Acer isn’t a stranger to the US market, they’ve done very well here with laptops and other consumer electronics. Acer is also not a stranger to smartphones and now they’re offering them in the United States starting with the Liquid Jade Z. The Z is a midrange smartphone with some interesting features and great budget price. Read on for our Acer Liquid Jade Z review.
The Liquid Jade Z comes in two different spec offerings, the below specs are as tested and is the higher priced model.
- 5″ IPS HD display 720P with “Zero Air Gap”
- Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 with “Read Mode” to reduce blue-light emissions
- 1.5GHz MediaTek M56732 quad-core processor
- Mali-T760 graphics
- 2GB of RAM
- Android 4.4 KitKat
- 13MP rear camera and 5MP front camera
- Dual SIM slots and MicroSD slot
- 16GB storage capacity
- 2300mAh battery
- DTS Sound
The Jade Z is constructed of plastic with a Gorilla Glass 3 display and is fairly lightweight coming in at 110 grams. The back has a crosshatch pattern giving it a little extra grip on the palm and a little personality to the design. The front panel ear speaker and back panel loud speaker are this phone’s two design standouts. The front ear piece is chrome and circular, very different from most other smartphones. The rear loudspeaker is also circular and both are a nice little design touch. While the design may not be competing with high end smartphones it’s not ugly and really wouldn’t stand out as something not worth holding. Overall the design is nice, nothing flashy just an everyday smartphone.
Sporting a 5″ IPS 720p display with Gorilla Glass 3 the resolution stands at 1280 x 720. Acer says their Read Mode feature helps eliminate some blue light effects for people who suffer from that. The display is colorful with decent black and whites, not too over saturated like you find on Samsung’s AMOLED displays. Viewing angles are not bad, not the best but not horrible either. Brightness could have been a bit better, I had to run with brightness turned all the way up all the time. Touch responsiveness was excellent with the display never missing a beat responding to my touches. Overall the display isn’t bad for a midrange phone. There are better displays on the market but this price range is bound to see some specs being pulled back.
The Jade Z is running Android 4.4.4 Kit Kat, yes not the most current 5.1.1 Lollipop and Acer has not commented on if the Jade Z will get Lollipop or skip to Marshmallow (will update once we know) they only say it is in review. Kit Kat is still a capable version of Android and it runs very well on the Jade Z. Gestures and scrolling were bug free for the most part. There were a few times I experienced some stutter in browser or moving from app to app but nothing that would be a deal breaker. Our test unit came with 2GB of RAM and that certainly helped. Gaming is fairly smooth and the Jade Z is capable of handling most games. Some games that are more intense may find the device heating up slightly and performance dropping slightly. That’s pretty normal though, the Jade Z is running a MediaTek processor and Mali graphics, my first experience with these processors and GPU’s. Overall performance is acceptable for a midrange device and again, pricing is what is going to affect the performance of the phone.
We already know the Jade Z is rocking Android 4.4.4 Kit Kat and it runs well on this hardware. Acer has wrapped a variety of its own software into the phone as well. The Acer skin itself isn’t that far off from stock Android but you can tell it’s customized. Acer offers, pre-loaded, abDocs, abFiles, abMusic, abPhoto, abVideo, Acer SnapNote, Easy Hotspot, Livescreen, QuickMode, System Doctor and Acer Extend.
That’s quiet a bit of extra software that you can toggle off but it is not removable. Depending on how you feel about extra software you’ll either welcome it or hate it. Some things are nice to have like the SnapNote app but most everything else has a Google alternative and if you have a Google account you’re likely going to use that. The included weather widget is very nice though, it’s interactive. When you tap the weather it opens the app and depending on conditions you’ll get sound and animation when looking at it, nice touch.
Aside from the added Acer software, most everything is near stock Android as you’ll get and it’s all smooth with the 2GB of RAM pushing them along. Overall the experience was pleasant for a midrange device.
The Jade Z comes with DTS sound and a DTS sound application to tweak some sound settings. I understand marketing the DTS app and advertise great sound from your device but I found the rear loudspeaker less than adequate. It was weak and tinny not suited to anything more than voice calls, but really, that’s expected of most smartphone speakers.
The DTS app on the other hand, with a good pair of headphones plugged into the Jade Z you can get some decent sounds from the device. It’s not as feature rich as the Zik headphone app but it gets the job done and you can certainly enjoy your music through headphones.
The 12MP rear camera does a good job in daytime shots with some over saturation in some shots but overall really good for a midrange camera. Low light shots did suffer some, with noticeable noise and blurriness. With no optical image stabilization some pics came out blurrier than others, depending on how much coffee I had. Overall, for the price of the phone, most people will find this camera acceptable especially in daylight or good lighting conditions. While not on par with high end phones, it gets the job done.
Call Quality and Battery Life
Call quality is very good using the front panel ear piece, calls are clear and crisp and the mics do a really good job as well. Call quality on the loud speaker is decent but not so great when you have much noise around you.
Battery life isn’t bad, I lasted all day on one charge, all day being 5am – 9pm with the phone coming in at 5% by then. This was average use, phone calls, texts, browsing, Google Hangouts, light gaming and social media. If you’re a heavier gamer you will likely find the battery draining faster.
Be sure to check your carriers LTE bands as T-Mobile LTE does not work on the Jade Z, only 4G works with T-Mobile.
The Jade Z comes in at $249 as tested, the 8GB version is even cheaper and that’s not a bad price if you’re on a budget. The specs aren’t high end but they’re not horrible either. While the phone is still running Kit Kat it is still capable enough to run your daily tasks. Sure there are other phones near this price with better specs but not everyone can go beyond this price point. For those who can’t the Jade Z is a decent choice.
*We were sent a demo unit of the Acer Liquid Jade Z for the purposes of this review.