LAS VEGAS -- Who says you can't get a satisfying smartphone experience for not much money, and with no contract? Certainly not Acer. The company just pulled the wraps off of its Liquid Z5 handset at CES 2014 which packs a big screen, Android Jelly Bean, and DTS sound into a solid unibody design.
Powered by a 1.3GHz dual-core Mediatek processor that's paired with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage, the Liquid Z5 is by no means a mobile powerhouse. Even so, Acer explained to me that it has worked hard to optimize the Liquid Z5's software for its specific hardware allotment. As a result, Acer says the phone handles smoothly and with surprising verve considering the Z5's modest components.
The company also installed a special filter that's designed to pump up the phone's 5-inch screen's contrast. I can say that the display does offer a bit of pop in terms of colors and has wider viewing angles than I typically see from LCD screens. That said, while details looked defined in sample videos I watched, they had an odd separated (almost interlaced) quality. I suppose you can only expect so much from a FWVGA (854x480 pixels) panel.
Other features you'll see on the Acer Liquid Z5 are a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. Next to that is a clear, concave button that also sits on the phone's back side. Called AcerRapid, this multifunction key contextually performs different tasks depending on the state of the phone. For instance pressing the button when the device is off will turn it on. It will also take you to the home screen, or play/pause tracks within the music app, and so forth. And to provide more engaging sound, the handset is equipped with a stereo speaker and onboard DTS audio technology.
Want to get your hands on the Acer Liquid Z5? Shoppers in Europe and Asia will be able to snatch one up unlocked for 169 Euros or its equivalent. Sorry American Android shoppers -- since Acer won't sell the Z5 on US shores, your best budget (and unlocked) Android option remains the Motorola Moto G.