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Acer Liquid Zest Plus review - hands on with the 5.5in £199 smartphone

Lee Bell
2 Jun 2016
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A big budget handset promising three days of life thanks to a high-capacity 5,000 mAh battery

Acer has not long released its Liquid Zest and Liquid Zest 4G handsets and already the firm has announced a slightly bigger addition to the fruity line-up a, named the Liquid Zest Plus.

The best thing about the Liquid Zest line-up was the price. The handsets started at just £90 when they were released earlier this year, and while the Zest Plus isn’t quite as cheap, it brings some substantial upgrades over its siblings while still only costing £199.

However, the biggest feature of the Liquid Zest Plus is its enormous 5,000mAh battery that Acer claims offers up to 3 days’ usage on one charge. Phone manufacturers are often keen to tout huge battery life claims, but they rarely live up to them in real-life tests. That said, it's a genuinely huge battery, the Galaxy S7 only has 3,000mAh for example, and so should impress in our tests.

Something else I’d like to put to the tests is Acer’s claims that the Zest Plus quick-charges to 50 percent capacity in less than one hour to give users over a day's worth of power. There’s also a feature called USB On-The-Go technology, which lets the Zest Plus share its power with other devices, so you can charge a friend's 'lesser' handset or even your own wearable device from the handset.

Acer Liquid Zest Plus smartphone apps

Thankfully, Acer has kept some of the features that made the previous iterations of this phone so favourable. Take its lack of air gap between the touch panel and LCD module, for instance. This isn't uncommon anymore but it's good to see on a cheaper handset; with this nifty bit of engineering helping to cut down on reflections and improve readability in bright sunshine. The Zest Plus still picks up some reflections, however - it’s to be expected - but readability under bright lights proved it offered an improvement compared to other budget smartphones I've tested. Definitely a nice touch for such a budget phone.

Acer Liquid Zest Plus smartphone back

At £199, the Zest Plus doesn’t feel as cheap as you’d expect. Yes, it’s mainly made of plastic, and it’s by no means anything to stare at in wonder. However, with a 5.5in IPS screen, the Zest Plus moves into small phablet territory, and it bright vivid colours and detailed display make it feel more expensive as a result. It's reportedly only got a 1,280x720 resolution but that's still 267 pixels-per-inch and it holds up prety well. 

Acer Liquid Zest Plus smartphone side

On the inside, the Liquid Zest Plus uses a quad-core 1.3Ghz Mediatek chipset backed up by 2GB of RAM, which is a budget combination, though Android 6.0 Marshmallow ran smoothly on the sample handset. On the side of the Liquid Zest Plus there’s also a MicroSD slot for expandable storage.

One of my favourite features, is the optional flip case, which can be added by swapping out the rear casing of the phone. The cover has a slender, central window where notifications and controls will appear. While it’s not a new concept by any means, it looks great, and saves you having to flip open the cover to check certain notifications such as weather, messages, calendar, as well as access the camera.

Acer Liquid Zest Plus smartphone case

Speaking of cameras, the Liquid Zest Plus includes a 13MP snapper with an ultra-fast hybrid focusing system to capture moving subjects in tough lighting. Acer said this is possible because it intelligently focuses based on the conditions: phase detection auto-focusing (PDAF) for bright daylight scenes, laser focusing for dark scenes at short distances (such as restaurants), and contrast detection auto-focusing (CDAF) to capture subjects in low light. We were able to perform a few snaps during our hands-on review and while focusing seemed fairly fast, the handset did then take a few seconds to save the photo successfully. 

Overall, we were quite impressed with Acer’s Liquid Zest Plus. It has a good array of unique features, especially considering its cost. First impressions tells us it’s potentially a great budget phone with an impressive battery life. But at the same time we expect it will likely suffer from mediocre performance once you get all your apps and files on it. Acer said the Liquid Zest Plus will be available in ‘Moroccan Blue’ and 'Andes White’ colours from July.