Hands on: Acer Liquid Z4 review

Acer announced a duo of new smartphones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Acer Liquid E3 and the Acer Liquid Z4 that we're looking at here.

The Acer Liquid Z4 is a 4-inch smartphone that will arrive in April 2014 for €100. But sitting at the affordable end of the scale, does this phone have what it takes to compete with other budget models? We've been playing with it to find out.

Solid design

The Liquid Z4 is a compact device that measures 9.7mm thick. It features the AcerRAPID feature on the rear of the device under the camera lens that makes one-handed operation nice and easy. AcerRAPID will allow you to wake up the display, launch the camera, launch apps and pick up phone calls.

The Liquid Z4 features a solid, well-built, body that is light and comfortable to hold but, as expected, feels like a cheaper device than its more expensive bigger brother, the Liquid E3. 

READ: Hands-on: Acer Liquid E3 review

On the front of the device is a front-facing speaker boosted by DTS that claims to offer a richer experience but we didn't get a chance to test this in practice. 

The Liquid Z4's design itself is nice with a simple but effective style, curved edges and a small body that will be easy to carry around with you. We also like the red ring surrounding the rear camera and the AcerRAPID feature, it adds a little something to the back of an otherwise plain black device.

Punchy display

The 4-inch display on the Liquid Z4 offered bright, punchy colours but we found the whites weren't the brightest of whites. Acer hasn't detailed the resolution so we suspect it is lower than HD that is specified for the Liquid E3 but on a 4-inch display, it shouldn't matter too much, and the image was clear.

It is always difficult to judge a display in trade show conditions so we won't draw a conclusion from our short time with it, but we we did find the viewing angles to be decent and the image looked good enough.

Hardware

The Liquid Z4 features a dual-core 1.3GHz processor and while the device performed reasonably well, we did experience some lag when we were playing with it.

It was a little slow to react within the camera, as well as switching from one app to another, although given its price, it wasn't disappointing and we suspect it will cope well with every day tasks.

There is only 4GB of internal storage which is barely anything and will get full in no time once you start snapping away or downloading apps.

Average camera

There is a 5-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.4 aperture lens on board which we couldn't test properly due to the time we had with it and the conditions we experience the device in.

We had a little play and it is simple to navigate but we didn't get a chance to capture any images. The interface was easy to work out though with four options at the top of the display and four more at the bottom of the display including settings and changing the mode to video.

 

Software

The Liquid Z4 comes with an older version of Android - 4.2.2 - although an update to KitKat soon has been promised and there is also the new Liquid user interface and Acer's FLOAT apps.

The new Liquid interface comes with a new icon and visual style and the AcerFLOAT interface allows users to multitask and switch between apps, similar to the recent apps or multitasking button on Android.

The Acer user interface features as a skin over the top of Google's operating system so you will find a few variations compared to the stock Android, but it isn't something that gets in the way particularly.

First impressions

The Liquid Z4 isn't quite as impressive as the Liquid E3 but it costs €100 less so, for the price, it offers a decent set of specs.

It has a good build and its size is one of its best selling points and the AcerRAPID is a nice touch for one-handed operation.

If you are looking for a good looking smartphone in this level of the market, we suspect you won't be disappointed with the Acer Liquid Z4.