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Acer Debuts Liquid E3 and Z4 Mid-range Smartphones

Samsung is expected to steal the show at this year's Mobile World Congress 2014, with the debut of its new Galaxy S5 smartphone. So smaller handset makers are hoping to get out in front of the tech giant by announcing their phones before the big show even starts. Case in point, Acer has just launched two new smartphones in its Liquid family of devices, the E3 and Z4.

Of the two, the Liquid E3 is the standout handset. Weighing 4.7 ounces, the 4.7-inch E3 is a hair heavier than Motorola's similarly sized Moto X. The Liquid E3's specs, however, don't compare quite as nicely. Up front, you get a 1280 x 720 resolution display powered by a 1.2-GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, 1GB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage. Around back you'll find a 13-megapixel shooter paired with a 2-MP camera up front.

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Acer is pushing the Liquid E3's cameras as the phone's big feature. According to the company, the rear camera features an ultra-fast focus that will help users capture images in the blink of an eye. A front-mounted flash should also help improve your selfies.

Running Android 4.2.2, though it'll be updated to KitKat soon, the phone comes with Acer's slick AcerFloat UI. Similar to LG's QSlide apps, the AcerFloat UI lets users open multiple apps at once on top of each other, offering an overall greater multitasking experience. Get a phone call while watching a video, for example, and a Float Caller notification will pop up over the movie, letting you choose to answer or ignore the call.

Developed for budget-friendly smartphone users, the Liquid Z4 gets a 4-inch, 800 x 480 display, as well as a 1.3-GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of internal storage and modest 5-megapixel rear shooter. Beyond its specs, the Liquid Z4 includes Android 4.2.2, as well as a four different Quick Modes that lets users set targeted profiles for different users.

The Basic mode lets kids call and text only specific contacts, while Easy mode gives you access to the messages, radio, weather, magnify, clock and quick call functions. Classic mode opens up all of the phone's main functions and Keypad mode gives quick access to the Z4's keypad for initiating voice calls.

Both the Liquid E3 and Z4 go on sale this April for $273 and $136, respectively. Unfortunately, neither handset is scheduled to land on U.S. shores. Stay tuned for our full hands-on with both Acer's and a host of other smartphones live from Mobile World Congress 2014 early next week.