Japan and the west build phones differently. In the west 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 making its way over the Pacific to the US, being sold on network carrier Sprint.
There's no word yet as to whether this pretty, barely bezelled phone will come to the UK and Europe, but it is a beautiful piece of work none the less, and would be welcome on our shores – here's hoping Sharp shares the same sentiment.
It is the edge-to-edge, 5-inch 720p display that is the headturner here. 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 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 western consumer standards. This smartphone only packs a Snapdragon 400 processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, and a measly 8 GB of storage (though a MicroSD slot is available). The camera is passable. 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.
Whether or not the phone succeeds in the States may guide the phone's possible migration to Europe and the UK. You can tell we are in love with the look of thing, even if its insides leave a little to be desired. What say you? Does this well-designed lump of glass leave you wanting more? Or does its lacklustre guts turn you off?