Acer Liquid Jade Primo Puts Windows 10 on Big Screen

LAS VEGAS — Can a phone replace your PC? The short answer is no, but Acer's new Liquid Jade Primo comes pretty close. Available by the end of Q1, Acer will offer a bundle ($649 or lower) that includes both the 5.5-inch Windows 10 handset and a dock that lets you run all your Universal apps and enjoy Cortana's wit on a bigger monitor.

Here at CES 2016, my colleauge Sam Rutherford and I went hands on with a pre-production version of the phone. The performance was a little flaky, but when you consider that Nokia charges $649 for its Lumia 950 XL alone, the Acer looks like it should win on value.

With its light plastic frame and rounded edges, the phone itself is fairly attractive but doesn't feel premium. However, I do like the 1080p OLED screen, which offers rich colors and wide viewing angles, particularly when checking out the deep saturated blues of the Windows 10 Mobile home screen. Displays like this make it harder and harder to go back to standard LCDs, no matter how bright they are.

The plastic backplate has the same crisscross pattern seen on other Jade phones from Acer, except this time is been polished for a smooth, more premium feel; it's enhanced by a subtle curve that makes the 0.33-inch thick phone feel even thinner.

The device is powered by a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 CPU and features a 21-megapixel back camera and 8-MP front camera. Other specs include 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. While the Jade Primo’s plastic back isn’t removable like on the Lumia 950 XL, you can still expand storage using the microSD tray found on the right side of the phone.

The most exciting feature, though, is Continuum, which enables you to run Windows 10 on a large display using the included docking station. The dock sports three USB ports and an HDMI port. The pre-production sample we tried was a little wonky, as it didn't recognize a mouse we plugged in. The display was also a bit slow to recognize the HDMI connection, but those issues should be ironed out by the time the Liquid Jade Primo goes on sale.

You can also use the phone's 5.5-inch display to move the cursor around — if you're so inclined.

Keep in mind that Windows 10 via Continuum is not the full Windows experience. For instance, you can't snap windows side by side, and you can't run desktop apps, only so-called Universal apps downloaded from the Windows app store.

Even with these limitations, the Liquid Jade Primo represents a fairly compelling entry for Acer in the U.S. smartphone market. We look forward to bringing you a full review when its fully baked.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.