Acer Liquid Zest 4G Review - Optimized And Affordable Marshmallow Handset

It's a given that Acer's new Liquid Zest line was heavily hyped as something #TooZesty. So over the week, we used and tested, used and play around with this handset to gather all the data needed in this full review. Now let's all find out if the things we expected are correct and if this phone lives up to the Zesty definition of something lively and pleasing.
Acer Liquid Zest 4G review

Disclaimer: This review unit was provided by Acer Philippines for an honest review


Display Quality

Display quality
Display quality

This phone used a 5 inch HD IPS On Cell 1280 x 720 resolution w/ Zero Air Gap at 294 ppi type of scree. That means it's one of the most affordable phone in the world right now to use a good type of On-Cell screen. The result is we noticed that the colors were vivid, easy on the eyes and has fairly good colors.
5 points of multitouch

While it isn't as sharp as Full HD or QHD panels, it presents great viewing angles, decent visibility under direct sunlight and good amount of details already that makes pixels hard to see via your naked eye.

In addition to that, this phone also goes with its usual special anti blue light shield feature that protects our eyes from strains specially when using your phone in the dark.

Audio Quality

For a phone that touts a DTS HD Premium sound, we expected a lot the quality of its audio output in both speakers and headphones.

On the speaker part, the single speaker at the back performed decently loud. However, its quality isn't as good as we expected and not as good as their other phones of the past. Going to its quality, we observed that it has a bright tone, nice bass punch but with non existent sub-bass, narrow soundstage and not that clear tonality and mids.

Anyway, it still gets the job done on letting you hear calls from several meters away and produce listenable tunes.

Fortunately, Acer made up on its headphone audio out. While we don't know the exact DAC they used here, it's something that's listenable for me coming from an audiophile standard. We liked that it has a bright sound signature, fast and dynamic bass punch, hearable sub-bass with nice extension / decay and clear mids with no signs of muddiness.

The best part here is its highs and soundstage. It produced energetic type of treble with great details that has good extension and sparkling feel. Then its soundstage produced that hall like feel that's great for distinguishing instruments and has a semi 3D effect.

It also has good driving power that be used to pump the volume of even normal sized headphones with low impedance.

On the software side of DTS Premium Sound, you can adjust treble, bass, has several equalizer presets and even video EQ.

This phone also has two microphone setup. One below and one noise cancelling at the back. It performed fairly well that can record voices and surroundings nicely, but recordings are a little bit noisy and grainy.

Battery

Battery life test
Battery life test

For a phone that's only using 2,000 mAh of battery on a 5 inch HD screen. We were't expecting long performance here even if its processor doesn't have high clock speed. However, take note that this phone runs with the newer Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS that's known to have nice battery efficiency when properly tuned.

Fortunately, that's the case here with the Liquid Zest 4G. It was able to performed way beyond our expected as it logged a work day of normal usage starting from 9 am in the morning all the way to 8 pm in the evening while performing casual activities.

On our battery benchmark test, it recorded 7 hours and 41 mins of usage which is even better than the 3,500 mAh powered Lenovo K4 Note at 7 hours only. It also has a good battery saver tech that can further extend your battery life.

Charging time is roughly around 2 hours.

Overall, Acer did a good job in optimizing the battery of this phone to ensure that it has a day's worth of juice.

Camera

The camera of Zest 4G
The camera of Zest 4G
The Acer Liquid Zest 4G sports an 8 MP f/2.0 rear camera and a 5 MP 85 degrees wide angle selfie camera. While those numbers aren't really striking, Acer made sure that they placed real pixel size here with good type of quality.

From our assessment, the back camera of the phone did just fine. It produces, decent dynamic range, vibrant photos in a slightly warmer tones that needs no filter for your social media postings. It's a little bit saturated and not that resolved, but I can generally live with it. This phone also has good sharpness from afar, but expect with mild grains when you take zoom in your photos.

Macro photography, it can take pretty closer than what I thought first. The background blur is also pretty evident even if it doesn't really have high quality bokeh. At least there's good focus when needed that good be good for taking portraits and food shots.

The focus speed is pretty quick and the shutter speed only seems to be as fast. However, in reality, you may want to hold your phone steadily for at least 1 second to avoid taking blurry shots.

In the dark, we saw the good side of having an f/2.0 camera as it has nice and not so grainy output especially in HDR mode. While its still washed out, its fairly performed in its price. When needed there's always a bright tone flash that can save the day at times.

In front, the selfie camera appears to take reddish and overly saturated photos, but fortunately it has wide angle that lets more people in your frame and has good enough sharpness. However, there's no screen flash that makes it unusable in the dark.

What we're very much pleased to find out here is Acer's ever evolving and easy to use camera software. Aside from its basic filters, scene modes, iso setup,  and other settings, we're glad to see a nice type spot metering of metering that let's you tune the exposure the way you want it before taking a shot.

You'll also get a grid feature for your rule of thirds an a favorite shot button just below the shutter button that's programmable as a shortcut to HDR, Panorama and Beautification.

In terms of video quality, this phone enables you to take 720p videos using both the front and back cameras. There's no FHD 1080p options though compared with most modern phones.

Looking at its quality, it's usable, there's good focus even when move and it isn't as shaky as expected. On the other note, I like the taking selfie videos here more due to its wide angle lens.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight shot
Daylight shot
Indoor shot
Indoor shot
Close up shot
Close up shot
Normal vs HDR
Normal vs HDR
Normal night - grainy
Normal night - grainy
Night mode - HDR
Night mode - HDR
Flash test
Flash test

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie daylight test
Selfie daylight test
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie

Video Samples



Performance

Antutu and geekbench benchmark
Antutu and geekbench benchmark

Seeing smartphones with 1.3 GHz 64 Bit, MT6735 quad core processor, Mali T720 GPU, 2 GB RAM and 16 GB ROM is a norm nowadays. While there few are other devices with higher specs at this point, at least 90% of them doesn't run with Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS.

Like what we expected and our first impressions, the phone performed buttery smooth for its class. Hiccups is almost non-existent when switching from an app to another, browsing the net, opening social media apps and other light type of work.

We just noticed that, it only has 4 GB of usable storage from its 16 GB of storage. Maybe the bloats and system optimization has something to do with that. Fortunately, it's expandable using a micro SD card.
Acer GameZone
Acer GameZone

In gaming, our experience with its Mali T720 GPU on an HD screen only was quite good. However, frame drops and sluggishness will be noticed when running games on high settings. They're playable, but not the best.

There's also a software included here called the GameZone that optimizes the game for smoother experience, record your screen and be on DND mode to disable SMS notifications and calls.

When game mode is enabled, there's some effect that we felt that makes gaming a little smoother. Nothing super significant, but at least it helps in optimization a little. Good effort.
Acer Liquid UI
Acer Liquid UI

Looking at its software, most Acer icons are still intact and remained the same, but the UI looks a little different now. It's now using a more google now inspired type of UI that looks nice and snappy in general.

It's also feature packed where there's a quick touch feature that's used for several app shortcuts and unlocking the phone. However, while most bloats are uninstallable there are some Acer apps that's not needed by everyone that you won't be able to remove.

Signals are pretty strong too, LTE connection was stable as long as you have good signal reception, Bluetooth works fine and dual SIM works. It also has OTG support that enables you to transfer files and attach other OTG capable devices like external controllers.

Pros - Smooth Marshmallow experience, long battery life, doesn't heat up, fair cameras, nice headphone out
Cons - Distortion in its speaker ihearbale, no screen flash, some irremovable bloats, small usable space

Verdict

For this price range, the Acer did a nice job with the Liquid Zest 4G. We were greeted with a nice refined software with good performance to match to complete the experience. While the specs is just on more on the average side, let's remember that not everyone will give you that smooth Marshmallow experience.

GIZ Rating: 4/5 Stars
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