We already got a chance to handle the Acer Liquid Z630S briefly at last year’s IFA in September, but we’re not ones to shy away from an opportunity to examine a phone at headquarters. So when one presented itself, we grabbed it. That said, we didn’t do our full battery of tests – instead, we’ll just share a few impressions gathered in a setting way calmer than a venue floor.
Acer Liquid Z630S at a glance:
Body: Polycarbonate all around, removable back,
Screen: 5.5″ IPS LCD, 720p resolution (267ppi)
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Chipset: Mediatek MT6753, octa-core Cortex-A53 at 1.3GHz, Mali-T720MP3, 3GB of RAM
Camera: 8MP with f/2.0 lens; 1080p video recording
Selfie camera: 8MP with f/2.4 lens; 1080p video recording
Storage: 32GB built-in, dedicated microSD slot
Connectivity: LTE, dual-SIM; Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, FM-Radio;
Battery: 4,000mAh, removable
Pretty run-of-the-mill specsheet there, though credit has to be given to Acer for the generous amount of RAM and large battery capacity. The display pixel density is a throwback to simpler times, and the primary camera’s resolution is also unimpressive.
You do get plenty of storage for the money, with an option for expansion, and that path isn’t obstructed by pesky hybrid slots – two for microSIMs and one dedicated for microSD. The sizeable battery capacity, plus the fact that it’s removable are a couple of Acer choices we can get behind too.
And since we did mention money, it’s worth pointing out that the Acer Liquid Z630S’ price varies widely depending on region. For example, in India the phone goes for a very affordable INR 9,999 ($150), while in Europe you’d need to shell out something like 230 ($260) – not really the best value for money.
Anyway, back to the Liquid itself. The first thing that comes to mind is that it’s big. Ample bezels all-around (but especially the chin) make it more than a handful, even when factoring in its 5.5-inch display. It’s marginally smaller than an iPhone 6s Plus, and that’s not a company you want to be in, when talking about screen to body ratio.
There’s a lip around the front glass to protect its edges, so those used to a 2.5D curve won’t be impressed, but it serves its purpose, and luxury is not to be expected in this price range. Around the back, you’re treated to a pseudo brushed metal finish, which looks the part.
Front of the handset
The cover is removable and it takes a fair amount of effort to pop off – while your nails might fall victim, the upside is that the cover won’t fall off on its own. Once you wrestle it off, you’d be given access to the access to the large 4,000mAh battery and all the card slots.
All in all, it’s a pretty generic design, with only the brushed rear adding a touch of class. What it doesn’t provide, though, is grip – the phone is very slippery.
Back with a brushed metal finish Removing the cover exposes the battery
The display of the Acer Liquid Z630S isn’t exactly a selling point – it is large, but it’s not very bright and its blacks are pretty highly lit up. Looking at it at an angle quickly leads to color shifts and loss of contrast, too. You get what you pay for in this case, and Acer only managed to fit size into the budget.
In the hand
The smartphone boots Android 5.1 , which isn’t very up to date, but at the time of launch last fall it was pretty current, and we all how budget models are rarely treated to major updates. A lot of the interface is Google’s stock Lollipop, but Acer has changed a few things here and there, and not necessarily for the better.
The Notification shade, for example, has the brightness slider buried in the second tier of quick settings, and that is accessed with a tap, instead of the universal second swipe. Folders are represented with a deck of icons, and you can only clearly see the top one, and barely distinguish the next two, and that’s it.
There’s also the matter of bloatware. There’s a whole suite of Acer’s own apps, a lot of which double Google’s own, and you don’t get to uninstall them. Then you have three browsers pre-installed, the generic AOSP one, Chrome and Puffin. And on top of that there’s a whole bunch of games on board the moment you boot up. Those can be uninstalled, and don’t get us wrong – we’re all for games, just we’d like pick our own.
Homescreen Notification shade Float app Acer apps App drawer
On a positive note, Acer has added a few Float apps (a lot like Sony’s Small apps), which can be operated in small pop-up window above everything else. These include a calendar, a calculator, the camera, and a browser, among others, and can be genuinely useful.
The Liquid Z630S has a pair of 8MP cameras, one on the back and one for selfies. Unfortunately, the rear one on our review unit appears to be defective, because samples turned out really blurry. And it’s the right half of the frame where we observe the blurriness, while the left is properly focused, so it’s probably a misaligned lens element or something.
The front-facer seems to be alright, though, and it does a decent job of shooting selfies.
Good build quality, large screen, ample removable battery, dual-SIM support – the phone has its selling points. We weren’t thrilled with the software side of things, and we can’t really comment on what appears to be a faulty camera.
From the time we spent with the Acer Liquid Z630S we can see how someone on the lookout for an affordable phablet can find reasons to like it, especially if you’re in the regions where it’s priced to present good value for money.