This month we have a rather special device from Acer that is a real contender for best budget smart phone this year. Not usually known for their smartphone prowess I was keen to take a look at what Acer had to offer.
Acer Liquid Jade Z
The Liquid Jade Z was not entirely expected from Acer at Mobile World Congress as they had launched the Jade S only two months before. The price is going to be around the £145 mark and is tipped to be a huge disrupter in the budget handset end of the market.
In hand it is very light, measuring 7.9mm thick and weighing a mere 120g, and the back panel is nicely textured which gives it that bit of extra grip. The screen is a 5 inch LCD with 720 x 1280 pixels (about 294ppi) which is actually the same screen that comes with the more expensive Jade S. From a budget smartphone it is actually very impressive.
The Jade Z is running Android 4.4.4 KitKat, overlaid with Acer’s Liquid UI, it really isn’t very different from the regular Android but there are a few extras. Acer has told us that the handset will be receiving a free update to Android Lollipop later this year. I think this could be a major turning point for the device.
Processor wise the Jade Z is packing a 64-bit quad-core MediaTek processor and comes with 1GB of RAM. There is a 2300mAh battery pack inside which should be enough for a full day of use, I have been unable to test this fully yet with the combination of battery saving modes the device comes with but it’s probably not going to wow anyone that’s for sure.
Business users probably won’t be that fussed by the camera but it is worth mentioning, the rear 13MP lens is excellent and Acer has even put a decent 5MP front (or selfie) camera in the mix too. I am very pleased to see that the Jade Z has 4G connectivity which is lacking from several other smartphones in the budget range. This connectivity option is so critical for getting that business market.
The Jade Z comes with AcerNAV, which I have to admit I knew nothing about, but it is the result of a partnership between Acer and TomTom for offline navigation. All users are going to find that very useful and is a great little extra which helps set this phone out from the crowd.
Pros – 4G, Price, AcerNav, decent screen
Cons – Feels a little flimsy, No Lollipop OS yet, Heavy users may get some lagging issues
Alcatel Idol 3
I was intrigued when I went to take a look at this phone at Mobile World Congress this year. Alcatel had earlier expressed its intentions to become a top three manufacturer which I, at first, found amusing, but then I had to go and see why.
The Idol 3 has put microphones at both ends of the phone which essentially makes it a reversible phone, ie. it doesn’t matter which end you talk into. Presumably it’s meant for those people in such a rush to answer the phone they end up holding it upside down.
There are two sizes of the Idol 3 with different displays, 4.7 and 5.5 inches and are both HD. The phone is rocking Android 5.0 Lollipop OS and has a quad-core CPU in the 4.7 inch version and a octa-core processor in the 5.5 inch iteration. The good news they are also 4G compatible.
Prices are unconfirmed for the UK yet but is likely to be around the £150 – £200 mark for the 4.7 inch version. The Idol 3 is going to be a good contender at the lower end of the market, will it propel Alcatel above some of the other big players?… I’m not so sure.
Pros – Price, Microphones, Good spec
Cons – Build quality, lower screen res for 4.7 inch version