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Android 4.4.2 KitKat is the operating system you'll find on your Acer Liquid Jade if you decide to invest in one. Acer's tweaks to Android itself don't go to the same depth as those made by Samsung, HTC or LG but there's a slew of bloatware apps here covering file management, photos and cloud storage.
An extra camera app, an extra messaging app, a rather ugly-looking contacts replacement app, the little-known Polaris 5 office suite... it's not a particularly pleasant sight. There's even an unappealing quick mode launcher (for kids or older users) that it took me ten minutes and some web searching to extricate my way out of.
Among the usual suspects in the widget drawer you'll find a host of weather and time widgets together with a data use monitor that can warn you if you're approaching your monthly limit.
Fortunately, you can install all of your usual apps if you want to go your own way. Videos look sharp and vibrant on the Liquid Jade's screen and audio is above average thanks to the single rear speaker and the DTS-HD Premium Sound enhancements built into the phone. It's not movie theatre quality but it's surprisingly decent for a mid-range Android handset.
The Swype-enabled keyboard lets you peck at the keys as normal or keep your finger down and draw the words out. I found it a little disorientating to use but that's only because I'm used to stock Android and some of the secondary buttons are in a different place. No doubt it's easy to operate once you get the hang of it, though it's not particularly appealing visually.
The settings drop-down drawer you can open from the notifications tray is a little overwhelming but it provides easy access to a bunch of options: GPS, brightness power saving, auto rotate, data usage, messages and the built-in flashlight app.
There's also a float caller feature that you can activate here that means a smaller pop-up appears when someone rings (rather than it taking up the whole screen) - I've seen it on previous Acer phones and it's actually a feature that makes a lot of sense.
Performance is one of the areas where the Acer Liquid Jade slips to 'satisfactory' rather than 'good'. A ho-hum 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor and 1GB of RAM keep things moving, but I noticed occasional lag and hold-ups while apps got their ducks in a row.
It doesn't spoil the experience too much - perhaps the casual user wouldn't even be bothered by it - but it goes in the drawback column for me.
Try and do anything too demanding on this handset and it's likely to start wheezing, though it's fine for day-to-day use on the whole. Did I say, "functional but not spectacular," yet?
Those impressions are backed up by the Acer Liquid Jade's benchmark scores. It registered a multi-core score of 1160 on Geekbench 3, which puts it a smidgen ahead of our old friend the Moto G but some way behind the two-year old Samsung Galaxy S3. It's in the sort of range reached by a lot of budget and mid-range phones.
Taking on our regular TechRadar 90-minute looped video test, the Acer Liquid Jade slipped from 100% to 71%, which means the 2100 mAh battery doesn't hold a charge quite as well as the Moto G or the iPhone 6 Plus do.
Most phones we test perform better than that so you can't expect outstanding battery life... or can you?
The phone has a special CPU power-saving mode that kicks in when the phone is idle, and when not in use, the handset's battery level drops about one percentage point an hour. It's not difficult to do the maths: if you keep your phone in your pocket all of the time, you could squeeze days out of the Acer Liquid Jade.
Presumably the CPU saver is a kind of sleep mode where very little is happening at all. Even if you're going to be using the phone extensively in the day, it's refreshing to pick it up in the morning to find the battery level has hardly dropped overnight, even with Wi-Fi and sync on. That's not something I can say about most of the phones I've had.
In normal use it was a less impressive story, with most standard activities (web browsing, gaming, music) chipping away at the battery life noticeably. I'd say you can expect the usual day's worth of use from the Acer Liquid Jade if you're a medium-to-heavy user of your phone; if it's sat idle for most of the time, then that power-saving mode can do wonders for you.
There's also a dedicated Power save app that you can use to specify which features (such as mobile data and Wi-Fi) are switched off when you're trying to save battery life. It works like the power-saving plans in Windows and it's a handy extra option to have.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.
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