Acer announced a flurry of new products at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, including the successor to the mid-range Liquid Jade smartphone.
The Liquid Jade took the position of the company's best looking smartphone when it arrived and the Liquid Jade Z improves on it in terms of display, processor and build. We caught up with the new handset at MWC to see what we thought of it and how it compares to its predecessor.
The Liquid Jade Z offers an almost identical design to the Liquid Jade. It is slim, slender and a very manageable device that is easy to operate one-handed. Acer has employed a new screen glass to the Liquid Jade Z, which in turn has enabled its waistline to be reduced to just 7.9mm thick and it's lovely and light too, weighing only 120g.
The new device is the same shape as the previous, offering a curved rear which makes it a delight to hold but rather than the fingerprint-attracting glossy plastic of the Liquid Jade, the Liquid Jade Z has opted for a new textured rear. It has a linen-type effect that not only provides a good grip but it keeps fingerprints at bay too. It's a similar approach to what Honor opted for on its latest 4X smartphone and we liked it.
Aside from the change in material on the rear though, the design doesn't change. You get the slightly embossed DTS speaker at the bottom of the rear, along with the raised camera at the top and the Liquid Jade Z has the same SIM and microSD slot on the left, with the volume rocker on the right. The headphone jack and power button are on the top, while the Micro-USB charging port is on the bottom so there is nothing new in terms of layout.
The display has changed though, albeit not in size or resolution. There is a 5-inch HD IPS screen on the Liquid Jade Z, just like the original but Acer has made it brighter, offering 350 nits of luminosity and the difference is apparent. We had the old and the new side-by-side and we could see a slight improvement.
The 1280 x 720 resolution delivers a pixel density of 294ppi, which isn't the sharpest in its class, but the viewing angles were ok and it seemed to present nice, vibrant colours, although we will look at it in more detail when we come to review the Liquid Jade Z in full.
There is a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera on the Liquid Jade Z, which is an improvement in terms of the front-facing snapper compared to the original model. We were impressed with the Liquid Jade's rear camera so we would expect similar results from the new model.
The increase in resolution of the front-facing snapper means the Liquid Jade Z sits in line with the likes of the recently announced Sony Xperia M4 Aqua so it will be interesting to see how it performs in the real world.
When it comes to the Liquid Jade Z's other specs, Acer has introduced a 64-bit quad-core 1.5GHz Mediatek processor and 4G LTE capability. We found the original a little sluggish when we reviewed it but the new model seems to be slicker, although that is something we will have to test fully when we get the chance to spend more time with it.
Overall, the Acer Liquid Jade Z does take a couple of steps forward in terms of design and performance from what we can tell. It has some stiff competition in this sector of the market though so it will good to see how it matches up when it's put through its paces.
The Acer Liquid Jade Z will be available in March through selected EMEA retailers, starting at €199.