Microsoft isn’t the only one making Windows smartphones.
If none of the iPhones or Android devices take your fancy, your choice of smartphone becomes drastically limited. Limited choice is still some choice, though, and Microsoft’s efforts at offering diversity have today been given a boost by Acer. The Taiwanese device maker is showing off its Liquid Jade Primo Windows 10 handset at CES, ahead of a February launch in Europe at a price of 569 euros.
CES is traditionally not a smartphone show. The big hitters of the mobile market tend to keep their new products reserved for Mobile World Congress a month later, but that also opens up room for more niche devices to gain exposure. That’s what LG relied on when it launched its G Flex 2 at CES last year, and it’s the impetus for Acer’s Liquid Jade Primo announcement today. Outside of Japan and Microsoft’s own device labs churning out Lumias, there’s a definite scarcity of new handsets embracing Windows 10. That makes the Liquid Jade Primo exceptional, though it’s mostly built on familiar components.
The exterior design of this handset is very much in keeping with Acer’s Liquid Jade Android range, including the prominent loudspeaker on the rear, which offers a bit of symmetry against the round (and slightly protruding) camera compartment. The brushed metal look is just that — a look — and the material used is a thin, lightweight plastic. It’s not terrible, though, and the curved back is indeed comfortable to hold, if unremarkable in appearance. In that respect, the Primo is the converse of Sony’s Xperia line, which is gorgeous to the eye but rather less friendly to the palm.
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The Liquid Jade Primo is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor and comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Its 5.5-inch OLED display has a 1080p resolution and the Gorilla Glass covering it has a very gentle slope at the edges, which Acer and others describe as a 2.5D screen. I’ve always been a fan of that subtle curvature, as it does a lot to add cohesion between a curved device’s back and its otherwise flat front. This is still the case with Acer’s Primo, though I feel less encouraged by the phone’s light weight, which makes it feel somewhat insubstantial.
Acer has chosen to follow Microsoft’s lead with switching to USB-C as the main power and data connector on its phone, and just like the Lumia 950 duo, the new Primo works with Microsoft’s Continuum to convert any nearby compatible monitor into a sort of desktop PC. Acer is also launching a new H7 monitor series here at CES, which offers a USB-C input and a pair of regular USB ports to essentially turn it into a desktop hub you can plug your phone into.
Priced at 569 euros, the Liquid Jade Primo is clearly Acer’s effort at producing a flagship-tier Windows 10 device. It splits the difference between Microsoft’s 5.2-inch Lumia 950 and 5.7-inch 950 XL, and matches most of their software capabilities while also offering a high-resolution (21MP) camera of its own. What it lacks relative to those devices, though, is the integrated wireless charging that Microsoft is rightly proud of including. After its European launch in February, Acer’s Liquid Jade Primo is expected to arrive in other regions and could also, Acer tells me, make its way to the United States in the second quarter of the year.