Acer Liquid Z2 Review

Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Geeks, you might want to look away now because what we're reviewing is a low-end Android smartphone. The Acer Liquid Z2, as it is called, is a dual-SIM Android handset with unimpressive specs and plasticky appearance. However, it makes up for its lack of visual appeal and processing power with being extremely affordable, costing roughly $130 to $150 unsubsidized. That makes it a smartphone suitable for buyers on an extremely tight budget, or as a handset a parent would buy for their teenage kid. But if our past experience is to go by, cheap Android phones are often slow and clunky. The Acer Liquid Z2 can't be described as fast either, but it is still a decent pick considering what it costs. Read along to learn more about it!

Design:

Clearly a smartphone as cheap as the Acer Liquid Z2 can't be made of gold and diamonds. Instead, the material of choice is soft-touch plastic, which definitely does not look pretty to us, but it should be sturdy enough to handle even a bit more than the usual wear and tear. Besides, the matte finish provides plenty of grip and resists fingerprints well. Thanks to its shape and small size, the phone can be held and used very comfortably with a single hand.


Acer Liquid Z2
Dimensions

4.33 x 2.46 x 0.48 inches

110 x 62.5 x 12.25 mm

Weight

3.88 oz (110 g)

Sony Xperia tipo
Dimensions

4.06 x 2.24 x 0.51 inches

103 x 57 x 13 mm

Weight

3.51 oz (99 g)

Samsung Galaxy Y
Dimensions

4.09 x 2.28 x 0.45 inches

104 x 58 x 11.5 mm

Weight

3.44 oz (98 g)

LG Optimus L3
Dimensions

4.04 x 2.43 x 0.46 inches

102.6 x 61.6 x 11.8 mm

Weight

4.20 oz (119 g)

Acer Liquid Z2
Dimensions

4.33 x 2.46 x 0.48 inches

110 x 62.5 x 12.25 mm

Weight

3.88 oz (110 g)

Sony Xperia tipo
Dimensions

4.06 x 2.24 x 0.51 inches

103 x 57 x 13 mm

Weight

3.51 oz (99 g)

Samsung Galaxy Y
Dimensions

4.09 x 2.28 x 0.45 inches

104 x 58 x 11.5 mm

Weight

3.44 oz (98 g)

LG Optimus L3
Dimensions

4.04 x 2.43 x 0.46 inches

102.6 x 61.6 x 11.8 mm

Weight

4.20 oz (119 g)

Compare these and other phones using our Size Comparison tool.

You can compare the Acer Liquid Z2 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.



The physical buttons on the smartphone's side are well within reach, although we wish that the power key was a bit more pronounced. The three capacitive keys underneath the screen are responsive and easily reached by our thumb.




Display:

The 3.5-inch touchscreen on the Acer Liquid Z2 is of mediocre quality, yet ranks as passable. One can instantly notice with a naked eye that its resolution is very low – 320 by 480 pixels are spread across its area resulting in a pixel density of only 165ppi. That makes reading small text rather challenging, so be ready to zoom in quite often while surfing the web. At least we can say that the screen's color representation is okay and it can be used on a sunny day, as long the sun is not shining straight at it.



Interface:

We have Android 4.1.1 running on the Acer Liquid Z2 with user interface that has retained its stock form for the most part. That's good news as bloating the UI with extra visual tweaks wouldn't have made sense on a smartphone so weak in terms of processing power. Still, there are a few modifications that deserve to be mentioned. The lock screen can host four shortcuts to frequently used apps, while a dozen of toggle switches are placed in the notification bar – changes that any user would appreciate. On top of that, Acer has thrown in the so-called “Quick Mode”, which is basically a simplified alternative interface providing quick access to the phone's primary features. However, we can't imagine this being useful to anyone who has a basic understanding as to how Android's UI is organized. In addition to all the stock widgets that come with Android 4.1, Acer has included a weather widget of its own and a mobile data counter.


The Acer Liquid Z2 has a dual-SIM variant as well, and the interface of that model has been augmented accordingly. For example, one SIM card can be set to handle voice calls and/or text messages, while data connectivity may be assigned to the second SIM card. Note that while both SIM cards can be on stand-by simultaneously, only one can be active at the same time. In other words, if one of them is used for a phone call, for example, the other one won't be receiving any incoming calls or text messages.

Typing on the virtual keyboard provided with the Acer Liquid Z2 does take getting used to. It feels tiny in portrait mode so typos can be common, especially for users with fingers larger than the average. Swype is present for those of you who are familiar with that alternative input method.



Processor and Memory:

Acer has chosen to go with a low-cost, single-core processor SoC for its Liquid Z2 smartphone. The MediaTek MTK6575 is the chip in question, running at 1GHz and paired with 512MB of RAM. Needless to say, the experience is far from smooth, with choppiness occurring quite often, but overall, the UI is responsive enough to not drive the user crazy. In fact, the smartphone has the guts to run casual video games at good framerates.


Quadrant StandardAnTuTuGLBenchmark 2.5 (Egypt HD)Vellamo
(HTML5 / Metal)
Acer Liquid Z223555483FAIL1198 / 352
Sony Xperia miro1439


LG Optimus L5 II28264511FAIL1297 / 400
Sony Xperia L4223922532071804 / 449


There are only 4GB of on-board storage available on the Acer Liquid Z2, out of which a measly 1.2GB are available to the user. Loading a few apps and games onto the device will quickly cause that space to run out, so using a microSD card with the Z2 is highly recommended.

Web browser and connectivity:

With its smallish, low-res display, the Acer Liquid Z2 not suitable for heavy web browsing, although it is good for looking stuff up on the fly. Both Google Chrome and the stock Android browser come pre-loaded on the device, but it won't really matter which one you pick as their performance and feature set are comparable. While heavy web pages take a while to be displayed, lighter ones are rendered quickly, with acceptable loading times.


No basic connectivity option is missing on the Acer Liquid Z2. The smartphone comes with Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, and Bluetooth. Even an FM radio with RDS is provided as a feature.

Camera:

As basic as it may be, the 5-megapixel, camera on the Acer Liquid Z2 is usable in optimal conditions. The interface is surprisingly rich in features and offers multiple shooting modes, scenes, image fine tuning, even panorama and HDR modes. Tinkering with these settings will not necessarily boost image quality by a great extent, if doing so makes any difference at all, but one might get slightly better results with a little experimenting.


Given enough light, the little snapper can take passable photos that actually look good as long as you don't zoom in. There's a lot of digital noise in them, but overall, the images are worthy of being posted on a Facebook wall. Low-light photos and videos, on the other hand, look abysmal, as if they have been taken with a web-cam. Also, don't even bother trying to take a macro shot as the camera has fixed-focus optics. Videos are captured at a maximum resolution of 640 by 480 pixels, which is very low by today's standards, but acceptable for a smartphone of this class.



Acer Liquid Z2 Sample Video:

Video Thumbnail


Multimedia:

The Acer Liquid Z2 may be cheap, but given enough storage space it can serve as a substitute for an MP3 player. Google's Play Music is the default music app installed on the device, capable of playing back both whatever audio is loaded onto the phone and music that the user has uploaded to the cloud (the latter feature isn't available in all countries). Along with the traditional equalizer, Acer has loaded the so-called “SRS Sound” feature, which allows the bass and treble to be tweaked further to the user's liking.


The stock video player app is very basic in terms of features, and even though it supports many video file formats, it is unable to play them back at resolutions higher than 800 by 480 pixels. The latter isn't too big of a drawback, however, since the screen's resolution is low anyway, so 720p support isn't needed at all. There is a single loudspeaker on the back of the phone, which is decent in terms of loudness, but crackles when set at the maximum level.



Call quality:

Disappointing, to say the least, is the quality of phone calls made with the Acer Liquid Z2. The earpiece is the worst bit as it sounds weak even at the highest volume setting. On the other side of the line, our voice is somewhat muffled, but at least it is loud enough to be understood without much effort.

Battery:

With its 1300mAh removable battery, the Acer Liquid Z2 can deliver 6 hours of talk time, which is average at best. Since the smartphone's hardware isn't too power hungry, it should last through at least a day of moderate usage, but getting through a second day on a single charge would be pretty hard to achieve. Note that squeezing a bit more battery life might be possible by using the Scheduled Power ON/OFF feature, which automatically shuts the phone down and then turns it back on at a predefined time.

Conclusion:

The Acer Liquid Z2 stands out only with being dirt-cheap and nothing more, but that's enough for it to draw the attention of budget-conscious consumers. Despite its weak hardware, it is still a usable, full-fledged Android smartphone with access to tons of applications from Google's library. The fact that it comes with Android 4.1 Jelly bean out of the box is definitely a plus, and so is the dual-SIM option, allowing one to use the services of two carriers simultaneously.

Sadly, the mediocre call quality of the Acer Liquid Z2 is a flaw we must highlight. Buyers who demand having a dual-SIM phone that sounds great during calls should try the Samsung Galaxy Young Duos or the Sony Xperia E dual, both of which have great call quality and offer an identical set of features without costing much more. For a little extra cash, one might also consider trying the Samsung Galaxy Young Duos or the Sony Xperia miro, which may be low-end smartphones too, but come with good cameras for their class. And if Android is not a must, the Nokia Lumia 520 running Windows Phone 8 would be a great alternative to the Acer Liquid Z2 as it is only slightly more expensive, yet it is powered by much better hardware.

Video Thumbnail


Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android 4.1.1
Software version: Acer_AV051_Z120_1.001.00_WW_GEN1H


Pros

  • One of the cheapest Android phones from a known brand
  • Dual SIM phone
  • Compact

Cons

  • Mediocre call quality
  • Below average quality screen

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

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