Acer's new Liquid Z5 smartphone is more expensive than it should be (hands-on)

Acer didn't just bring a couple of new tablets to Vegas this year, but something to make calls with, too. The latest addition to its Liquid range after the top-spec S2, the Z5 is very much a "value" proposition, as the raw numbers show. We're looking at a 5-inch, 854 x 480 display, 1.3GHz dual-core Mediatek processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD), and a 2,000mAh non-removable battery. For cameras, the Z5 has a modest VGA shooter up front, and a 5-megapixel main affair with a 5-lens array and IR sensor that Acer promises will improve focus and low-light performance, respectively.

The Liquid Z5 isn't revolutionary in design, but at 8.8mm thick with a plastic unibody, it's not horribly unattractive. Debuting on the Z5, however, is Acer's new "Rapid" button, which the firm expects to bring to other devices in the future. It sits conveniently under the camera on the back of the device (just where your forefinger would rest), undoubtedly taking inspiration from LG's G2 array of rear buttons. Pressing it once unlocks the device, and second prod will send you straight into whatever app or menu you assign it to. A long press boots the camera app. To further differentiate itself from phones of similar specs or price point, Acer has added a couple of software features to the Z5's Android 4.2 build. These include the company's answer to multitasking, called "float apps," and various custom skins, including one that simplifies the whole Android experience for newcomers or dumbphone nostalgics. As is the fashion these days, there are white and grey peek covers to match the handset's two color options, should you want to accessorize.

Its sub-par internals certainly show, as even unlocking the phone generated a little lag. We wouldn't consider this a massive issue if the Z5 was priced accordingly, but it'll retail for around 170 euros ($230) when it launches later this month. It's not destined for North America, mind, and will initially land in select European markets before heading to Asia, the Middle East and Africa in due course. It's hard to come away feeling positive about this device. When Motorola's offering the much more capable Moto G at a similar price point -- and we expect direct competition in this ultra-affordable space soon -- the Liquid Z5 already feels dead in the water.

Alexis Santos contributed to this report.