My ongoing search for a capable smart phone (that doesn’t cost $600 for an unlocked version of the previous generation) has led me back to Acer. There are plenty of mid-range phones out there to choose from, but the Taiwanese company keeps grabbing my attention. I was impressed with the price point on the basic Acer Liquid M220 Windows Phone. It was really limited on the apps I could run, though, thanks to the operating system. The Acer Liquid Jade Z, being an Android phone, has better specs and fewer limitations.
Acer Liquid Jade Z Design
Acer nailed the design on the Jade Z with a sleek, lightweight build. Listed at 5.6” x 2.7” x 0.3” (LWD), it’s very similar to the Samsung S5. It weighs in at less than 4 ounces. There are only two buttons to worry about – power and volume. The rest of the controls are found in the Android OS. You’ve got a 3.5 mm audio jack on the top and a Micro USB charging port on the base.
Rounded corners and silver trim add to the aesthetic appeal of the phone. Like its M220 cousin, it shares the black plastic back cover with a carbon fiber-esque texture.
The Jade Z is a throwback in build quality to the days before premium phones came standard with Gorilla glass. Sadly, my phone had an unfortunate introduction to the pavement from about 3 feet. While it didn’t shatter the glass, it did nick up the corner pretty well and left a small crack. It’s not in the interface section and is only noticeable if you’re looking for it, so I press on.
You’ll want to get protection for the phone, but it’s a little challenging with how new it is to the States. Skinomi has several options from their TechSkin line that I went with. Zags also has a tempered glass options available through the Acer Store, but it’s been sold out every time I’ve checked. For cases, you’ll need to go with something generic. I went with a leather smartphone wallet from D-Park that’s been excellent so far.
Acer Liquid Jade Z Operating System
Acer’s website says that the Jade Z is shipping with Android 5.0 Lollipop. Mine may have been an early release as it came with Android 4.4.4 Kitkat. I’m not complaining, as Kitkat is still an excellent system. I’m hoping that the Lollipop upgrade will be available soon, or that I’ll get a notification when Marshmallow is available.
Since it’s an Android system, you’ll be able to enjoy most of the available apps out there today. To cover my professional social media needs, I’m running Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram simultaneously with no problems. For my workouts, I keep Strava on to record the session and Road ID so that my bride can check in to see where I am and be notified if I run into any issues on a long bike ride.
Another benefit of the Android system for Google Chrome users is the continuity between phone and computer. It easily integrates your email and other Chrome settings. I’ve become particularly fond of Google Keep. I treat it as a parking lot for ideas or lists. Once created, it’s available wherever I have my phone or computer.
Google Now and Speech to Text
Let me say this openly – I love voice commands and dictation. Google Now (using the OK Google command) is very capable of running searches, opening apps, and setting reminders. It doesn’t have the back and forth interaction of Siri or Cortana, but it does well. Particularly with reminders, I really like that it also syncs with Google Chrome on my laptop.
Whether it’s the microphone or the software, voice dictation is a little touch and go. The included Polaris Office 5 seems to do a reasonable job. However, voice dictation in other apps are hit or miss.
Acer Liquid Jade Z Screen
The screen is a win for the Acer Jade Z. It’s crisp and clear when shooting photos or video. You can easily pick out more detail in high resolution photos. The 1280 x 720 resolution means you can enjoy HD video and tell that it’s HD.
With the start of college football season, I loaded up the Watch ESPN app. The images are outstanding, although there is a little screen blur. It reminds me of watching an HD broadcast on a 60 Hz television. Gaming on this phone should be a pretty solid experience with the 1.5 GHz quad core processor and 2 GB of RAM.
Touch screen functions are excellent so far. The screen is wide enough to turn it horizontally and type quickly with two thumbs. While I make the occasional mistake, the auto correct so far has done a pretty reasonable job. Swype typing is also available for those that prefer it. It’s solid with that method as well.
Acer Liquid Jade Z Front and Rear Cameras
I’ve seen both complaints and high praise for the cameras on the Liquid Jade Z. The 13 megapixel back panel camera captures more than enough data to crop and edit photos. Like the majority of smartphone cameras out there, indoor photos are adequate while outdoor daytime photos are excellent. In either situation, the camera does well with capturing solid color in natural light.
The 5 megapixel front facing camera is great for capturing selfies and Skyping. It’s high enough resolution to take print quality photos. Video capture is also excellent with the ability to shoot at 1920 x 1080 pixels for HD playback.
Acer Liquid Jade Z Hardware
The Acer Jade Z boasts a MediaTek 1.5 GHz quad core processor. While Acer’s product page lists the Jade Z at 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage, the Acer Store shows a $229.99 price tag with twice that amount. The Micro SD/SIM combo card slot is capable of adding an extra 32 GB of storage. Even with that, you’ll want the additional internal storage and RAM if the option is available. This is especially handy if you use Spotify streaming music and download local playlists to your phone.
Acer Liquid Jade Z Specifications
- Operating System: Android 5.0 Lollipop (4.4.4 Kitkat tested)
- Cellular Connectivity: HSPA, GPRS, HSDPA, EDGE, LTE
- Processor: 1.5 GHz Quad Core
- RAM: 2 GB
- Internal Storage: 16 GB
- Micro SD Card Capacity: 32 GB
- Screen: 5”, 1280 x 720 pixels
- Cameras: 13 MP main, 5 MP front facing
- Battery Run Time: 7 hours talk, 410 hours standby
- Warranty: 1 year
I have a lot of praise for the Acer Jade Z given its hardware, operating system, and price point. There are just a couple of negatives though. The first is battery life. I’m not what you would call a heavy user, but I need to recharge once to make it from morning to night. This is pretty much the reality for most phones these days, so just know that this phone is in the recharge group. My other complaint is durability. There are other mid-range phones out there boasting Gorilla glass and water resistance. I’d love to have those features…of course, I realize I’d also have to pay for them.
In a crowded field of mid-range smartphones, the Acer Jade Z sets itself up to pull away with the front group. I’d like to see Acer continue developing their line of smartphones to include more durability in the mid-range. The design characteristics already look and feel like a top tier phone, so maybe if I’m lucky they’ll reach out even further. Currently, only a few models are available here, but Acer has a full basic to mid-range line in Europe. The Acer Jade Z came to the US from that group, so be on the lookout for more!