BARCELONA: Acer unveiled its first Android 5.0 Lollipop smartphone at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC).
The Acer Liquid Z220 is unlikely to get too many people excited as it's the company's cheapest Android phone unveiled at the show. The firm also unveiled the 5in Liquid Z520 and Jade Z smartphones but, oddly, decided against loading them with Android 5.0.
The Liquid Z220 isn't going to win any awards when it comes to design, but it’s by no means a bad looking smartphone.
The rear is coated in a textured material, which makes the handset comfortable to hold, and it's a nice and compact unit despite the oversized bezel surrounding the screen.
However, the white version of the smartphone (it will also be available in black) was prone to picking up fingerprints even in the short time that we handled it.
The Liquid Z220 has a 4in 480x800 display with a 233ppi resolution. This was disappointing even for a phone with a €79 price tag, especially given the Honor Holly’s 5in 720x1280 screen and similar £79 price.
It’s perhaps just as disappointing in the flesh as it is on paper, as the screen quality is poor. App icons look fuzzy around the edges and brightness levels are low.
Software and performance
The Liquid Z220 is Acer's first smartphone to ship with Google’s Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system, trumping the Honor Holly.
This equips the smartphone with all of the latest Android features, such as Google’s card-based multitasking menu and revamped Notifications.
Acer has also left the UI largely untouched, which means that the Z220 comes with Google’s Material Design language. This is all very well, but it's difficult to appreciate on the low-quality display.
However, Acer has stuffed the smartphone full of applications that nobody asked for. Head into the apps menu and you’ll find Acer Portal, '50+ free games', Puzzle Pets and Real Football, among several others.
Most of these are likely to go untouched, and take up space on the handset, which has just 8GB of built-in storage. Thankfully, there is a microSD slot to extend the amount.
The Liquid Z220 uses a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, which is a little disappointing considering the Holly’s 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek offering.
We didn’t experience too many problems in terms of performance, although apps are noticeably slower to open than on many similarly priced phones, and there was some lag when swiping through screens.
The Liquid Z220 has a 5MP camera on the rear with an 89-degree wide angle lens, which we found easy to use thanks to the smartphone's compact size.
However, the camera struggled when it comes to image quality, in particular in the dark lighting at Acer's MWC event.
The camera had difficulty focusing, and pictures lacked detail and colour. We were unable to test the camera in natural light, but will do so in our full review.
Acer clearly has some lessons to learn when it comes to competing in the low-end smartphone market.
The Liquid Z220 is cheap at €79, but Huawei's Honor spin-off and Motorola are producing much higher-spec handsets at a similar price.
The Liquid Z220's screen, for example, feels like it belongs on a phone released in 2012, paling in comparison with the Honor Holly's 5in HD offering.
What's more, Acer's software additions will put some buyers off, especially when handsets such as the Motorola Moto G offer a largely untouched version of Android.
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