- Slim and light
- Attractive UI
- Crisp and colourful screen
- Occasionally chuggy performance
- Mediocre battery life
We review the Acer Liquid Jade, a mid-range mobile with a sleek and surprisingly slim, lightweight design, but regrettably not much in the tank.
Acer Liquid Jade design: Glossed over
When we first picked up the Acer Liquid Jade, we were really impressed by its slender and lightweight design – it’s just 7.5mm thick and 110g, making it one of the lightest phones we’ve played with recently. The phone is nicely curved in each corner and sports a rounded rear, so it fits nicely into the hand without jabbing at your palm – often an issue with 5-inch phones.
One-handed use is just about possible thanks to the Liquid Jade’s reasonably compact build, an impressive feat indeed. However, the phone’s glossy cover does make the phone a little slippery, so you’ll want to clutch it tight to make sure it doesn’t go flying out of your grasp.
We also found that the glossy rear was a magnet for pocket filth and general scum, which can look a little untidy, especially under bright lights. Best keep a hanky on stand-by.
You can’t open up the Liquid Jade’s back cover to access the battery and other innards, which means the SIM card slot is instead housed in a tiny drawer on the left edge of the phone. The power button is found up top, awkwardly placed if you’re using the phone right-handed, while the volume rocker is stuck on the right edge and much easier to access.
Our only real bugbear is the camera lens, which juts out a fair way from the back of the handset – even more so than the Apple iPhone 6’s lens. Still, it didn’t impede our grip and the Liquid Jade is still a good-looking budget blower. If you prefer a splash of colour, however, you’d probably prefer the Nokia Lumia 630 or Lumia 635, which boast changeable covers, including a very eye-catching green and orange.
Acer Liquid Jade screen and media: HD visuals
That 5-inch screen stretches almost edge-to-edge across the front panel and there’s very little glass between the display and your finger, so your homescreens almost appear to be floating on the surface. The Liquid Jade sports a 720p resolution, giving 294 pixels-per-inch, which is comparable to the phone’s closest rivals, including the Motorola Moto G. In simple terms, that means you can comfortably browse desktop versions of websites and HD movies look impressively crisp, bolstered by some accurate and attractive colour reproduction.
A strong top brightness means you can also use the Liquid Jade out in harsh sunlight, without being forced to squint through the glare.
The Jade makes a big deal of its DTS HD speaker, which sits at the bottom of the phone’s rear side, perfect positioning for your palm to smother it. In fact, there’s even a DTS logo branded right on the phone’s rump. However, even with the speaker pointed at your face and the volume pumped up to max, it’s not exactly ear-explodingly powerful – although we’ve heard far, far worse. Audio quality is generally fine, but we’d still recommend plugging in earphones when you’re kicking back with a movie.
As for storage space, you only get 8GB built into the phone itself for carrying around your media collection, but you can quickly and cheaply expand via a micro SD memory card, up to a further 32GB. It’s a shame you can’t slot in cards with more storage, especially with some phones now accepting up to 128GB, but at least the option’s there.
Acer Liquid Jade user experience: A whole new ‘droid
Acer has skinned Android 4.4 KitKat with its own user interface, which isn’t a massive departure from the norm but still looks nice to our jaded eyeballs.
We love how you get tons of quick-access power features tucked in a handy menu, which can be accessed at any time by dragging two fingers down from the top of the screen. As well as the usual brightness, Wi-Fi, GPS etc. toggles, you can also check how much data you’ve used from your allowance, turn on the wireless display mode (which can throw the Liquid Jade’s screen to a larger display) and fiddle with your alarms.
Acer has also chucked in a few of its own apps, which you’ll either love as special bonus features or else condemn as crapware and immediately uninstall. As well as a document editor, file manager and media players, you’ll find some businessy apps for hooking up to and making the most of Acer’s cloud service.
There’s also a ‘Quick Mode’ which will be well suited to older users, with its simple, stripped-down desktop and larger fonts. You can still add whatever apps you like to the desktop, so all of your favourites can be quickly accessed with a tap.
Also worth noting is that the Liquid Jade is a Dual SIM delight, handy if you currently carry both personal and work phones. Just slot both SIMs into the little drawer and you can use either for your calls, texts and data.
Acer Liquid Jade performance and battery life: Awkward
Although the Liquid Jade just about copes with everyday use, we noticed a fair bit of slowdown rearing its ugly head rather often. When booting up the phone, our widgets were little more than swirling loading circles for a minute or so each time. Flicking through menus occasionally gets laggy and apps sometimes take a while to chug into life.
Battery life is unfortunately another awkward turd in the swimming pool. Usually we’d charge the Liquid Jade overnight and use it for emails and texts and a tiny bit of web browsing each morning, and come noon it was usually already at least half depleted. It’ll just about last the day if you’re restrained, but that’s with the CPU power saving mode activated. Try streaming video or playing games and the Jade will be history in just under three hours, a pretty poor result all-round.
Acer Liquid Jade camera: Stay out of the dark
A 13-megapixel camera juts out of the Liquid Jade’s rear and that’s a pretty high pixel count considering the cost of the phone. In good lighting conditions, the happy news is that you’ll capture sharp photos boasting realistic colours and plenty of detail, even with closies. It’s an easy match for the new Moto G in terms of daylight performance.
In low light, the Liquid Jade’s camera starts to suffer, with images often appearing grainy – and that’s if the auto-focus actually manages to work at all. You’ve got a basic LED flash to help out, but even with that enabled, we found the auto-focus sometimes crapped out on us, giving blurred results.
You also have a 2-megapixel front-facing cam for capturing slightly fuzzy selfies.
Acer has added in a ton of bonus modes to play with, including the usual panorama and burst modes, plus a terrifying beauty mode that makes your whole family look like demented anime sex pests. Then there’s the more unique features, such as the multi-angle mode which can be used to snap something from six or seven different positions and then flick through them at will. Of course, this feature only works on the phone, so its use is rather limited.
Acer Liquid Jade verdict
For £229, the Liquid Jade is sadly a little overpriced, although you can find it cheaper if you look hard enough. We really like the thin and light design, while the 5–inch screen is bright and crisp enough for everyday use and kicking back with some movies on the go, but the excellent Moto G boasts exactly the same pros and pretty much none of the cons.
|Screen resolution||720p HD (720x1280)|
|OS||Android 4.4 KitKat|
|Rear Camera||13-megapixel w/ single LED flash|
|Processor||Quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex A7|
|Bonus features||Dual SIM|