We go hands on with Acer's latest budget smartphone, the Liquid Zest 4G
Following on from last year’s nippy Jade Z, Acer now has a new, fruity addition to its Liquid smartphone range: the Liquid Zest and Liquid Zest 4G. The latter, as its name implies, supports 4G, but otherwise the two phones are more or less identical.
Both have a 5in, 1,280×720 resolution display encased in a smooth plastic rear, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a wide-angle 5-megapixel front camera, and both run Android 6.0 out of the box. The main difference is the type of chipset running inside them. The regular Zest has a quad-core 1.3GHz processor – most likely a Snapdragon 210 – while the Zest 4G has a quad-core 1.0GHz MediaTek MT6735 processor.
Admittedly, the choice of a MediaTek processor immediately sends alarm bells ringing. After all, the Liquid Jade Z had a MediaTek chip, and while it excelled at CPU-based tasks, its gaming performance fell pretty flat. Still, when the Zest 4G costs just £120 (the regular Zest is even cheaper at £90), this might just about be forgiveable – all will be revealed once I get one in for review to test more thoroughly.
On the plus side, though, the 5in display looks more promising. Much like Apple’s latest iPad tablets, the Liquid Zest doesn’t have an air gap between the touch panel and LCD module, which helps to cut down on reflections and improve readability in bright sunshine. Naturally, it still picks up some reflections, of course, but sunlight readability is definitely a step-up compared to other budget smartphones I’ve tested.
In terms of the screen’s overall quality, I was disappointed to that whites had a noticeable green tinge to them, but colours still looked reasonably rich and punchy, and blacks looked pretty dark and deep even on maximum brightness. Again, I’ll have to wait and see how it fares in our colorimeter tests before I can assess its true value, but for a budget smartphone, the display looks as though it could be one of the Zest’s biggest assets.
I’ll be testing the 8-megapixel camera out in more detail over the next 24 hours, but perhaps the most surprising thing about it is that you can shoot at 8-megapixels in both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Usually, shooting in 16:9 crops the sensor, lowering the megapixel count as a result. Here, though, you can shoot in both without losing out on resolution. There are also ISO, white balance and exposure settings to tinker with, as well as various modes and filters.
Another prominent feature on the back of the Zest 4G is its large speaker. With built-in DTS HD Premium Sound support, the Zest 4G can deliver some pretty beefy audio for such an inexpensive handset. You’ll still get a better listening experience by plugging in a pair of headphones, but when I loaded up the Batman vs Superman soundtrack on Spotify, for instance, the bass certainly had a palpable kick to it. Its mid range got a little lost, but it’s certainly no worse than your set of average laptop speakers.
We shouldn’t have to wait long before final review samples arrive either, as the Zest 4G is due out in the UK this month. The regular Zest is already on sale, but I’ll bring you my final verdict as soon as I can.