When you think of manufacturers breaking new ground, Sharp usually isn’t one that pops into mind. The company, better known for TVs, is only mildly active in the world of smartphones, and most are either low-end or are exclusive to Japan. But Sharp recently presented a new phone that changes perspective on the company.
The Sharp Aquos Crystal is Sharp’s latest entry into the smartphone market, and it represents an entry into the U.S. market that isn’t entirely aimed at the budget market. Most unique about the Sharp Aquos Crystal is its 5-inch display that stretches from edge-to-edge on three sides. But equally important is its status as an affordable phone with high style and powerful specs. Let’s take a look at how it stacks up in our full review.
The key point of the Sharp Aquos Crystal is its hardware, notably its 5-inch 720p display that’s edge-to-edge on three sides. Apart from that, you can find a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB storage plus a microSD card slot, 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, 2040mAh battery, WiFi, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Those things are all kept inside of a body that measures 131 x 67 x 10mm and weighs 141g.
For a $150 phone, we can’t fault the Sharp Aquos Crystal on having some great bang for your buck when it comes to hardware.
2. Design and Build Quality
The design of the Sharp Aquos Crystal is its greatest feature, being something that’s both distinctive and high-quality. The edge-to-edge display is a stunning piece of work that catches the eye of anyone that sees it. The beveled edges of the glass add a sense of class that’s rarely found in a phone of this price range. The back of the device is simple curve of plastic that fits comfortably in the hand and is dimpled for better grip. One caveat, however, the back very noticeably shows fingerprints.
The Sharp Aquos Crystal seems built sturdily enough without creaks or gaps. As for long-term durability, that’s a bit less sure, as the Sharp Aquos Crystal seems like it could have a shattered display with a good drop or two, particularly due to the raised glass covering the display.
As a whole, though, the design and build quality of the Sharp Aquos Crystal is good, and well above what we’d expect for a phone of its price.
While the design of the display on the Sharp Aquos Crystal is certainly great, the display itself is nothing more than good. It’s not bad, but it’s not particularly great either. The 720p resolution is fine for the 5-inch size, though pickier folks may be able to discern pixels. Colors, however, aren’t all too accurate and appear bland. Blacks are surprisingly deep for an LCD screen, though the bottom of the display has a slight problem with light bleed.
The display of the Sharp Aquos Crystal isn’t bad, but don’t expect to find the highest-quality display here.
The Sharp Aquos Crystal runs stock Android 4.4.2 KitKat, and it’s much to the benefit of the device. The software is fast, fluid, and easy to navigate. There’s not a whole lot to say about it, since it performs well and doesn’t have much for extra features. It should be noted, however, that if you buy the Sprint model, you will find some bloatware pre-installed on the device. Fortunately, most of it can be uninstalled without trouble.
Thumbs up to Sharp for using stock Android for the software of the Aquos Crystal.
In day to day tasks, the Sharp Aquos Crystal performs well. Swiping through the UI, checking Facebook, and replying to emails are all fairly lag-free. More intense tasks like gaming and and loading feature-rich apps can cause stutters and slowdowns on the device. This isn’t unexpected for a mid-range device like this, but we can’t give the Sharp Aquos Crystal top marks for performance because of it.
|Geekbench 3||343 (single-thread) 1138 (multi-thread)|
|3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited||4683|
Mid-range phones often have severe struggles in the camera department, and the Sharp Aquos Crystal is no exception. Crisp detail is lacking in most photos, even with good lighting. Speaking of lighting, the Sharp Aquos Crystal handles mixed lighting very poorly, even with HDR turned on, which generally just causes photos to be washed out and bland by software overexposure. Low-light performance is poor, with noisy, dark shots being the result of any attempt. Overall, this is not a great camera, but that’s about what we expected from a $150 phone.
The Sharp Aquos Crystal performs well in the battery department, getting you comfortably through to bedtime with 15-20 percent battery remaining. This is with moderate usage and a day from about 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Push it a bit harder and you might have to charge around dinnertime. All in all, though, the Aquos Crystal did well and had no problems with background apps or services eating up battery life, as is occasionally found with mid-range devices.
The Sharp Aquos Crystal is an interesting device that features a unique design and impressive hardware for its price of $150. The camera could use some work and the display isn’t the best out there, but these are minor knocks on an otherwise very good phone.
We can highly recommend the Sharp Aquos Crystal to anyone looking for a good mid-range phone or even a great back-up phone.