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Acer is more known for their PC and Laptop business, but their lineup of smartphones actually looks good and properly priced. We got our hands on the Acer Liquid Zest Plus, and on paper, it seems to be a pretty well made device especially for a little less than PhP8,000. But can this phone walk the talk? Let’s find out in this full review.

Packaging

Normally, I wouldn’t include this as part of the review but, It’s just that the way this phone was packaged is special.

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Aside from the usual charger, data cable, and earbuds, it turns out that the box itself can be used as a VR headset in a few easy steps! Now that is how you present a product! Props to Acer for this.x

Design and Build Quality

While primarily made of plastic, the phone doesn’t feel like it’ll easily break when you’re holding it. The back panel has a matte finish and when combined with the soft rounded corners gives you a good grip. Looking at the device, it resembles a combination of the Nexus 5 and LG G Pro 2, which I really like.Up front are the usual suspects: The 5MP front facing camera, a slew of other sensors, some branding, and a front firing speaker, which is always a welcome addition.

The absence of a physical home button means that much of your navigation will be done on-screen. Looking at the right side of the device, you’ll find the power button and volume rocker. The buttons are made of plastic, wobble a bit which makes them feel cheap. They also take a little more effort than usual to press.

On top is a 3.5mm headphone jack, at the bottom is a MicroUSB port, and finally at the back is a 13MP camera with the laser auto-focus module, and a single speaker with an Acer and DTS-HD branding.

Display

The 5.5-inch 720p display of the Liquid Zest Plus has a color temperature which tends to lean on the cooler side. Text is sharp, brightness is good even at 50%, as well as viewing angles. In general, the display should be more than satisfactory for most users, though I think it would’ve been nice if they slashed off a little more of the bezels around the display.

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Performance

Here are the specs of the Acer Liquid Zest Plus.

Processor MediaTek MTK6735 Quad-core 1.3GHz
Graphics Mali-T720 MP2
RAM 2GB
Storage 16GB Expandable via MicroSD Card
Display 5.5-inches 720 x 1280 pixels
Battery 5000mAh
Camera 13MP/5MP
Dual SIM Yes
Interface MicroUSB
LTE Yes

 

Benchmarks

General Use

Though UI navigation was for the most part, smooth, I did encounter a little lag when attempting to add a Google Account, and installing the Facebook app took 5 minutes after download. Other tasks such as watching Youtube videos, browsing social media, and reading emails were handled with no issues.

Gaming

Overall, I had a satisfying experience playing games on the Liquid Zest Plus as casual games like DJ Max Technika Q ran without any problems. Moving on to heavy games, Implosion and Asphalt 8 ran just fine. Though I had to turn the setting for Asphalt 8 to medium for smoother gameplay. High setting is still playable, but you’ll really notice some lag. The device also tends to heat up very fast, though not to the point wherein it’s uncomfortable to hold.

Audio

The single speaker at the back is positioned in such a way that it might get covered by your hand when using the phone in landscape mode which might affect the overall experience. In terms of sound quality, it falls a bit short on loudness, and while clarity is sufficient on normal volume, it gets a little distorted when maxed regardless of whether DTS Premium Sound is on or off. Unless you are in a very quiet environment, you’ll have to turn up the volume to at least 80%. Of course, you can always just plug in a good set of earphones.

Camera

The phone’s 13MP rear shooter focuses quite fast thanks to the dedicated laser auto-focus module. And while colors are represented accurately and overall brightness is good, the photos tend to lack sharpness even with ample lighting. In low light conditions, things just seem to get worse as photos came out with a lot of noise even with flash enabled. The 5MP front-facing camera however, produces selfies with good amount of detail and sharpness.

The camera interface offers several shooting modes for you to play with. There’s also an Expert mode which gives you more control over your captures by adjusting white balance, ISO, etc. The nice thing about it is that this mode is also available when taking selfies, which is a big plus, provided that even on auto, they already look great.

Software

The phone runs on Android Marshmallow, and retains most of the stock elements of the Operating System. Thus, general navigation is buttery smooth. Acer has added a few apps of their own.  Such as Aid Kit, which is basically your command center with options for optimizing system performance, monitoring battery usage, and managing apps. There’s also GameZone which supposedly boosts game performance and allows you to record your gameplay and it’s good to note that the overall experience was still smooth even when recording. Good job there for Acer.

Battery

The 5000mAh battery of the Liquid Zest Plus really put on a show on my tests. The phone lasted for almost two days with light to moderate usage. This includes browsing email, a few hours of youtube, Facebook, and app installation. To test heavy usage, I tested the phone by playing a movie on loop at about 50% brightness and 80% volume. Under these circumstances, the phone managed to last for 11 hours, which is very good.

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When Acer says fast charging, they mean it. Using the supplied charger, the phone was able to achieve full charge from 27% in less than an hour and a half.

Verdict

The Acer Liquid Zest is a good option for anyone looking for a daily driver. It looks beautiful (except for the big bezels on the display), performs well in daily tasks, and has excellent battery life. On the downside, the camera performance is a little disappointing. Also, an extra 1GB of RAM could’ve made it so much better, considering that a lot of the competition have embraced putting 3GB or even 4GB of RAM even on their more budget oriented devices.

The Good

  • Packaging
  • Easy to get a good grip on
  • Runs on mostly stock elements
  • Excellent Battery Life
  • Fast Charging

The Not So Good

  • Thick bezels on the display hinders the overall look
  • Physical buttons feel cheap
  • Rear camera could use some improvement
  • 2GB of RAM
  • The Price

Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.