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Acer's Liquid Jade Z drops into US retailers starting at $229

Acer brings its ultralight 5-inch LTE Liquid Jade Z and Liquid Z410 smartphones stateside.

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Weighing just 110 grams (about 3.8 ounces), the Acer Liquid Jade Z is one of the lightest phones around, and the unlocked 4G LTE Android phone is light on your wallet, too. Available in Europe for 199 euros since March, the phone was just made available in the United States with a starting price of $229. (It's not officially available in the UK or Australia, but it can found online in the UK for £230, and the price translates to about AU$320.) That buys you the baseline model with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage; Acer also sells a model with double the RAM for $20 more. If you need more storage space than what's provided, you can pop in a microSD card into an open slot on the phone -- but only up to 32GB more.

Both editions sport a 5-inch, HD Gorilla Glass 3 screen powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core MediaTek processor. The 2,300mAh battery is reported to offer up to five hours of talk time and 400 hours of standby, and the phone -- only available now in charcoal gray -- also offers optional dual nano-SIMs.

The standout feature is likely to be its voice-activated 13-megapixel camera, whose lens boats a fast f/1.8 aperture. That could make it useful in low light, but we'll definitely need to put the camera through its paces to see how it holds up. If you're more interested in taking selfies, there's a 5-megapixel lens up front that pairs with the phone's "Perfect selfie" mode that enhances low light shooting. The Jade Z also offers Acer's Dual Shot mode, which will take pictures or video from the front and rear cameras simultaneously, so you can create funky picture-in-picture effects.

The porthole-like round camera module at the top of the phone is matched by a round speaker at the bottom of the casing. It's a neat little design touch that gives the phone a bit of personality. The glossy case is pretty samey when compared to other plastic phones, but there is also the option of a case with a pleasant toothy texture, like a rough piece of paper or wallpaper. It's fun to run your fingernail over, and adds a bit of grip to a device that otherwise feels like it might float out of your hand.

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The camera is a decent 13-megapixel job.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Acer also announced a step-down model, the Liquid Z410, for shoppers looking to spend a little less on a phone. It still keeps the weight down at 5.1 ounces but drops the display down to a 4.5 inches with 854x480 resolution. You still get a decent helping of image capturing abilities using the 2-megapixel camera on the front and a rear-facing 5-megapixel snapper.

The Z410's 1.3GHZ quad-core processor (paired with either 1GB or 2GB of RAM) a isn't quite as powerful as the Jade Z, but it also features a replaceable battery that can last up to 5.5 hours of talk time or 400 hours in standby.

The Liquid Z410 hits in September for $129 (1GB RAM) and $149 (2GB RAM). Again, there is no official UK or Australia pricing, but it's available online for about £129, and the price translates to about AU$180 for the entry-level model.

As with most unlocked, direct-to-consumer phones, expect these models to only work on the T-Mobile and AT&T networks in the US, as well as those of their prepaid affiliates, such as Metro PCS and Cricket.

Editors' note: This story was originally published on March 1, 2015, and has been updated with US pricing and additional information.

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