If you’re following me on Twitter or Instagram, you probably caught some of my photos from my time in Edinburgh a couple of weekends ago. Acer was kind enough to invite me for a weekend live blogging trip from London to Edinburgh where we had to complete some interesting challenges and use the opportunity to play with some of their tech.
Their Liquid Jade smartphone and Liquid Leap smartband were two of the devices I got to spend most time with, so here are my first impressions of both.
Acer Liquid Jade Smartphone
Rear of the Acer Liquid Jade smartphone.
Acer’s Liquid Jade was probably the device I was most impressed with during my time in Edinburgh. You can check out the full spec sheet here, but it’s essentially a £229, 5-inch smartphone running Android 4.4 KitKat, with a 13-megapixel rear camera, a very nice 720p HD display and 8GB of internal storage.
Pretty standard stuff on paper, but the Liquid Jade’s standout feature is its design; at just 7.5mm it’s insanely thin — pretty much all the bloggers were taken aback by its feel in the hand — and at 110 grams it’s very, very light. When it comes to form factor, it’s certainly one of the nicest phones I’ve held and used.
For the £229 price tag (available for less online) you’ll also get AcerNav, a GPS navigation app powered by TomTom. Bear in mind that TomTom’s apps are generally priced at around £40 and above, so it’s a very nice perk!
While the Acer Liquid Jade’s form factor was seriously impressive, its 13-megapixel camera didn’t possess that same “wow” factor. It performed reasonably well in well-lit conditions, but I always found colours to look washed out, it often took too long to focus (or wouldn’t at all) — and in low-light conditions, images end up looking grainy.
Edinburgh Castle: Photo taken during the day with Acer Liquid Jade smartphone.
Dinner with the UK bloggers: Photo taken indoors with Acer Liquid Jade smartphone.
All in all, the Liquid Jade’s camera is OK, but I’d struggle to recommend it to someone who takes photography seriously. From my experience with it I can safely say that if your smartphone’s camera isn’t super important to you, the Liquid Jade ticks a lot of other boxes that make it a worthwhile purchase.
Acer Liquid Leap Smartband
Acer Liquid Leap Smartband.
In case you haven’t noticed, wearables — smartwatches in particular — are the new “thing” in the tech world. The £79 Liquid Leap is Acer’s attempt at the wearable market and it’s essentially a waterproof, touchscreen smartband that connects to your Android or even iOS device to push notifications straight to your wrist.
The Liquid Jade has a simplistic look and feel to it, and because of its light weight it was actually nice to have it on my wrist the whole weekend — I don’t recall ever feeling bothered by having it on. The simple black & white 2.4cm display is able to show you notifications as they come through on your phone, alert you to phone calls, show you how many steps you’ve taken and even control the music playing on your phone (although I didn’t test this myself).
To actually use the Liquid Leap you need to double tap on its display, except this process quickly became frustrating. At times, no matter how hard I tapped on the display it just wouldn’t wake; yet other times it would wake at the lightest of touches. It was very inconsistent. I’m sure it’s something they can easily fix with a software update, but it’s just a shame that it was the main caveat from an otherwise nice experience with the device.
Overall then, the Liquid Leap smartband is a nice little accessory for the health-conscious user who wants to track their activities, or someone who wants an entry-level device for the wearable market.