Acer Liquid Z520 is one of the company's most affordable handsets that was announced last March 2015 at the Mobile World Congress. It is also one of the cheapest quad core handsets in the country from a known international brand. Fast forward May 2015, the handset finally arrives in the Philippines at a very low price tag of PHP 4,990!

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Meet Acer Liquid Z520
Last Friday, Acer messaged us to do a quick review of the said handset. I got it immediately and brought it with be in our weekend trip to share with you now my experience with it. Okay, let's start!

Unboxing

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
The Liquid Z520 comes in a small and simple packaging
Inside the box

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
The accessories included
The Z250 comes in a standard smartphone package, you get a charger, usb cord, earbuds with mic and some Acer paper documentation. While I would just loved it better if Acer have included a screen protector to prevent scratches here, I cannot complain for the price.

Build Quality / Design

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Back of the smartphone
The Z520 is a well made product, it looks good and feels durable. Definitely one of the better designed smartphones that you can get under 5000 pesos. The materials used in this like the plastic body doesn't feel cheap and I'm sure that this is a budget handset that's built to last. I also liked the textured back design as it's not that prone to scratches. Compared to the bit more powerful and pricier Liquid X1 this model doesn't have that Acer rapid button which is very much understandable.

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Side of the phone, you can see that it has that texture to give you a better grip
Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Top view of the phone featuring the 3.5 mm jack and microUSB port
Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
buttons at the side (power and volume rocker)
The phone is also neither too thick or too thin at 9.3mm, not heavy and just feels right for me. It's great to hold and I have a good grip on it due to the textured back and frame.

Display

Side by side with SKK Lynx
To my surprise, even with just the use of 854 x 480 resolution at 187 ppi, the Acer Liquid Z520 can still keep up with some HD phones. It has decent viewing angles, good enough brightness and nice colors. However, it still has some minor weaknesses as sometimes images looks a bit washed up and has less details. Overall, with that 5 inches display this is good enough to watch movies on the go, see you social media images quite well and viewing your photos.

Update: It also has that reading mode that eliminates blue light to avoid your eyes from straining. This worked well for me when reading news articles using the phone before going to sleep.

Audio

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
DTS studio sound
I am quite surprised from what I heard with this unit! The speaker is quite loud and doesn't distort even at 100 % volume. Acer did a good job on regulating the speaker volume of this one for it to sound great, crisp and detailed. Compared to other handsets like the Rio 2 the Z520 was has less loudness, but it has more details in it and better quality.

When it comes to the headphone out, this very affordable smartphone surprised me a lot! It's quite rare to hear a smartphone this cheap that has that warm and smooth sound signature with a bit wide soundstage. It's not quite as detailed and soulful against some expensive HiFi enabled smartphones, but this one is surely on a satisfactory level considering how cheap is this.

By default the DTS studio sound is a bit bass boosted at 3 dB which a lot of people will like, but personally I liked it better when you tone down the boost as the it sounds more natural and has better clarity on that setting.

The microphone part was also clear enough for calls and some video with audio recording. (See sample video below)

Update: The Z520 has CTIA compatibility

Battery

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Battery test
The battery of this handset performed quite good! It was actually better than I expected for a device with just 2,000 mAh. It's a lot better than the battery performance of the similarly rated Redmi 1S and A919i of the old. I was able to use it for 2 days in our Cagbalete Quezon trip for taking photos and videos with some social media task. When it comes to HEAVY usage (WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, Max brightness and GPS ) on while playing some games, social media, watching videos and listening to music all the time. I was able to squeeze out a bit more than 4 hours of straight usage. Overall, to my personal experience, Acer did a great job on optimizing the power consumption of this phone. On a single full charge, this can definitely help you survive the day on casual use.

Camera

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
The slightly protruding rear camera w/ flash at the back
The Acer Liquid Z520 features and f/2.0 unknown 8 MP camera and 2 MP front camera that performed decently in our test.

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Some camera features
The Acer Liquid Z520 is one kind of a phone due to this feature, the voice activation. You can use it by turning the microphone button on the camera interface on and with that you can just tell your phone what type of camera setting you'd like to use. For example, just say HDR and it will turn to HDR and just say Panorama and your setting will turn to Panorama mode.

The Z520 also has that low light mode where-in your photos will look better even if there's minimal light available. It also has tons of other camera features where in you can choose you capture mode, scene mode (ala digital camera) and filter effects. The Z520 is probably the cheapest smartphone you can get in the market with all these camera features.

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
HDR Shot
Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Regular shot
Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
HDR shot in the dark
Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Regular shot in the dark
Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Regular shot in the dark w/ flash
Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Selfie shot
Sample video

The camera quality of this phone also performed on a satisfactory level. The color details were really fine especially if you're in a good lighting condition, the focus is good, the images were also sharp, vivid and has that good balance to ensure decent photos. It's front camera is also quite good even at just 2 MP, however as expected it both cam wasn't able to perform that well in low light conditions. Anyway, I liked the speed of the shutter on both the rear and front camera as it's one of the fastest I've seen in the sub PHP 5k range.

Update: If the low light mode is turned on, the shots becomes more visible even if there's added grains.

Performance

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Lollipop ready capacitive keys
When it comes to the performance of the phone, the Z520 performed decently. Even if it's still not as powerful as some budget octa core phones, this one still appears to be a very capable one that's good for everyday use and multitasking. I can hardly feel any lag except when you have bad internet connection, there's a lot of apps open and playing heavy games on max settings. I also liked the way Acer future proofed the backlight keys in preparation for a Lollipop update.

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Interface of Z520
The interface used by Acer here was smooth and easy to understand. I also liked some of the Acer apps included in this like the Acer Snapnote, System Doctor, Easy Hotspot and that system feature that kills all the apps in just a single click to keep your phone fresh. 3G connectivity is also present and I'm getting good results as long as there's signal. It also has 3 modes where-in you can choose standard, basic and easy mode for everyone.

Benchmarks

Acer Liquid Z520 Unboxing And Review! A New Budget Quad Core Phone With Voice Activated Camera!
Some benchmarks
Antutu-wise, the score was quite high for the setup they used with this phone that could be due to the lower resolution they used. That can result to a more responsive and speedier feel when opening and closing apps and playing games. Lastly, I would have liked this better if Acer used at least a 5 point multi touch screen.

Update: Android Lollipop for this phone is coming soon! :)

Pro's - Decent phone performance (fast and responsive), good battery life, good speaker quality, fast camera shutter speed, durable looking build quality, comfortable to hold and has great grip, reading mode

Con's - backlight keys don't have light, a bit thick, 2 point multi touch only

Specifications

  • Display: 5 inch display, 854 x 480 resolution (187 ppi)
  • Processor: 1.3 GHz MediaTek Cortex A7 quad core
  • GPU: Mali 400 MP2
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • ROM: 8 GB expandable via microSD card up to 32 GB
  • Rear Camera: 8 MP AF w/ LED flash
  • Front Camera: 2 MP
  • Battery: 2000 mAh
  • OS: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, A2DP
  • Others: DTS sound technology, Camera Voice Commands
  • Colors: Black and White
  • Dimensions: 144 x 70 x 9.30 mm
  • Weight: 118 g
  • Price: PHP 4,990

Verdict

The Z520 is good buy from a well known international brand as sit packs a big enough screen, ample expandable storage, decent camera, good build quality, quite long battery life and tons of useful features. It also feels good to hold, doesn't look cheap. It's still a good phone overall even it it's facing some tough competition in the local budget scene.


Links: Acer Philippines FB Page
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