Acer Liquid Z3 Review
The Acer Z3: a great budget smartphone!
Acer is perhaps better known as a laptop-maker, but what many people don’t realise is that Acer is starting to carve its way into the world of smartphones.
In an interview at this year’s MWC in Barcelona, a team member at Acer told us that the company was focusing its efforts on first-time smartphone users by providing high quality but affordable devices.
The Acer Liquid Z3, released just last month, fits into this category perfectly; with a retail price of just £83, the Liquid Z3 offers an alternative to other cheap devices such as the HTC Desire C and Samsung Galaxy Ace.
But how will it score in our comprehensive review?
I don’t often get to say this when reviewing the latest smartphones, but the Acer Liquid Z3 is small. Tiny, in fact. With a screen size measuring just 3.5-inches the Z3 is nothing short of dinky, making it perfect to slip into your pocket or to use one-handed.
And because of the device’s small dimensions- it measures 109mm x 60mm- the Z3 only weighs 120 grams, which again makes it incredibly light and slim-line.
What I particularly like about the Liquid Z3 is that apart from its size, it doesn’t necessarily look like a budget smartphone; it has a soft-touch back casing which not only makes it scratch and scuff-proof, but which also adds to the premium feel of the phone compared to many cheap-looking plasticy models.
Under the casing, the phone features a dual-core 1GHz processor which might not make a dent in the range of quad-core processors which the latest models all sport, but is still superior to other budget smartphones such as the HTC Desire C which only offers an 800 MHz processor. When put into action, the Liquid Z3 wasn’t slow in any way, and I didn’t experience much of a lag when launching apps, which I was pleasantly surprised by.
Moreover, the Z3, being targeted at a larger European audience, comes in either a single or dual SIM variation, which can come in handy when wanting to keep work and home life separate whilst using the same handset.
Overall, in terms of hardware specs, the Acer Liquid Z3 is an impressive piece of kit, especially when compared to other budget phones on the market.
Phone Set Up
Quite surprisingly, the Acer Liquid Z3 sports Android Jelly Bean despite its budget status, which puts it right up there amongst the much more expensive smartphones in terms of its operating system.
Because of this, the Z3 looks very much like any other Android. Despite the phone’s small screen, though, the home screens still display the same number of apps as larger-screened phones. I can’t decide whether this is a good or bad thing; good because it means that the 3.5-inch display doesn’t affect the set-up of the phone, and bad because it can make it a little tricky to read small text.
The Acer Liquid Z3 is also incredibly simple to navigate around; with three permanent buttons you can easily go back a level, return to the home screen or scroll through your recently opened apps. The haptic feedback connected to the home button also makes it easy to quickly close features and apps.
Because the Liquid Z3 runs the Android operating system, the phone offers many of the same Google-based aps as other Androids such as Play Music, an FM radio, Gmail, Google+ and Google Local.
However, in addition to these apps any Android user will be familiar with, the Z3 offers a couple of other interesting apps, including:
Mood Agent is a free app available to download with any Android smartphone, and essentially lets you discover music according to what mood you are in. Feeling upbeat but have nothing but slow tunes on your playlists? Simply log into Mood Agent and select ‘Happy’ to listen to a selection of fun, cheery music.
Quick Mode is another feature that’s included on the Acer Liquid Z3. The feature basically sculpts the phone according to who is using it.
For example, if a young child is playing on the Z3, you can enact Basic Mode, which only allows them to use the call and text functions.
|Senior Mode||Classic Mode|
For older users, you can switch on Senior Mode, which allows access to messages, radio, weather, the magnify app and quick call contacts. Equally, for first-time smartphone users, there’s Classic Mode, which offers a clear and simple interface to make getting to grips with a smartphone that bit easier.
Camera & Video
The one slight down-side to the Acer Liquid Z3 lies in its camera. The phone’s 3.15 megapixel camera might not produce the sharpest of photos, but for first time smartphone users, this might not be the be all and an end all.
The camera has a 4 x zoom which blurs objects too much when tested at maximum capability, though when put to the test against the BlackBerry Q5, it did work better, as you can see below.
|Acer Liquid Z3 maximum zoom||BlackBerry Q5 maximum zoom|
However, I did find it difficult to zoom in and out quickly, as the screen wasn’t always responsive to my pinching action.
As you can see in the gallery to the left, the Liquid Z3’s photos aren’t as good as higher range smartphones, and the objects appear a little washed out. That said, as I mentioned above, the ability to take photos, however good, is sure to be an added bonus of the Liquid Z3 to many prospective owners rather than a necessary feature.
What Z3 users to benefit from is the smartphone’s array of editing features; not only can you take artistic panoramic shots, but you can add coloured filters to make your photos look brighter, older or just more fun. Having pre and post editing features is something that many budget smartphones don’t offer, so this is a nice addition with the Acer Liquid Z3.
The device features a rather average 1500mAh battery, which I didn’t expect huge things of considering how fast smartphone batteries tend to drain. Over the weekend that I spent with the phone, I had to charge the device fully once, and after just taking a few photos and leaving the device idle overnight, the battery had dwindled to 55%, which isn’t the most impressive I have seen in a smartphone.
Again, it leads back to the phone’s price: for a smartphone offering a camera, an up-to-date version of Android and a set of decent features, having a slightly disappointing battery life isn’t the biggest drawback- especially when you’re getting the device for less than £100!