At the Mobile World Congress 2015, happening this week in Barcelona, Spain, Acer announced four new smartphones, including three Androids and the company's first Windows Phone device since the Windows Phone 7 running Acer W4 from 2011. At this time, none of these phones are slated for a North America release, but that could change in the future.
The top-end device Acer demonstrated was the Liquid Jade Z, which is a similar phone to the Liquid Jade S shown at CES 2015. Both are five-inch screen devices that visually look identical, other than the Z's new smoother "silk" finish on its back. It is in the internal specifications that the differences are found; Acer defines the Z phones as entry-level devices, so the Jade Z is a budget version of the Jade S.
The Jade S is a €299 mid-range flagship phone with a MediaTek MT6752M 64-bit octa-core SoC, which sports eight ARM Cortex-A53 CPUs and a Mali T760 GPU. The Jade S also has 16 GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM. The new Liquid Jade Z is €199 and is powered by the slower MediaTek MT6732 64-bit quad-core SoC, which has four ARM Cortex-A53 CPUs and a Mali T760 GPU. Acer says customers can expect approximately 30 percent lower performance from this chip. Other than the SoC differences, the new Jade Z also only has 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM.
However, other than those internal differences the S and Z are identical. Both have 5-inch HD Zero Air Gap IPS screens that use Gorilla Glass 3, and both have 13MP f/1.8 cameras on the back and 5MP cameras upfront. They both support LTE; both have Acer's unique dual-SIM and microSD combination slot, and both have 2,300 mAh non-removable batteries.
Like the Jade S, the Jade Z will also come with Android 4.4 Kit Kat, with a promised upgrade to Lollipop later in Q2 2015. Acer explained that the reason the Jade Z won't ship with Lollipop is that MediaTek SoCs don't currently support Android 5.0 but will very soon. Apparently, not soon enough for the Jade Z's release.
We got a chance to look at the Jade Z and found it to be a well-made reasonably attractive but ultimately unexciting mid-range phone. The €100 price delta between the Z and S, even though they look almost identical, is in line with the Z's SoC performance difference and lower storage and RAM specs. The Acer Liquid Jade Z will be released in Europe in March in white and black.
The other two phones being announced continue the trend of being lower-end devices, with one of them having a slightly confusing higher model number than a product announced at CES. At CES, Acer announced the €129 Liquid Z410 that was a 4.5-inch qHD-screen, MediaTek MT6732-powered LTE phone. Now at MWC 2015, Acer is targeting an even lower class of phones and has announced the Liquid Z220 and Liquid Z520.
The Z220 is a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 powered Android smartphone with a four-inch TN WVGA display. It has a 5MP (with flash) rear and 2MP front-facing cameras. It also has 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM, a microSD slot and a removable 1,300 mAh battery.
However, despite being one of Acer's lowest-end phones, it has the distinction of being the first Acer phone to come with Android 5.0 Lollipop, since it has a Qualcomm SoC that can run Android 5.0.
At €89, it undercuts the new Moto E as one of the cheapest Android Lollipop phones, but with the Z220 you are getting a smaller lower-resolution screen, and it is only 3G. It is coming out in March.
The Z520 is a step-up from the Z220 with a bigger five-inch IPS FWVGA display. However, despite being an IPS panel, it does not have a Zero Air Gap display, which does impact viewing angles considerably. It has a better 8MP rear camera that can be voice-activated, a removable 2,000 mAh battery and a microSD slot, which are important features to many of our readers.
Like the Z220, it has 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM. However, it does not use a Qualcomm SoC; instead, it runs a 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7 quad-core 32-bit MediaTek MT6582 SoC. This means it can't run Lollipop (yet), so it comes with KitKat. The Z520 is €109 and will be released in Europe in April.
The last device is the Liquid M220, which is a Windows Phone 8.1 version of the same hardware as the Z220 mentioned above. It has the same four- inch WVGA TN display, 5MP camera (with flash) at the back and 2MP at the front, removable 1,300 mAh battery and uses a Snapdragon 200 SoC. It does, unfortunately, only have 4 GB of storage and 512 MB of RAM.
Acer also announced that M220 will have "future upgradeability to Windows Phone 10." There is a catch, though. While nothing is official since Microsoft still needs to release more information, Acer told us the Windows Phone 10 running on a device with such a small amount of RAM may be missing some features. The M220 will be available in April in white and black for €79.