Our Verdict

With decent performance, an excellent screen and a good selfie cam, the Acer Liquid Jade Z is a good choice for many. Yet, with a poor camera and generally lacklustre battery performance, there are better options available for less money.

For

  • Great screen
  • Good front-facing camera
  • Comfortable to use one-handed

Against

  • Cheap, flimsy construction
  • Sub-par speakers
  • Disappointing rear camera

Acer is known to many as the Taiwanese makers of respectable computing equipment, competing strongly with the likes of Asus. Yet, the story does not end there. Like John Everyman and his plucky donkey, Asus has opted to enter the smartphone race.

This is no easy proposition, especially when the likes of Apple and Samsung, with their marketing billions, are struggling to compete with the likes of Xiaomi and Meizu in offering quality devices at an affordable price. Selling a smartphone is no longer the easy task it once was, and in a space where Acer has relatively little brand name recognition, it becomes all the more difficult.

The Acer Liquid Jade Z is the latest in the Taiwanese firm's ludicrously named 'Liquid Jade' range, intended to be competitive in the mid to low market.

Indeed, at roughly £150, the device is a cheaper version of the Liquid Jade S, which boasts slightly higher specifications at a correspondingly higher price point.

Acer Liquid Jade Z review

Design

Holding the device, one thing is immediately apparent – 2012 is in vogue once more. From its size and thinness to its feel in the hand, the Acer Liquid Jade Z brings to mind the Samsung Galaxy S3. This impression is further enhanced by the software skin Acer has added (so Android 2.3 Gingerbread) and the useless bloat and gimmicks added.

This first impression certainly isn't what you might expect from a phone at this price point, however. At a mere 7.9 mm thick, and weighing in at only 110g, clearly a great deal of thought has been poured into the design and engineering of this device.

Acer Liquid Jade Z review

These dimensions are unfortunately not enough to offset the cheap-feeling, rough plastic that has been used throughout, with a subtle hatching that generally improves grip, but can feel scratchy.

With the tiny weight, these various factors contribute to the general feeling that a strong gust could see a Mary Poppins-like situation evolve, should the right conditions arise.

The front of the Acer Liquid Jade Z is a reasonably pleasant affair; in keeping with other smartphones is that it is mostly a slab of smooth glass, with a nice coating of Gorilla Glass 3 for that pleasant 'oleophobic' feel. The screen panel measures 5 inches, with a 720p resolution.

Acer Liquid Jade Z review

At the bottom of the display rests a small 'Acer' logo spelled out in chrome-effect plastic, while the speaker at the head does an excellent impression of a Borrower's shower-head.

On the left side of the device rests the nano-SIM and Micro-SD card slot, which can be a little finicky for those without steady hands. The bottom and top of the device house the Micro-USB charging port and the 3.5mm headphone jack respectively.

Where the screen meets the body of the phone, there is a strip of chrome-effect plastic, much as found on the Samsung Galaxy S5, with the Acer also possessing nice rounded edges, a thoughtful addition.

The top, unfortunately, is also home to the power button and on the right the slightly cumbersome volume rocker can be found.

Acer Liquid Jade Z review

The rear of the Jade Z is where Acer has chosen to make something of a statement. The company's logo is picked out, once again, in chrome-effect plastic, with slightly rough and unpleasant edges. At the bottom rests an unusual rear-mounted speaker grille – a perfect circle.

At the head rests a rather large camera hump (circled with, you guessed it, chrome-effect plastic) and a single white LED flash.

Whatever misgivings the size, weight and choice of materials may impose, one thing is undeniable, this is a comfortable device to use in one hand. Though the top-mounted power button will force some unpleasant hand-gymnastics on those with small hands, with its rounded-edges, this makes for a great reading experience.

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