• Android Jelly Bean
• Diminutive form-factor
• Low price
• Cheap build materials
• Poor display
• Susceptible to lag
Those with even the slightest familiarity with consumer tech will have noticed the name Acer before, especially as it’s breaking ground in the mobile market. Following the mid-range Liquid E1 and superb Galaxy Note-alike Liquid S1 phablet comes this capable Android device for the thrifty, the Liquid Z2 Duo. But can it still provide a solid smartphone experience at under £100?
No expense spent
Those expecting premium build quality will be sadly disappointed when first clapping eyes on the Liquid Z2, as the diminutive 3.5-inch body comprises mainly of plastics. That said, when you learn that this pocket rocket comes in at just £90 the decision to use these materials becomes less of a niggle and you might even commend Acer for managing to construct a reasonably good-looking smartphone that won’t break the bank.
A 3.5-inch display dominates the front facia with only the slightest of black plastic bezels enveloping it. So far, so nondescript, but hats off to Acer for introducing a bit of design flourish in the form of a tiny grille at both the summit and foot of the screen.
Round the back things get a little more interesting and the cambered rear panel is finished in a sort of metallic grey soft-touch plastic with the 3-megapixel camera module centrally positioned at the top. Directly opposite this at the bottom of the rear cover is a speaker grille exactly the same proportions but which has been designed in such a way that it looks like one of those hair-catcher things you put in the plughole of your shower.
Pay and display
Ninety quid won’t even get you a miniscule HD TV, so Retina Display-esque performance from the screen on this bargain blower just isn’t going to happen. Even so, the performance offered from the 320x480 resolution display leaves a lot to be desired and its small stature means that extended video streaming and gaming sessions are out of the question. App icons are squashed into the limited space available and look slightly fuzzy round the edges – pixel spotters will have a field day with this one.
It’s not all doom and gloom though – we’ve seen poorer displays on devices with much higher retail prices than this (Samsung Galaxy Ace, we’re looking at you) and unless you’re used to the display chops offered by the recent crop of 5-inch superphones, this does the job so long as you don’t ask too much of it.
Latest Android won’t cost you a (jelly) bean
The main draw here is the latest(ish) iteration of Google’s mobile platform, Android 4.1.1, which to find on a phone in this price bracket is unheard of. That means you don’t have to forgo the Orwellian delights of Google Now and sees the most up-to-date version Google Maps in situ (amongst other things).
There’s no Android skin of any sort, aside from a tweaked lockscreen that allows users to ping straight into one of four customisable apps which depending on your stance on this sort of thing, is an added bonus. Navigation can be slightly sluggish however, especially when multitasking, but on the whole, the 1GHz just about pulls it off. As we mentioned, processor-intensive gaming is nigh-on impossible, but if you’re a smartphone novice who just wants a quick bash on Angry Birds, you’ll find no trouble here.
Snap to it
Camera performance is as you’d expect from a device of this stature and the resulting snaps are just about good enough to post to Twitter and the like, but nothing more. There’s no flash but you do get a few shoot modes including Auto scene detect and Smile shot, although resulting images are washed out and lack sharpness regardless.
The Liquid Z2 Duo won’t be troubling the smartphone elite any time soon but those making the jump from featurephones or wanting a cheap second device can do much worse than Acer’s latest low-ender.