BARCELONA: PC MAKER Acer is striving to make its mark on the smartphone market, and the affordable Liquid Z4 handset is part of its strategy, with the firm looking to challenge rival mid-range smartphones like the Motorola Moto G.
The Acer Liquid Z4 is unlikely to excite sophisticated smartphone buyers, but several nifty, unique features and a €99 recommended retail price could finally help Acer enter the competitive smartphone market.
The Acer Liquid Z4 design is nothing very special to look at. The handset is built entirely out of plastic, and unlike most smartphones on the market it will be available only in black. However, Acer has added its signature red touches to the device, which makes its otherwise dull design a little more interesting.
Another thing that makes the Liquid S4 interesting is the button directly under the camera. This button, which takes a reassuring push to function, opens the camera application, even when the smartphone is locked. This is a nice touch, especially considering the handset's €99 price.
Largely due to its small 4in display, the Acer Liquid Z4 rests neatly in the palm of the hand, with the handset measuring 9.4mm thick and tipping the scales at 130g.
The Acer Liquid S4's 4in 480x800 resolution display is nothing to shout home about, and it doesn't quite stack up against the Motorola Moto G's 4in HD 720p screen. This is a little disappointing, as the Moto G retails for only around £40 more than Acer's budget smartphone.
During our hands-on time with the phone, we noticed fuzziness around the edges of text, while icons lacked the sharpness seen on Motorola's Moto G smartphone. The screen is also very reflective, and we found ourselves squinting under the bright MWC showroom lights read the display. That said, the Liquid Z4 boasts decent viewing angles for a phone at its price point.
Performance and software
A dual-core 1.3GHz processor sits under the bonnet of the Liquid Z4, and while it's not the nippiest Android smartphone around, we noticed no major issues while using the handset, although apps did take longer to load than on slightly more expensive Android devices. We also have yet to put the device fully through its paces, so we'll reserve judgement until our full review.
The Acer Liquid Z4 runs Google's Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean mobile operating system, making it one of the more dated smartphones to launch at this year's MWC. However, Acer was quick to tell us that the handset will receive an upgrade to Android 4.4 Kitkat, although it couldn't provide a timeframe.
Acer's custom user interface is surprisingly stripped down, with the firm clearly having listened to user feedback. It has customised the lockscreen with a cool liquid effect that moves as you tilt the phone, but beyond this the phone offers a largely vanilla Android user interface.
There are no widgets cluttering up the homescreens, and Acer's additions all seem to be rather useful, as opposed to the slew of unwanted apps that are often found on Android devices. Among Acer's additions are Acer Cloud, which can sync content from the smartphone to Acer laptops and tablets, and Acer Snapphoto.
Aside from the Acer Liquid Z4's low-resolution screen, we're quite taken by the budget Android smartphone. Unlike most, it offers a largely vanilla Android user interface, and although it runs an ageing release of Google's mobile operating system, Acer has already promised an upgrade to Android 4.4 Kitkat.
Check back soon for our full Acer Liquid Z4 review. µ