Acer Liquid Z4 Review

on Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Compared with the smaller Liquid Z3 Duo, Acer has barely modified the Liquid Z4 Duo. The screen's size has grown by half an inch to four inches. The resolution has been more than doubled, and is now 800x480 pixels. Both the processor and graphics unit are identical. MediaTek's MT6572 now clocks faster, and achieves up to 1.3 GHz. The working memory capacity is only 512 MB. Anyone hoping that Acer at least uses Google's hardware-friendly 4.4 KitKat will be disappointed. Like in the precursor, Google's Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is installed on the 4 GB flash storage.
The review sample is positioned between the older Z3 (3.5 inches) and the new Z5 (5.0 inches) so that all common screen sizes should be covered in the Taiwanese manufacturer's entry-level sector. But those are the biggest differences of the smartphones. Its contenders are Huawei's Ascend Y300, Y330 and Y530Sony's Xperia E DualZTE's Blade IIISamsung's Galaxy Fame, andNokia's Lumia 520.


The case of Acer's Liquid Z4 Duo is a bit slimmer than that of the Z3, and does not even achieve a thickness of 10 millimeters (~0.4 inches). It is agreeably light, weighing 104 grams (~3.7 oz), and is comfortable to hold. Though the plastic back is quite slip-proof, it shows every touch
In return, the smartphone proves to be quite robust. It is very stiff, andbarely produces a creaking noise. Pressure on the back or the sidesdoes not lead to wave-formations on the screen. Even the gaps are beyond reproach, and have been processed evenly. Only the choice of materials suggests the price range, but the phone nevertheless belongs to the higher-quality models in this regard.
The Liquid Z4's back can be completely removed. The recess beside the USB port facilitates this. The removable battery and both micro-SIM slots, as well as the slot for storage expansion are found underneath it.


The connectivity of Acer's Liquid Z4 is virtually identical with that of both the Z3 and Z5. The micro-USB 2.0 port is used for recharging the smartphone or for data sharing with a computer. Neither MHL nor OTG is supported. The micro-SD memory card slot supports media with a capacity of up to 32 GB (SDHC).
Acer's Liquid Z4 Duo uses Google's Android 4.2.2 operating system. It is too bad that the Taiwanese manufacturer does not rely on the current 4.4 KitKat version. It would add a significant performance boost, especially considering the weak hardware. The modifications made to the interface are mainly visual, and are very restrained. The included software corresponds to both sister models. Unfortunately, the Live Screen app has apparently not made it into Acer's entry-level sector. In return, the Float apps are installed, which enable easy access to small tools (calculator, stopwatch, etc.).
The Custom Profiles are a real added value. It contains the Quick Mode icon that allows the user to pre-define various profiles, which makes using the smartphone easier for the newcomer target group. In addition to the classic Android interface, there are four other modes: Basic, Senior, Keypad and Classic. The first two are PIN-protected ex-factory, and the app is set up when opened the first time so that changes in the system are not readily possible. The tile-like interface remotely looks like that of Windows Phone. It only includes the basic features and a specified number of speed dial memories. This tremendously facilitates use for newcomers, children, and seniors.

Communication & GPS 
Acer's Liquid Z4 Duo sports a Wi-Fi module that supports the IEEE 802.11 b/g/n standards, and thus operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. The range is rathermiddling; the device only displayed a weak connection quality at a distance of just 15 meters (~49 feet) from the router (Fritz!Box 6360).
Mobile Internet is possible via UMTS/HSPA+ (download max. 41.2 MBit/s; upload max. 5.6 MBit/s). The limited frequency coverage could cause reception problems in rural areas depending on the provider. Bluetooth 4.0 is also available. Data transfer to other devices was easily possible, and audio streaming also functioned well. However, users who stream HD video will notice that the sound is not always in-sync.
The GPS receiver was not as convincing and needed several minutes to find a satellite, even outdoors in clear conditions. The localization accuracy was also not very good compared with the Garmin Edge 500.
Telephony and Speech Quality
The look of the phone app in Acer's Liquid Z4 Duo has only been modified slightly, and is very clearly arranged. The review sample's speech quality is rather moderate though. We could understand our contact well when the phone was held to the ear, and we were also easily understood, though a bit quiet. We were considerably louder over the speakers, but a strong noise and occasional speech dropouts were noticed. The contact's voice is a bit muffled when using the included headset. The microphone should be placed as close to the mouth as possible via its clip because the distortions are so extreme that nothing can be understood anymore.
Acer's Liquid Z4 only sports a rear-facing camera. A webcam is not installed. The lens has a resolution of up to 5 MP (2880x1728 pixels) in the rather unusual aspect ratio of 5:3, which has been adapted to the screen's format. The image quality is mixed. Many details are maintained in high-detail pictures and the image looks comparatively sharp. The overexposure and light bluish cast are very unsightly in return. On the other hand, the pictures quickly look noisy in weak light. However, the occasional snapshot is possible owing to the LED flash. The image quality cannot be called high, which is unsurprising in view of the price range.
Accessories and Warranty
No surprises are found among the included accessories for the Z4. In addition to the modular power supply, there is a data cable, headset, and a few quick start guides for the smartphone.
The manufacturer includes a two-year warranty on the device, and twelve months on the battery and accessories.

Input Devices and Controls

The capacitive touchscreen in Acer's Liquid Z4 Duo detects up to five fingers at the same time. The responsiveness is quite good, but the accuracy could be a bit better. That is particularly noticed when typing on the virtual keyboard. A comparatively high error rate is recorded, which cannot solely be connected to the smaller screen, and the consequently small keyboard.
The sensor buttons below the screen respond well, but are only difficult to recognize especially in weak light. The power button's drop could also be a bit more accurate.
The additional button on the device's back is new. It allows waking up the device directly from standby. A quick tap also opens a pre-defined app that can be selected from the settings. Pressing the button longer directly opens the camera app.


Acer's Liquid Z4 Duo sports the MT6572 dual-core processor from MediaTek. The 1.3 GHz clock is a bit higher than the standard model and roughly 300 MHz faster than the identical CPU in the Z3 Duo. The clock frequency has been increased by 30%. Unfortunately, the increase in speed does not correlate to faster software performance in the Z4 Duo. Minor stutters were recurrent, and apps sometimes needed a moment to open. Besides that, apps repeatedly crashed. Many of the benchmark programs did not open or did not completely finish. This will primarily be due to the working memory's low capacity (512 MB).
The benchmarks quickly prove that a clock rate increase does not boost the performance proportionally. In AnTuTu v4, the Z4 is only approximately 18% faster than its smaller brother. In return, the performance gain is a decent 24% in Geekbench 3. The browser speed is quite good; the device primarily benefits from the latest Chrome browser (version 34).
The 4 GB memory is quite tight. Only 2.2 GB is available for free usage. The speed is comparatively good, particularly when it comes to sequentially writing larger data blocks. It is only defeated by the Z3 in the 4K range.


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