Acer Liquid Jade 2 hands-on impressions

Acer kicks Windows 10 to the side for the Android-powered Liquid Jade 2

Acer’s replaced Windows 10 with Android on the already-neat Jade Primo, making the Liquid Jade 2, and it’s all the better for it

If you saw the Windows 10-powered Acer Jade Primo earlier this year and thought, “Wow, I wish that ran Android,” then your prayers have been answered. The Liquid Jade 2 is almost identical, apart from swapping out Microsoft’s OS with Google’s. This could make the difference between people buying the big Acer phone, and people not caring it even exists.

That’s a shame, because like the Jade Primo, the Liquid Jade 2 is one of Acer’s better smartphones we’ve tried out. This is helped dramatically by the ultra-comfortable shape. It’s beautifully curved and fits in the palm well, and there’s a big piece of 2.5D glass over the 5.5-inch 1080p screen. Although the rear panel isn’t metal, it does a very job of looking like it is, with a very cool hairline brushed effect that catches the light nicely. The camera lens and its surround is massive though, as is the speaker grill at the opposite end of the body.

Acer has launched a smart case with the Liquid Jade 2 that works a lot like the cases we’ve seen for the LG G3, and various Samsung and HTC phones. There’s a window in the front folio cover that’s oblong rather than circular. If it was a window in a building, it would be one through which you’d shoot arrows. The shape actually makes sense, because it falls so well to hand — or thumb — when holding the device. This is important because you scroll through option pages by swiping up and down. There’s everything from battery level and notification alerts, to app shortcuts and even a camera preview window. This doesn’t make much sense though, and the G3’s round window worked better.

The same AMOLED panel that made the Jade Primo such a visual star is also on the Liquid Jade 2, and a Snapdragon 808 quad-core chip powers the device with 3GB of RAM. The camera has 21 megapixels, 4K video recording, and a dual-LED flash, while the selfie cam has 8 megapixels and auto face-detection. When it spots you, a three-second countdown begins before it takes a snap, so you best be ready. Plug in a pair of headphones, and you’ll get virtual surround surround sound using DTS Headphone:X, and stream audio using DTS Play-Fi. It’s the first time these two features have been seen together in a single device.

The Liquid Jade 2 will be sold in the U.S. this year, but Acer’s other smartphones won’t join it, and instead are headed to Europe. There are two Liquid Zest models, one with 3G and the other with 4G LTE. Apparently, there is still demand among networks for a 3G-only phone, and the Zest will cost 110 euros. That’s a strong price for a 5-inch 720p phone with a quad-core processor and an 8-megapixel camera. The 4G model will be around 150 euros and is powered by a newer MediaTek processor than the 3G phone.

If you’re tempted by the Liquid Jade 2, it’s going to be sold through Acer’s own online store and various retailers, with a cost and release date to be finalised very soon, but we know it’ll arrive before summer.

Highs:

  • Neat design
  • Gorgeous AMOLED screen
  • Funky folio case
  • Not Windows 10

Lows:

  • No price yet
  • Not quite stock Android
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