Originally unveiled during this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Acer’s Liquid Zest is the company’s latest foray into the budget smartphone segment.
The tech manufacturer designed it for a young generation, with a simple design and a handful of essential features to satisfy their daily communication and entertainment needs. This Android-powered smartphone locally retails at P3,999.
Bound in a slim plastic body, the Zest looks a bit nondescript except for the shiny chrome rings around its camera lens and earpiece. This phone comes in black and white with a VGA cam and a touchscreen display in front, and an 8-megapixel cam, LED flash, and speaker on its matte-finished rear. Its microUSB port is at the bottom for both charging and data cable connections, while a 3.5 audio port is situated at the top. On its right side is the volume rocker along with the power button.
Despite its plasticky exteriors, the Zest feels compact and solidly built. At 145×71.2×8.4mm and 125g, it fits snuggly in your hand and not that bulky if you put it in your pocket.
After so much diddling around the four-inch to 5.5-inch territories, today’s standard smartphone build seems to carry a five-inch touchscreen. And the one on the Zest nicely illustrates why: it’s comfortable to use but manages to still give you an optimal viewing experience. It may not be phablet large, but it’s big enough for displaying bright visuals with easily thumbable app icons and on-screen keyboard keys, without giving you thumb strain during one-handed use.
With a high-def 720 resolution, the responsive touchscreen is especially optimized by an integrated IPS Display feature that gives it clear viewing angles. Along with this, Acer also threw in what it calls Zero Air Gap, which decreases the space between the touch panel and the LCD screen. This reduces the amount of reflections on the screen, a nice feature you’ll undoubtedly appreciate when you’re in the sunny outdoors.
A quad-core 1.3 GHz processor is at the heart of the Zest, and paired with two RAM/ROM configurations: one with 8GB of internal storage and a gigabyte of memory, and another with a more sizeable storage at 16GB and a beefier 2GB memory. Storage is not exactly meager, but since this is marketed as a lifestyle handset for younger users, entertainment and gaming apps, loads of music, videos, and photos are expected. As such, you’ll find the microSD card slot at the back (along with the two SIM card slots) very useful for expanding storage space.
These are decent under the hood specs these days and would enable you to multitask smoothly, though you might experience a tad bit of delay should you decide to add resource-intensive apps into the mix.
Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) runs on this smartphones, coated by Acer’s own Liquid UI user interface, so navigation is pretty straightforward and intuitive. Aside from Wi-Fi, it has a selection of wireless connectivity options: from the slower GPRS and EDGE, to faster HSPA+ and WCDMA. If you prefer a faster unit, however, the Zest also comes in a 4G variety that carries a 1.0GHz processor and, of course, LTE connectivity.
The 5-megapixel VGA cam in front offers wide angle shots, delivering decent quality photos in well-lit environments. And that it did, with our daytime indoor test shots coming out bright. Similarly, colors came out vividly in our outdoor photos, though images appeared a little less sharp than we liked. This is easily remediable by tweaking the cam’s settings. Still photos at night, however, showed good contrast but has some amount of noise, which evidently affected clarity and detailing.
The Zest comes with your customary HDR and panoramic presets for shooting still photos, and includes Beautification (visually smoothens and brightens skin; good for selfies), and Gourmet (for taking clear and detailed food pics).
Videos, on the other hand, are captured in 1080p at 30fps. And while the resulting videos were indeed clear, it would’ve been better if zooming in and out were smoother actions instead of the sort-of awkward lurch forward and back in scenes.
Video playback is pretty seamless and accompanied by a good audio system by DTS, an audio company known for developing multichannel digital surround sound technologies. So as expected, the sound quality is impressive and even far less tinny than most phones in the same price range. There seemed to be some decline in bass levels, however, as the volume goes up, but that’s to be expected from most integrated compact speakers. Plug in a pair of earphones for a private listen and you can hear the notable sound quality.
Given its target market, this phone is a good performer. You won’t find many bells and whistles tucked under its plastic enclosures, but what essential features Acer did include can satisfy most of today’s mainstream mobile needs. There may be a few hitches, but nothing too significant to prevent you from enjoying what the phone has to offer.
Considering all these, the Acer Liquid Zest is a very capable budget smartphone. It’s a strong entry for its market segment with features that make it a compelling purchase for anyone looking to get their first Android handset, or a secondary phone.