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Acer's Liquid Z220 and Z520 are a pair of low-cost Androids (hands-on)

The 5-inch Liquid Z520 and the 4-inch Liquid Z220 won't cost you very much.

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Nate Ralph Richard Trenholm
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Nate Ralph

Associate Editor

Associate Editor Nate Ralph is an aspiring wordsmith, covering mobile software and hardware for CNET Reviews. His hobbies include dismantling gadgets, waxing poetic about obscure ASCII games, and wandering through airports.

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Richard Trenholm

Movie and TV Senior Editor

Richard Trenholm is CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture over the past 15 years from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.

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2 min read

Acer has a pair of new budget smartphones aimed at giving folks a taste of the Android experience, for less -- and for your money you get that rarest of things: a bit of character.

We'll start with the Liquid Z520: it has a 5-inch display, powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. There's just 8GB of storage, but you'll also find a microSD card slot to give you a bit more breathing room. The 8-megapixel rear shooter is joined by a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and this 3G phone also offers optional support for a pair of SIM cards. The phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat -- there's no word on if or when it'd see an upgrade to Lollipop.

Acer Liquid Z520 doesn't cheap out on personality (pictures)

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And then there's the Liquid Z220, which is Acer's first smartphone running Android 5.0 Lollipop. The phone is equipped with a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, paired with 1GB of RAM. There's just 8GB of storage, though you can supplement that with a microSD card. There's a 5-megapixel shooter on the rear, and a 2-megapixel camera up front. This 3G phone has a 4-inch display with a density of 233 pixels per inch, and offers optional support for dual SIM cards.

The 4-inch display isn't small, but it feels crowded because of the enormous bezel -- just look at that expanse of black space under the screen.

Acer Liquid Z220 has a bit of character (pictures)

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Apart from that wasted space on the face of the Z220, the two phones do stand out in terms of design. In a world of smooth, glossy, shiny rectangles, the two Lenovos are all about texture: the rear case has a pleasantly toothy surface, like rough paper or wallpaper. It feels grippy and it's fun to run your fingernail over it.

To top that off, the silver band around the edge of each phone has small raised squares. They're not quite big enough to do much for your grip of these extremely light phones, but they add a bit of character.

The Z220 will be available in Europe for 89 euros. International availability hasn't been confirmed for either device, but that converts to about $100, £65 or AU$130. The Z520 will cost 109 euros, which converts to roughly $120, £80 or AU$155, although expect final prices to vary considerably.

There's plenty more news to come from this year's Mobile World Congress, so be sure to check back for all of our coverage.

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