Sharp Aquos Crystal Hands On: No Bezel, All Beauty

Sharp Aquos Crystal Hands On: No Bezel, All Beauty

Japan and the United States build phones differently. In the U.S. we want better performance, more dazzling displays, and faster processors. Japan just makes the thing look awesome. And not many have done it better than Sharp.

Sharp’s Aquos Crystal is the most recent example of this design philosophy. But this time, this smartphone eye candy won’t stay landlocked to its home country; it’s coming to Sprint for $250 with no contract. While that price is unexpectedly low, it’s not supposed to be the real headturner. That would be the edge-to-edge, 5-inch 720p display. As we’ve previously mentioned, this smartphone is virtually bezel-less—virtually. There actually is a bit of a bezel around the rim, but it is stunning to look at as its screen stretches to the top of the device and seemingly into infinity.

The display is undoubtedly the coolest part of this phone. I mean, look at that thing. As for the rest of the device, the back of device uses a plastic, dimpled material that feels a little cheap but isn’t as aggressive as the Galaxy S5. The Aquos Crystal also sports a rounded back that’s pretty comfortable to hold, though the phone is a little thicker than other 5-inch smartphones. The rim of the phone is plastic as well, though it has a metal-like finish with your choice of a white or black back.

Traversing through the software, I purposefully tried to make accidental touches around the edges to see if the absence of bezel caused usability problems. It never happened once. The Aquos Crystal runs native Android 4.4.2 with a few install apps, including Clip Now, a fun but somewhat unnecessary app that lets you capture screenshots and the associated URL by swiping across the very top of the device. The app then opens into a gallery that lets you share those screenshots to various services.

All that said, this isn’t a premium handset, at least not by American consumer standards. This smartphone only packs a Snapdragon 400 processor, 1.5GB of RAM, and a measly 8GB of storage (though a MicroSD slot is available). The camera is just okay. Its 8 megapixel front-facing camera is a little too sharp due to a mediocre lens, or possibly the software, but is pretty good on exposure.

Sharp Aquos Crystal Hands On: No Bezel, All Beauty

Of course, these middle-of-the-road guts make a lot of sense when you consider its bargain basement pricing. It even still comes with Sprint’s particular suite of services including Spark LTE—Sprint’s tri-band LTE network—and Harmon Kardon audio processing. The smartphone runs with Android 4.4.2 and also comes with Apps Pass, which is a different billing approach for Sprint. For $5, this subscription gives you access to "premium" apps. At the demo, these included productivity and gaming apps such as Microsoft Office Suite 7, GT Racing 2, and AccuWeather Platinum. The Apps Pass team hopes to have 125-150 choices when the service launches on August 29th with 250-300 apps once the service is in full swing. Users also receive $5 every month as in-app credit, essentially nullifying the subscription price. It’ll be available for current Sprint users and will be pre-loaded on future devices.

Apart from its flashy new addition to its hardware lineup (though the carrier has yet to announce an on sale date), Sprint is also taking a bold stance on pricing. Yesterday, the carrier announced a new family plan that offers double the data than its competitors, giving 20GB of data for four lines for $160. However, pricing was never Sprint’s real problem, but coverage. This cheap phone and recent aggressive data plan pricing shows that Sprint is making some bold moves under its new CEO Marcelo Claure. We’ll just have to see if it’s enough to make up ground in an increasingly competitive space.

Sharp Aquos Crystal Hands On: No Bezel, All Beauty

Sharp Aquos Crystal Hands On: No Bezel, All Beauty

Sharp Aquos Crystal Hands On: No Bezel, All Beauty

Sharp Aquos Crystal Hands On: No Bezel, All Beauty

Sharp Aquos Crystal Hands On: No Bezel, All Beauty

Source: Gizmodo

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