The Acer Liquid Z3 is a sub £100 handset and a direct follow-on to the Acer Liquid Z2. Running Google’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS, the Z3 isn’t the most cutting edge smartphone doing the rounds, but dual-SIM capabilities and a dual-core CPU make it a more appealing option to those looking for a defined work-life balance. With a 3.5-inch display, the Z3 is a direct rival to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Fame. Available in both black and white, retailers are offering the Acer Liquid Z3 between £79.99 and £99.99 on a SIM-free basis.
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Acer Liquid Z3: Design
The Acer Liquid Z3’s design does little to shake off the phone’s budget billing. It is a cheap looking handset with a gloss plastic body finished with a matt removable rear plate. Although the softtouch rear gives the phone a confused, two-tone look, the textured nature of the back panel provides the Z3 with added grip.
This added purchase proves a welcome addition against the phone’s boxy design too. Although relatively small in stature, the Z3 feels a little bulky and awkward when held. The phone's 10.4mm thickness is pretty standard for the entry-level market, as is its 120g weight, but blocky corners mean the Z3 never really fits comfortably in the hand.
A sizeable bezel further detracts from the Z3’s design. Although the phone is small when compared with the flagship likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and LG G2, its 3.5-inch display feels a little lost within the expansive plastic framing. This is not particularly unusual on the budget smartphone scene, though, with the bezel-heavy design similar to that on the Samsung Galaxy Fame and the LG Optimus L3.
The Z3's button placement is reasonably strong, causing no major concerns during use. All physical controls are in no danger of accidental presses, and the few physical buttons included – power/sleep and a volume rocker – feature a pleasing level of resistance. Overall, the Acer Liquid Z3’s design is basic, sadly doing nothing to set the phone apart from the mass of basic Android offerings on the market.
Screen quality is one of the Acer Liquid Z3’s most disappointing features. Although sub-£100 handsets are not renowned for their premium screens, the Z3's display is more like those found in phones half the price, such as the Vodafone Smart Mini. The Acer Liquid Z3’s screen is small, bleak and offers grainy, unappealing visuals that do nothing to encourage its use as a multimedia provider.
The phone features a 480 x 320 LCD panel that yields just a 165 pixels-per-inch. The result of this low grade panel is images that feel diluted and substandard, even for a budget phone.
The Z3's screen quality is depleted by washy colours and a lack of detail and clear, sharp edges to images. Using the Z3 to browse web pages, text looks undefined and slightly blurred while images are blocky and of a disappointingly low quality. When viewing back video content, this low quality display provides a stilted experience which fails to flow or promote continued use.
Sadly, it’s not just visually that the Liquid Z3’s screen disappoints. The phone’s touch elements are a little slow and unresponsive at times, meaning the phone can feel laggy, and somewhat irritating in use. Although supporting multi-finger gestures, the Z3 feels clunky and jumpy when carrying out pinch-to-zoom actions, with the touch panel often avoiding commands and acting with a mind of its own. Accentuating an issue felt by many touchscreen phones, the Liquid Z3’s screen feels especially prone to being smeared and depleted by greasy finger marks and all other amounts of grime.