Acer Liquid Jade first impressions: scores high on style, not so much in other aspects

“With the slender profile of 7.5mm and weight of just 110 grams, the Liquid Jade is one of the most compact smartphones with a 5-inch display”

With more than 80 percent Indian mobile users still using feature phones, the country represents one of the biggest growth opportunities for smartphone manufacturers. Perhaps that’s why we are seeing the entry of new brands in the market, along with the return of some familiar names. Acer, a Taiwanese brand, is also marking its return in the smartphone segment, with the release of two Android phones under the Liquid series.

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While it’s too early to say how well the brand would fare in this hyper-competitive market, we can definitely share our thoughts about the devices with which it’s making a comeback. At the launch event, we were able to take a closer look at both its devices, and here we will be talking about the brand’s flagship smartphone, the Liquid Jade.

One look at the Acer Liquid Jade, and it’s sure to elicit awe. While the brand hasn’t done anything radically different with its design, the device still manages to stand out from the crowd. The fascia of the smartphone is mainly covered by the display panel, with very less space around the sides. Above the screen, you’ll find the circular speaker grille in the centre, along with a front-facing snapper and a couple of sensors, whereas Acer branding can be found below the display. There are no capacitive buttons as part of the hardware, since the Liquid Jade gets them as software overlays.

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The Acer Liquid Jade gets a metallic rim around its edges, giving it a nice look and providing sturdiness at the same time. The volume buttons are placed on the right spine, whereas the left side houses a slot for inserting the SIM cards. The 3.5mm socket sits up top along with the power key, while the micro-USB port is available at the base of the phone.

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Thanks to the rounded corners and curved rear, the Acer Liquid Jade nestles in the hand well. In fact, with the slender profile of 7.5mm and weight of just 110 grams, it’s one of the most compact smartphones with a 5-inch display. We were able to easily reach the corners and the power button when using the device with one hand, though it would have been better if the latter had been placed on the right

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The unibody smartphone is constructed out of plastic, and features a glossy back. This is our only gripe with the Liquid Jade, since it becomes slippery within no time, not to mention the fact that it catches fingerprints and smudges easily. The rear of the phone is home to the primary camera which protrudes slightly, along with an LED flash, the company’s branding in the middle and another circular speaker grille towards the bottom. At this point, it’s important to mention that the device flaunts Dolby-certified DTS speakers for providing good sound output, though we weren’t able to test their quality.

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The 5-inch display of the Acer Liquid Jade is protected by a layer of third-gen Corning Gorilla Glass and bears a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. Even though the display doesn’t feature full HD resolution, which has become a standard these days, we found it to be vibrant and sharp. However, the display seemed to be quite reflective.

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The Liquid Jade runs Acer’s own customised UI with Android 4.4.2 KitKat as its base. The UI has been modified heavily, right from the icons to default apps, and interface of lock screen, homescreen and notification panel. The home screens (with five as the default count) can be added or deleted as per user’s need, while the app launcher lists all the apps available on the handset. The notification shade features quick toggles like Wi-Fi, cellular data, etc. along with notifications on the same tab. You can also expand the quick toggles bar to get more settings. The company has also added several of its own unique features in the Liquid Jade, such as Acer Extend, an app that allows you to control the phone from your PC and Quick Mode, that provides interfaces suitable for senior citizens or kids with large tiles.

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For imaging purposes, the Acer Liquid Jade is supplied with a 13-megapixel camera at the back and a 2MP shooter at the front. For shooting in low-light conditions, the rear snapper gets assistance from an LED flash. In our test shots, the images clicked by the smartphone looked fine with good colour reproduction, however they were noisy and quality wasn’t at par as compared to other 13MP rear camera-equipped phones. However, we would like to test the camera capabilities of the phone extensively over different situations before giving our judgment about its quality. In terms of video recording, the rear shooter can capture videos in 1080p resolution, while the front camera can record them in HD resolution.

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The onus of the performance lies on MediaTek’s MT6582 processor, which offers four Cortex-A7 cores ticking at 1.3GHz. The chipset is augmented by 2GB of RAM. During our brief usage, the Acer Liquid Jade responded fluidly and we didn’t run into any kind of lags. However, it remains to be seen how well does it performs when we stress-test it by running multiple apps at the background or playing graphics-heavy games.

The device comes with 16GB of flash storage, which offers a little more over 12.3GB of space to the users. The storage can also be increased further by a microSD card of up to 32GB. The dual-SIM smartphone offers 3G connectivity, along with support for usual features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. Rounding up the spec sheet is a 2,100mAh Li-ion battery that provides juice to the Liquid Jade.

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For the sale of its smartphones, Acer is going the online-only way and has partnered with Snapdeal for this purpose. The Liquid Jade is priced at Rs 16,999, and will go on sale starting tomorrow. While the pricing of the smartphone is good, it isn’t compelling enough, especially when compared against the devices that tote full HD displays and faster processors. It will be facing fierce competition from devices such as Alcatel One Touch Idol X Plus (first impressions), Micromax Canvas Knight (review) and phablets like the HTC Desire 816G (review) and ZTE Grand SII (first impressions).

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