Acer expands Android line-up

Acer has been around in the Android arena for quite some time with its Liquid series. Although you don't see it around much in terms of smartphones, Acer has a pretty decent offering, especially with the launch in Brunei last week.

The models range from a budget-friendly Z3S and Z5 to the higher-end Liquid S2.

The Liquid S2, one of the latest Android models, is the highest quality offer from Acer at $848. It has a full HD screen at 5.98 inches, making it a full-on phablet.

The processor is the blazing fast Snapdragon 800 processor, which comes with a 13-megapixel camera that gives you the ability to record Ultra-HD videos.

The S2 has a nice design, is a little bit tapered at the bottom and comes in black and red.

The red is the more striking of the two, and has a two-in-one headphone and microphone jack at the top of the handset.

As per new generation smartphones, the microSD card slots can accommodate a whopping 128GB of memory, making "lack of memory" a thing of the past. Unless, of course, you mainly use your smartphone to record Ultra High Definition movies.

In terms of software, however, the S2 is lacking behind a couple of generations at 4.2.2. A newer version would make the price tag a little bit more justifiable but Acer has mentioned the possibility of moving to Android 4.3 in a few reports.

With software, Acer stuck with its signature skin, known as "Float UI", which has floating widgets on top of your homescreen.

The best part about the S2's software is the packaged Polaris Office 5, a useful third party office tool.

In terms of connectivity, the S2 has it all: the fastest and broadest WiFi radio, wide coverage from its WiFi signal, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC are all available on board as well. Long Term Evolution/4G (LTE) is also available but only on three bands, which allows transfer up to 100mb/s, a lower capacity than the current standard.

The 13-megapixel camera is quite decent with an aperture of f/2.2, giving strong pictures with a fast autofocus and built-in image stabiliser.

The flash is a little different, with four LED bulbs composed in a ring. The camera is relatively strong, even in low light, but video-taking is sub-par. In fact, some of the test shots from the Liquid S2 performs better than the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 in bright light.

On the other hand, the weaker Liquid S1, at only $498, has a MediaTek SoC, with less RAM, storage and fewer on-board options. Its screen is only 5.7 inches, which can be a nice alternative for those who do not want to spend more than $500.

From the S2, we move on to the budget-friendly Liquid Z5.

At $238, the Z5 has a five-inch screen but with that price tag, it puts itself in direct competition with the Moto G, one of the absolute best budget phones around.

The Z5 has a plastic back but the phone's body is extremely slim at just 8.8mm.

Very much like the LG G2, the Z5 has a button down the back which can be used to wake the phone up from sleep or be set to launch your favourite application or camera.

And despite having a five-inch screen, the Z5 only has a 854x480 pixel resolution which is far below the standard 720p for budget phones. That makes screen images a bit saturated and colours less convincing.

In terms of software, the Z5 only has Android 4.2 and comes with a dual-core MTK chip. Its floating widgets are also present, like in the higher-end phones, and the processor is not particularly sluggish for a dual-core.

For basic browsing, WhatsApp and e-mails, there will be no problems on the Z5 with its large five-inch screen.

The standout feature of the Z5, however, is its camera. A 5-megapixel on the back, and an f/2.4 aperture is much better than most cameras in that segment. The specifications may be deceiving but it definitely takes much better pictures than the Moto G's five-megapixel shooter.