Acer Liquid Jade S review

S for speed: Acer's mid-ranger receives a welcome performance boost

Acer Liquid Jade S review

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The dual-SIM functionality of the Liquid Jade S may not be a high priority for every user in the UK, US and Australia, but in other countries, particularly in the developing world, being able to use two SIM cards in one device is a highly valued feature.

This feature, despite its limited implementation in the West, is extremely useful for those who normally have to carry around both a work and personal phone.

Frequent travellers, especially those who often go to one particular country for business or leisure purposes, can keep both a local and foreign SIM inside their phone; thus reducing the need to go through the laborious task of hot-swapping SIM cards every few days.

Two nano SIMs can be inserted into the Liquid Jade S' SIM tray side by side, with the option to swap one SIM out for a microSD card if the 16GB onboard storage is not enough for you.

While having to sacrifice storage for a second SIM is not ideal, this is one of the compromises that had to be made in order to keep slender profile and curves of the Liquid Jade S.

Other than the international version of the Moto G (2014), there have been very few widely available dual-SIM mid-range smartphones. The Liquid Jade S can be purchased directly from Acer, and thus is a much safer alternative than buying a dual-SIM smartphone, with no international warranty, through a third-party import supplier.

As well as dual-SIM functionality, Acer touts the prowess of both the Liquid Jade S' 13MP rear-facing shooter and the 5MP selfie snapper. That's a similar combination to those found on pricier mid-rangers such as the OnePlus One and Honor 6.

The Taiwanese firm also emphasises the "epic speed" of the Liquid Jade S, mainly due to the inclusion of an octa-core Mediatek processor. Both the overall speed and camera performance will be covered later in the review, it's just worth mentioning them here as they are two of the most noteworthy features.

On the software side of things, the Liquid Jade S runs a lightly skinned version of Android 4.4.4 KitKat. The absence of the latest version of Android could be a blessing in disguise, though, considering the numerous issues current smartphones running Lollipop are facing.

Acer's custom Liquid user interface is certainly not the prettiest, but it's light, functional and easy to navigate around. The Acer Launcher is very similar to the old stock Android launcher found on devices such as the Nexus 4 and features separate tabs in the app drawer for apps and widgets.

Acer Liquid Jade S review

Your four apps in the dock can be opened via a simple swipe from the lockscreen

Many of the additions to the UI, such as the slew of Acer's own apps and 'Quick Mode', will not be immensely useful to most. That being said, there are a few helpful software features that aid multitasking and ease of access.

The 'Float Apps' feature works very similarly to Samsung's 'Multi Window', allowing you to use certain mini apps simultaneously on one screen. While there are only a limited number of mini apps to choose from, a small consolation is that any widget can also be used in a floating window.

Acer Liquid Jade S review

For completing basic tasks, the 'Float Apps' feature is a good productivity tool and can save you valuable time

'Quick Touch' gestures are a much-needed inclusion considering the hard-to-reach power button on the top edge of the Liquid Jade S.

By drawing certain letters on the screen while the phone is in standby/sleep mode you can either jump directly into your homescreen or open the dialler, music or camera app.

Yes, the gesture options are fairly limited at present, but at least they cover the basics and are pretty reliable. Hopefully more functionality will be added in future software updates.

Like the Liquid Jade and a number of other Acer smartphones, the Liquid Jade S includes DTS enhanced audio.

While the DTS-HD branding is proudly displayed on the rear above the circular speaker, the overall audio experience is decidedly poor.

'DTS-HD Premium Sound' can be enabled within the general settings menu, and despite there being a number of tweakable options present, the feature fails to provide fantastic audio quality through headphones or the Liquid Jade S' rear speaker.

With a decent pair of headphones, you can notice a considerable difference when toggling the 'Premium Sound' option on and off.

However, the improvement in audio quality with this option enabled only brings the sound quality up to a level comparable with other mid-range smartphones.

Another disappointing aspect of the audio experience on the Liquid Jade S is the muted and rather tinny rear-firing speaker. Even with the volume level set to maximum, audio was extremely quiet.

Whilst playing the same YouTube video, the Liquid Jade S – set at maximum volume level – was almost completely drowned out by a Nokia Lumia 735 that was set to only half volume.