíve had it I donít see any dust under the screen (knock on wood).
The back cover isnít removable so thereís a SIM card tray. I love how you donít need to find a paper clip to pop it open. You just pull it out with your fingernail.
Check out the SIM card tray. It can either hold a Nano SIM and a MicroSD or 2 Nano SIMs.
As is becoming standard, you get a 5Ē 1280x720 LCD IPS display. At 290PPI, you will see a bit of jaggedness occasionally but overall, itís a pretty sharp screen.
These days I havenít seen a phone with a lousy display in quite some time. In absolute terms itís a good display so any complaints are pretty minor.
Straight on it looks good. Colour is decent as are black levels. Maximum brightness is average and it works well outdoors.
Off-angle it loses a bit of brightness.
The rear camera has a resolution of 13 megapixel autofocus camera with a f/1.8 lens. Itís a bit wider than average. Most camera phones have lenses of f/2.0 to f/2.8.
The flash on the back isnít dual tone like the ones on the Moto G and Zenfone 2.
The camera starts, focuses and captures pictures quickly.
Image quality isnít terrible but the Zenfone 2ís sensor is more sensitive and less noisy.
Video is recorded at 1080P. Video looks fine. The Microphone captures reasonable audio but it does pick up handling noise.
While competitors ship with Android 5.1, Acer decided to ship the Jade with Android 4.4.4. In case you didnít know, after Android 4.4 is 5.0 so itís already 2 versions out of date. If having a very updated version of Android is important to you, then get a Zenfone 2 or a Moto G, those 2 receive regular updates.
Still, I wouldn'tí be surprised if the Jade Z received a 5.1 update eventually - probably when everyone else is running something even newer.
Like Asus, Acer tries to replicate the PC bloatware experience with many, many extra apps.
- 50+ Free Games shortcut
- Acer EXTEND
- Acer Portal
- Acer SnapNote
- Backup and Restore
- Barcode Scanner
- Clean Master
- Digital Clock & Weather
- Easy Hotspot
- Flash Light
- POLARIS Office 5
- Puzzle Pets
- Power save
- Quick Guide
- Quick Mode
- Real Football
- SIM Quick Guide
- Sound Recorder
- System Doctor
To be fair, some of the apps are pretty cool. The ďabĒ, starts for ďAcer BYOCĒ where the ďCĒ stands for computer. Theyíre a set of apps that allow the Liquid to access files on your computer. abDocs allows you to edit word documents on your computer, abMusics lets you listen to music on your computer, that sort of thing.
With abFiles you can browse your computerís file system and manage files including downloading them to your phone. The ab apps are actually pretty cool but I wish Acer consolidated all of them into one app so they donít take up so much space on the menu.
In case youíre wondering, Acer EXTEND isnít some sort of Android powered male enhancement supplement, rather it allows you to control your phone using your computer. The problem with it is that you have to enable USB debugging - if youíre not an Android nerd youíll have to figure out how to do this. Go to ďsettingsĒ -> ďabout phoneĒ and then tap the build number field repeatedly to become a developer.
Then go back and youíll notice there is now a ďDeveloper optionsĒ option. Choose that and then select ďUSB debuggingĒ.
Further, if you want to connect via WiFi you need to open the program on your computer, open the app on the phone and then click ďonĒ. This isnít a bad idea from a security perspective but it does make it slightly complicated to use.
Once youíve got it running itís pretty cool.
Another neat feature are Float Apps, while a few other companies have this feature itís nice to see it on a more affordable device like the Acer.
You can launch the browser, calculator, camera, maps, notes and watch in a window that floats on top of your other apps.
While itís a bit top-heavy, some of the built-in apps are interesting.
The Liquidís powerplant is a MediaTek MT 6732 SoC. It has four 64bit Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.5Ghz. If youíre keeping track, Snapdragon 410 in the Moto G 2015 has the same cores but they only run at 1.4Ghz.
The difference is that the MediaTekís graphics processor is a Mali T760 while the Snapdragon 410 has an Adreno 306 which according to my tests, is not quite as powerful.
The Zenfone 2 has an Intel Z3560 SoC which has different cores and GPU both of which are substantially more powerful than the Liquidís.
The Snapdragon 615 in the Idol 3 yields scores which are the most similar to the MT6732.
As a Phone:
The earpiece and speakerphone maximum volumes are both below average.
RF performance is also below average.
If you make a lot of calls youíll want to look for a different phone.
The battery should last most people the day.
There is support for dual Nano SIMs.
The speaker isnít very powerful but if you listen carefully, it does sound like itís been tuned - however, the speaker itself is nothing to write home about so youíre left with middling results.
Thereís a DTS feature which you can turn on or off. Turning it on does make a difference but like I said, youíre left with middling results
You get 16GB of storage (around 11GB usable) - which isnít too bad. If you need more you can add a MicroSD. Just keep in mind that the second Nano SIM card slot is shared with the MicroSD. You have to choose one or the other.
Like other dual SIM phones, the second SIM (the one shared with the MicroSD) is 2G only which limits you to GSM/GPRS/EDGE operators like Rogers, T-Mobile, AT&T.
In the end, the Acer Liquid Jade Z is doomed from the start because for $20 less, you can get an Asus Zenfone 2. I guess if Acer cut the price down to $200 it would be more competitive but even then itís an increasingly crowded price point.
The Zenfone 2 can do everything better than the Jade can. Off the top of my head, the only advantage that the Jade has is that its screen is a tiny bit brighter - but the Zenfoneís screen is bright enough that this is a very minor con at best.
2.5 Howies out of 5.
- ab Apps are interesting
- dual SIM
- very light
- interesting finish on the back
- Outdated version of Android
- poor RF performance
- Too expensive