Ever since Acer teased the intriguing Liquid Jade Primo, a Windows 10 smartphone shrouded in mystery, we've been angling for more details. We finally have them, and all we had to do was fly to Taipei and ask in person.
We got the specs we needed, but we also got a surprise: There isn't just one Jade Primo. There are two. And they are indeed going to ship with a whole pile of peripherals to deliver that smartphone-as-a-PC experience.
One of the Primo models will have a 5-inch display, and the other will have a 5.5-inch display; both are full HD affairs. Although we don't (ahem, yet) have specs for the smaller sibling, 5.5-inch Liquid Jade Primo will sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of onboard storage.
We don't know anything about the camera beyond the fact that it's 21MP (8MP on the front), which is, at least, an indication that the optics and sensor might be higher-end. The devices will have USB Type-C ports, and although we don't know which versions of USB (or any other connectivity) they support, we do know that they support Power Delivery. That means the phones can be connected to a monitor, for example, and receive power from that monitor over the USB Type-C cable.
|Acer Liquid Jade Primo (5.5-inch)|
|Display||-FHD Super AMOLED display-100% NTSC color saturation-Zero air gap|
|Soc||-Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 -Dual-core ARM Cortex A57 (up to 2 GHz), quad-core Cortex A53, up to 2 GHz)-Adreno 418 GPU|
|RAM||3 GB RAM|
|Cameras||-21MP rear, Sony sensor-8MP front|
|Connectivity||USB Type-C port, with Power Delivery|
Acer told us that, at present, the 5-inch model is a "concept," and therefore there are no details to share about its specifications and features for now.
In terms of squared-off design language, which was popular especially on iPhones for a time -- that's out, and round is in. (Or at least Acer feels that way.) The Jade Primo is all about those curves, from the gently rounded back to the round buttons.
The idea here is that a curved chassis is more form-fitting in your hand, and we found that to be true, but that can be said about many of the phones being designed now. The smaller 5-inch version was actually a little more substantial and solid (it was made from some kind of metal), and its textured back had a pleasing feel to it.
These are somewhat large phones, too -- although that's both obvious from the specs, and also fairly common these days in the handset world.
Smartphone-As-PC, With Peripherals
The base specs of the Liquid Jade Primo smartphones are solid, but not eye-popping, compared to other higher-end handsets available, but the basic specs are not their key feature. Instead, Acer sees these phones as harbingers of a new paradigm of smartphones-as-PCs. We discussed this very topic recently when ST Liew, President of Acer's Smartphone Business Group, performed a (wireless!) onstage demo of Continuum running on the phone.
The peripherals that Liew alluded to -- the docking station, mouse and keyboard -- will indeed ship with the Jade Primo. Taken together, they'll offer an experience wherein you can dock your Jade Primo and use Windows 10 (for phones) on a large monitor with full mouse and keyboard support.
We were told that the monitor will probably be an option you can add on if you want it (it makes sense), so apparently when Liew suggested that Acer might ship a monitor with the smartphone, he wasn't just riffing.
Acer also said that it might bundle some "light computing devices" as well, but that's just an idea that the smartphone group is toying with; nothing is solid on that front yet. (We would speculate that such a companion would likely be a smartwatch of some kind, or a very lightweight Chromebook or cloudbook-like laptop.)
To recap: When you buy an Acer Liquid Jade Primo, you'll get a mouse, keyboard, dock and maybe a monitor. With Continuum support, you'll therefore be getting a (more or less) full Windows environment in which to work, too.
Pricing And Availability
How much all of the above will cost remains unknown at this point, possibly because Acer itself hasn't determined it in full. We also don't know anything firm on carrier support. At least one Acer rep told us that the company doesn't have "imminent" plans for a North American launch, so that's the hangup on that data point.
However, we do know that the Liquid Jade Primos will be available by the end of the year -- somewhere in the world. Liew told us that Acer has focused first on markets where the Acer business computing products do exceedingly well, including some countries in Europe and Southeast Asia, and that he's been hard at work in North America lately, as well. On the Liquid Jade Primo, then, U.S. availability is to be determined, but we expect it to arrive stateside some time in 2016.
Update, 10/20/15, 7:07am PT: Added clarification about the 5-inch Liquid Jade Primo's current status as a concept phone.
Seth Colaner is the News Director at Tom's Hardware. He curates and edits the news channel and also writes on a variety of topics. He would have become a professional ultimate Frisbee player, but he was born 15 years too early.