Notebookcheck

Sharp Aquos Crystal Smartphone Review

A sharp edge. The term "edge-to-edge" has now become a common marketing ploy to advertise most any portable with a display, but Sharp have taken the term one step further. We find out why the Aquos Crystal is the 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree with a closer look at its striking and alluring design.

Sharp has been a household name in the U.S. since the early days of CRTs and it continues to be one of the largest manufacturers of LCD panels. Unlike competing corporations like Samsung and LG, however, Sharp is almost unknown for its smartphones in North America as the Japanese giant had never officially released a smartphone in the region - until now.

The Aquos Crystal is the first smartphone from Sharp to launch in the U.S., but this isn't the reason why it's making headlines. The nearly edge-less design is one of the most eye-catching features on a smartphone in recent years and its visual appeal is so atypical that the device was recently nominated as the 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree. The Crystal delivers an experience that is entirely unique to its design, and it retails for just $150 off-contract.

Internally and on paper, the 5-inch phone features basic hardware that is common amongst inexpensive and mainstream phones. This includes a 720p display, 1.5 GB RAM, and an entry-level Snapdragon 400 SoC. However, it also houses a few unique features including a vibrating display to produce sounds instead of a dedicated earpiece. A larger 5.5-inch model, called the Aquos Crystal X, is also available in its home country, though no U.S. launch date has been set. We take our Aquos Crystal for a full spin in this review to check out both its performance and novel hardware.

Case

The chassis itself is a spectacle. The Crystal's bezel-free design allows for a very high percentage of the front surface to be screen space and the sharp corners and edges around the device reflect its namesake well. The front glass is truly edge-to-edge with no plastic or metal material encompassing the perimeter and, when viewing from the sides of the Crystal, there is no other smartphone quite like it as the entire thickness of the front glass can be seen.

Nonetheless, this Sharp smartphone is still a budget device and it certainly feels more down-to-Earth than what its design would otherwise suggest. Aside from the glass front, the rest of the Crystal is plastic all-around from its chrome and silver edges to its removable flexible cover. This textured matte cover feels cheap and ordinary, especially compared to the distinct glossy front. As expected, the case is not Mil-Spec rated for dust or water resistance.

The Crystal holds up very well against twisting and bending, likely due to the overall thick edges and corners and display. Attempting to lightly bend the device results in no damage and no creaking. Unintentional gaps or crevices are also nonexistent on our test model.

As for size, this is likely one of the smallest 5-inch smartphones in the market because of its minimalistic frame. A quick comparison to other recent 5-inch devices like the Lumia 830, Google Nexus 5, and HTC One M8 shows that the Crystal is more than just a few square millimeters smaller in length and width. Its thickness, however, is much more standard at 10 mm, which is just 1 mm shy from the thicker Moto G2.

Camera and ambient light sensor are on the bottom of the device
Camera and ambient light sensor are on the bottom of the device
The removable back cover comes in white or dark gray options
The removable back cover comes in white or dark gray options
From top to bottom: Aquos Crystal, iPhone 6, LG G2. Notice that the glass cover reaches literally from edge-to-edge
From top to bottom: Aquos Crystal, iPhone 6, LG G2. Notice that the glass cover reaches from edge-to-edge with no bezel
146.36 mm / 5.76 inch 70.6 mm / 2.78 inch 9.35 mm / 0.3681 inch 160 g0.3527 lbs146.5 mm / 5.77 inch 72 mm / 2.83 inch 7.3 mm / 0.2874 inch 152 g0.3351 lbs141.5 mm / 5.57 inch 70.7 mm / 2.78 inch 11 mm / 0.4331 inch 150 g0.3307 lbs139.4 mm / 5.49 inch 70.7 mm / 2.78 inch 8.5 mm / 0.3346 inch 150 g0.3307 lbs137.84 mm / 5.43 inch 69.17 mm / 2.72 inch 8.59 mm / 0.3382 inch 130 g0.2866 lbs131 mm / 5.16 inch 67 mm / 2.64 inch 10 mm / 0.3937 inch 141 g0.3109 lbs

Connectivity

Aside from the standard micro-USB and 3.5 mm audio ports, the Crystal supports microSD cards on the rear of the unit. USB OTG is also supported as our generic keyboards and mice are able to connect successfully. Our connected external monitor, however, cannot be recognized since there is no support for MHL. Instead, Miracast is available in its place for compatible monitors.

Bottom: Micro-USB 2.0, microphone
Bottom: Micro-USB 2.0, microphone
Left: Volume rocker
Left: Volume rocker
Top: 3.5 mm audio, Power button
Top: 3.5 mm audio, Power button
Right: No connectivity
Right: No connectivity

Communication

WLAN includes integrated Bluetooth 4.0 and is compatible with 802.11b/g/n networks. Range is unfortunately lower than expected as the Crystal will drop its connection to a home wireless-n around 5 meters before our LG G2. Still, the range is satisfactory for typical indoor usage and environments and we experienced no unexpected drops or connectivity problems when connected to wireless networks.

The GPS locates and locks on to available satellites very quickly as the radio receives assistance from the carrier network. We faced no issues maintaining an accurate fix for driving purposes.

1 m from source (Aquos Crystal)
1 m from source (Aquos Crystal)
30 m from source (Aquos Crystal)
30 m from source (Aquos Crystal)
1 m from source (LG G2)
1 m from source (LG G2)
30 m from source (LG G2)
30 m from source (LG G2)
GPS Test (Aquos Crystal)
GPS Test (Aquos Crystal)
GPS Test (LG G2)
GPS Test (LG G2)

Telephone & Speech Quality

Nano SIM cards are compatible with the smartphone
Nano SIM cards are compatible with the smartphone

Unlike most unlocked smartphones out of Asia, the Aquos Crystal is compatible with CDMA 800/1900 MHz bands in addition to 2500 MHz for LTE. It is not officially compatible with GSM networks since the device is marketed towards Sprint and Boost Mobile customers in the U.S.. It does, however, support Wi-Fi calling, so calls can still be made without a SIM card or reliable carrier connection so long as the device is connected to a WLAN network or 3G service.

The earpiece is not a traditional speaker and is instead Sharp's "Direct Wave Receiver". Rather than using dedicated diaphragms to produce sound, the entire display vibrates in its place. Consequently, the user can place his or her ear anywhere on the display to listen without penalty to volume.

Does sound quality suffer? Unfortunately yes, and in two key areas. For one, callers from the other end have a slight static when speaking. It's minimal to be fair, but noticeable nonetheless. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, maximum volume is a little low. This is not a huge problem indoors, but the maximum setting is recommended when having a conversation outdoors. It does not take much ambient noise to overpower the "earpiece" of the Crystal.

Cameras & Multimedia

The included camera app features many options from the usual HDR and ISO settings (50 up to 1600) to anti-flicker (50 and 60 Hz) and anti-shake for videos. There are also overlays based on the rule of thirds and the golden ratio to aid in different types of photos from food to portrait shots.

Camera quality from the rear 8 MP camera is average at best under good lighting conditions. Typical indoor shots are rather poor and blurry, so snapshots are best done in a bright outdoor setting. The system autofocus has a tougher time working correctly when indoors as well. Exposure is slightly on the heavy side and pictures are muddier than expected from an 8 MP camera. Otherwise, we noticed no major issues with colors and only small amounts of purple fringing around hard edges like leaves.

Videos up to 1080p30 can be taken with the rear camera and are saved as 3GP files. Quality is smooth when panning or following moving objects slowly, but there is a large amount of noise that makes videos appear much less sharply than they should. Moderate to fast movement will cause unacceptable motion blur.

Playback of video files is smooth up to 1080p. The tested Big Buck Bunny files (MP4, MPEG4, H.264) are supported natively on the platform. Similarly, HD videos on YouTube play without any frame skips or stutters.

8 MP rear camera (Aquos Crystal)
8 MP rear camera (Aquos Crystal)
16 MP rear camera (LG G2)
16 MP rear camera (LG G2)
Canon EOS Rebel XSi reference
Canon EOS Rebel XSi reference

Warranty

The standard one-year warranty is available from various markets as Sharp does not sell the model directly to customers.

Input Devices

Touchscreen

The 5-finger capacitive touchscreen allows for quick, accurate, and responsive inputs as expected from any smartphone. The onscreen keyboard and the device in general will remain responsive with little latency even under moderate multitasking, which is something that can't be said for many other budget smartphones. Swype is included with the default keyboard alongside the usual predictive typing, spell checker, and other common features.

Note that unlike the standard Windows Phone 8.1 landscape keyboard where the sides are left empty, the standard Android keyboard stretches all the way to the edges. This does allow for bigger keys, but users with larger hands may find it more difficult to tap edge and corners keys like Q, P, or Delete reliably. This problem is more prevalent on the Aquos Crystal than on other Android devices because of the edge-less frame. Some keys can be so close to the palm as to make typing more uncomfortable than it should be despite the large 5-inch display. Coincidentally, accidental inputs around the edges are more likely. Users with smaller hands can adapt quickly, though users with larger hands may find typing on more "typical" 5-inch phones to be preferable.

Standard Android keyboard
Standard Android keyboard
Corners and edge keys are a bit more difficult to touch accurately
Corners and edge keys are a bit more difficult to touch accurately

Display

The near-borderless display is the star of the Aquos Crystal. Its paper specifications are somewhat insipid and not all that different from competing budget 5-inch smartphones, but the one-of-a-kind display makes the Crystal so much more fun to use in comparison. Onscreen videos pop in a way that other smartphones can only dream of. Text and colors are bright and sharp as well, though admittedly not as sharp as phones with FullHD screens. A 1080p model would have likely had a large impact on performance and price due to the entry-level SoC in the device.

Display brightness averages a little over 400 nits across nine quadrants of the screen. This is brighter than the recently released Moto G2 and is on par with the Lumia 830, LG L Bello, and even the more expensive LG G3. Sony's crown jewel - the Xperia Z3 - still takes the cake with a brightness of nearly 700 nits and a contrast that is twice as deep, but the Sharp is still more than satisfactory for pictures and video playback with no significantly crushed blacks or muddy grays.

Note that because of the thick glass front and lack of an opaque bezel, light will refract from the sharply angled edges and corners of the display. This has a neat visual effect around the edges of the screen (see right image) that is not present on any other phone, but it is understandable that some users may find this to be a slight nuisance.

407.4
cd/m²
397.8
cd/m²
425.8
cd/m²
410.2
cd/m²
401.6
cd/m²
419.9
cd/m²
408.3
cd/m²
406.2
cd/m²
414.6
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2
Maximum: 425.8 cd/m² Average: 410.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 93 %
Center on Battery: 401.6 cd/m²
Contrast: 558:1 (Black: 0.72 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.63 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 2.84 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
Gamma: 2.16
Sharp Aquos Crystal
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8926, 8 GB SSD
LG L Bello
Mali-400 MP, MT6582, 8 GB SSD
Google Nexus 5
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Nokia Lumia 830
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8926, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z3
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
-14%
32%
5%
-25%
Brightness middle
401.6
421
5%
469
17%
440
10%
702
75%
Brightness
410
411
0%
452
10%
421
3%
671
64%
Brightness Distribution
93
94
1%
94
1%
87
-6%
90
-3%
Black Level *
0.72
0.5
31%
0.49
32%
0.77
-7%
0.72
-0%
Contrast
558
842
51%
957
72%
571
2%
975
75%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.63
6.75
-86%
2.05
44%
2.6
28%
8.92
-146%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.84
5.63
-98%
1.45
49%
2.64
7%
9.59
-238%
Gamma
2.16 102%
2.12 104%
2 110%
2.32 95%
2.75 80%
CCT
6658 98%
7472 87%
6441 101%
6686 97%
9408 69%

* ... smaller is better

Three color modes are available on the Crystal: Standard, Dynamic, and Natural. Our results below with an X-Rite spectrophotometer are based on the default Standard color mode.

In general, grayscale and certain colors (Green, Cyan, and Yellow) are reproduced very well across tested saturation levels. On the flip side, Red, Blue, and Magenta become increasingly inaccurate at higher saturation levels and RGB balance could have been better. Smartphones normally have more balanced DeltaE deviations across the tested saturation levels and colors, such as on the Moto G2 and LG G3, so it is a bit odd to see that Red and Blue perform as poorly as they do in on the Crystal in comparison. Regardless, these measurements have little impact on everyday use, especially on a smartphone.

Grayscale
Grayscale
Saturation Sweeps
Saturation Sweeps
ColorChecker
ColorChecker

Outdoor usability is quite good. The display surface appears to be more reflective than usual, so a high or maximum brightness setting is definitely recommended if under sunlight. Glare can be reduced by viewing straight on instead of from the sides where reflections can become more prominent.

Usable on a bright day
Usable on a bright day
Viewing angles Aquos Crystal
Viewing angles Aquos Crystal

Viewing angles are excellent due to the underlying IPS panel. The device can be used in both landscape and portrait modes without notable color distortions or other problems. Apparent brightness drops just slightly if viewing from wider angles. This is essentially a non-issue for the sole viewer.

Performance

The Aquos Crystal is equipped with a Snapdragon 400 MSM8926 SoC and integrated Adreno 305 graphics. This 1.2 GHz processor utilizes four Cortex-A7 cores as part of Qualcomm's entry-level family. Thus, it is commonly found on a number of budget and mainstream devices including the Zenfone 5, LG G2 Mini and Xperia M2. When idle or under low demands, three of the four cores are disabled with only one active at 300 - 600 MHz to conserve power.

Unlike most budget smartphones, the Crystal includes 1.5 GB of RAM, which is 512 MB more than expected. This should allow for better multi-tasking abilities and running background apps without as large of an impact on system responsiveness and overall performance.

Geekbench and LinPack scores put the Crystal a step behind the Nexus 5 and in the same ballpark as the LG L Bello. Flagship Androids with Snapdragon 800 series SoCs, such as the One M8, are at least 2 to 3 times faster than the Crystal in raw processor performance. More information and benchmarks on the Snapdragon 400 MSM8926 can be found on our dedicated page here.

System information Sharp Aquos Crystal
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
1125 Points ∼1%
LG L Bello
1140 Points ∼1%
Google Nexus 5
2239 Points ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1889 Points ∼2%
Huawei Ascend G730
1160 Points ∼1%
HTC One M8
2785 Points ∼3%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
337 Points ∼7%
LG L Bello
347 Points ∼7%
Google Nexus 5
694 Points ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
679 Points ∼14%
Huawei Ascend G730
352 Points ∼7%
HTC One M8
957 Points ∼20%
Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
238.567 MFLOPS ∼8%
Google Nexus 5
273.81 MFLOPS ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
617.879 MFLOPS ∼21%
Huawei Ascend G730
244.091 MFLOPS ∼8%
HTC One M8
575.654 MFLOPS ∼19%
Single Thread (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
84.339 MFLOPS ∼8%
Google Nexus 5
95.049 MFLOPS ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
304.848 MFLOPS ∼30%
Huawei Ascend G730
88.901 MFLOPS ∼9%
HTC One M8
337.474 MFLOPS ∼33%
Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
3132 points ∼68%
Google Nexus 5
4347 points ∼95%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
2709 points ∼59%
Huawei Ascend G730
2798 points ∼61%
HTC One M8
3935 points ∼86%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
5070 points ∼27%
Google Nexus 5
4966 points ∼26%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
7353 points ∼39%
Huawei Ascend G730
4154 points ∼22%
HTC One M8
5021 points ∼27%
AnTuTu v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
17918 Points ∼18%
Google Nexus 5
35256 Points ∼36%
AndEBench
Java (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
283 Iter./s ∼9%
Google Nexus 5
407 Iter./s ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
581 Iter./s ∼18%
Huawei Ascend G730
362 Iter./s ∼11%
HTC One M8
505 Iter./s ∼16%
Native (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
5998 Iter./s ∼20%
Google Nexus 5
11344 Iter./s ∼37%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
14007 Iter./s ∼46%
Huawei Ascend G730
7027 Iter./s ∼23%
HTC One M8
17104 Iter./s ∼56%
Quadrant Standard Edition 2.0 - --- (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
8550 points ∼20%
Google Nexus 5
11103 points ∼26%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
12566 points ∼29%
Huawei Ascend G730
5781 points ∼13%
HTC One M8
24045 points ∼56%
PassMark PerformanceTest Mobile V1
3D Graphics Tests (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
756 Points ∼12%
Google Nexus 5
1155 Points ∼18%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1094 Points ∼17%
Huawei Ascend G730
754 Points ∼12%
HTC One M8
1291 Points ∼20%
2D Graphics Tests (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
2423 Points ∼12%
Google Nexus 5
1829 Points ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
2509 Points ∼12%
Huawei Ascend G730
2346 Points ∼11%
HTC One M8
3356 Points ∼16%
Memory Tests (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
1807 Points ∼0%
Google Nexus 5
2424 Points ∼0%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
2967 Points ∼0%
Huawei Ascend G730
1987 Points ∼0%
HTC One M8
4438 Points ∼0%
Disk Tests (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
8665 Points ∼4%
Google Nexus 5
8021 Points ∼4%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
9161 Points ∼5%
Huawei Ascend G730
3972 Points ∼2%
HTC One M8
17200 Points ∼9%
CPU Tests (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
7370 Points ∼1%
Google Nexus 5
9380 Points ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
14415 Points ∼2%
Huawei Ascend G730
9349 Points ∼1%
HTC One M8
17999 Points ∼2%
System (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
2411 Points ∼11%
Google Nexus 5
2984 Points ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
3430 Points ∼16%
Huawei Ascend G730
2387 Points ∼11%
HTC One M8
4433 Points ∼20%
Vellamo 3.x
Metal (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
715 Points ∼19%
Google Nexus 5
1295 Points ∼35%
Multicore Beta (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
1192 Points ∼27%
Google Nexus 5
1544 Points ∼34%
Browser (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
1554 Points ∼21%
Google Nexus 5
2884 Points ∼38%

Legend

 
Sharp Aquos Crystal Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
 
LG L Bello Mediatek MT6582, ARM Mali-400 MP, 8 GB SSD
 
Google Nexus 5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505 Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Huawei Ascend G730 Mediatek MT6582, ARM Mali-400 MP2, 4 GB Flash
 
HTC One M8 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB iNAND Flash

System Performance

Subjectively, the Sharp Crystal is quick and responsive with minimal latency when scrolling and switching between applications. Basic commands like zooming are registered reliably and swiftly without issues. It's not as smooth or speedy as on more expensive devices and frame skips occur more frequently, but at the same time we experienced no crashes or memory limitations during everyday use.

Results from browser-based benchmarks below are very good for the Crystal compared to some older devices. It also trades blows with the Windows 8.1 Lumia 830 in certain tests like Sunspider and WebXPRT.

Sunspider
1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
1550.2 ms * ∼17%
LG L Bello
1424.2 ms * ∼16%
Google Nexus 5
1090 ms * ∼12%
Google Nexus 5
716.3 ms * ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1168.2 ms * ∼13%
Huawei Ascend G730
1381.4 ms * ∼15%
Nokia Lumia 830
1237.7 ms * ∼14%
HTC One M8
594.2 ms * ∼7%
0.9.1 Total Score (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
1553.2 ms * ∼15%
Google Nexus 5
838.7 ms * ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1095.4 ms * ∼10%
Nokia Lumia 830
1194.7 ms * ∼11%
WebXPRT 2013
Offline Notes (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
2239.3 ms * ∼47%
Google Nexus 5
30.35 ms * ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1525 ms * ∼32%
Huawei Ascend G730
4795.7 ms * ∼100%
Nokia Lumia 830
2795.9 ms * ∼58%
HTC One M8
1355.3 ms * ∼28%
Stocks Dashboard (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
2319.1 ms * ∼62%
Google Nexus 5
57.39 ms * ∼2%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1540.4 ms * ∼41%
Huawei Ascend G730
3743.4 ms * ∼100%
Nokia Lumia 830
2476.7 ms * ∼66%
HTC One M8
952 ms * ∼25%
Face Detection (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
3043 ms * ∼25%
Google Nexus 5
1210.86 ms * ∼10%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
4474 ms * ∼37%
Huawei Ascend G730
7865.7 ms * ∼65%
Nokia Lumia 830
5915.1 ms * ∼49%
HTC One M8
4534 ms * ∼37%
Photo Effects (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
1913.7 ms * ∼21%
Google Nexus 5
28.05 ms * ∼0%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1296.7 ms * ∼15%
Huawei Ascend G730
2583.6 ms * ∼29%
Nokia Lumia 830
2042.7 ms * ∼23%
HTC One M8
948.6 ms * ∼11%
Overall Score (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
177 Points ∼8%
Google Nexus 5
302 Points ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
218 Points ∼10%
Huawei Ascend G730
96 Points ∼4%
Nokia Lumia 830
137 Points ∼6%
HTC One M8
271 Points ∼12%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
16529.8 ms * ∼28%
LG L Bello
16674.2 ms * ∼28%
Google Nexus 5
7852.3 ms * ∼13%
Huawei Ascend G730
28995.5 ms * ∼49%
Nokia Lumia 830
27128.5 ms * ∼46%
HTC One M8
8990.4 ms * ∼15%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
1624 Points ∼8%
Google Nexus 5
3032 Points ∼15%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
2222 Points ∼11%
Huawei Ascend G730
1154 Points ∼6%
Nokia Lumia 830
1152 Points ∼6%
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
569 Points ∼9%
Google Nexus 5
835 Points ∼13%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
555 Points ∼9%
Huawei Ascend G730
582 Points ∼9%
Nokia Lumia 830
297 Points ∼5%
HTC One M8
1164 Points ∼19%
Browsermark
2.1 (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
889 points ∼3%
Google Nexus 5
1375 points ∼4%
Nokia Lumia 830
632 points ∼2%
--- (sort by value)
Google Nexus 5
2803 points ∼39%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
2502 points ∼35%
Huawei Ascend G730
2365 points ∼33%
HTC One M8
2653 points ∼37%

Legend

 
Sharp Aquos Crystal Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
 
LG L Bello Mediatek MT6582, ARM Mali-400 MP, 8 GB SSD
 
Google Nexus 5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505 Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Huawei Ascend G730 Mediatek MT6582, ARM Mali-400 MP2, 4 GB Flash
 
Nokia Lumia 830 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
HTC One M8 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB iNAND Flash

* ... smaller is better

Storage Devices

Only 8 GB of storage space is included, nearly half of which is reserved for OS and system use. This leaves just 4.06 GB of free space for music, videos, apps, and other files. Fortunately, the microSD slot supports up to 128 GB, so the dimunitive internal storage is not a problem.

SSD performance according to AndroBench is very good compared to other top-tier brands like the Nexus and Galaxy, especially for a smartphone that retails for half the price or less.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
1.19 MB/s ∼0%
LG L Bello
0.8 MB/s ∼0% -33%
Google Nexus 5
0.84 MB/s ∼0% -29%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
1.13 MB/s ∼0% -5%
Huawei Ascend G730
0.27 MB/s ∼0% -77%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
13.44 MB/s ∼7%
LG L Bello
7.5 MB/s ∼4% -44%
Google Nexus 5
9.88 MB/s ∼5% -26%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
12.28 MB/s ∼6% -9%
Huawei Ascend G730
11.12 MB/s ∼6% -17%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
12.63 MB/s ∼2%
LG L Bello
7.2 MB/s ∼1% -43%
Google Nexus 5
15.52 MB/s ∼3% +23%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
13.11 MB/s ∼2% +4%
Huawei Ascend G730
5.64 MB/s ∼1% -55%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Sharp Aquos Crystal
116.41 MB/s ∼8%
LG L Bello
61.8 MB/s ∼4% -47%
Google Nexus 5
74.9 MB/s ∼5% -36%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
75.1 MB/s ∼5% -35%
Huawei Ascend G730
43.56 MB/s ∼3% -63%

Legend

 
Sharp Aquos Crystal Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
 
Nokia Lumia 830 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
LG L Bello Mediatek MT6582, ARM Mali-400 MP, 8 GB SSD
 
Google Nexus 5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505 Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Huawei Ascend G730 Mediatek MT6582, ARM Mali-400 MP2, 4 GB Flash

Gaming Performance

By keeping display resolution to a native 720p, onscreen action puts less strain on the aging Adreno 305 graphics. Thus, nearly all games on the Play market are playable on the Crystal. Graphical benchmarks like Epic Citadel and 3DMark Ice Storm place the Crystal alongside other devices like the Xperia M2, Zenfone 5, and Galaxy Tab 4 10.1. Very recent and demanding titles like Asphalt 8 tend to stutter more often on the Sharp phone compared to playing the same title on the more powerful LG G2. Of course, 2D side-scrollers play without any such issues.

More information and benchmarks on the Adreno 305 can be found on our dedicated page here.

Anomaly 2
Anomaly 2
Epic Citadel
Epic Citadel
3DMark Ice Storm
3DMark Ice Storm
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
5617 points
Help

Emissions

Temperature

Idling surface temperatures are cool at under 30 degrees C on both sides of the device. Browsing the web for extended periods will keep the temperature profile flat without any significant rise or hot spots.

When under higher processing loads, the bottom half of the front surface warms up much more quickly than its top half, while the top half of the back surface warms up more quickly than its bottom half. It's a bit odd, but the temperature gradient is never extreme enough for the user's hand to become uncomfortable when holding the device. Much of the change in temperature occur towards the center of the device where users are less likely to hold. Our measurements below were taken after an hour long stress test with Stability Test 2.5, so most users will never experience surface temperatures even close to 38 degrees C. The LG G2 Mini with the same Snapdragon processor exhibit similar results. It is a low-power entry-level SoC, after all.

Max. Load
 34.2 °C
94 F
38.2 °C
101 F
38.4 °C
101 F
 
 36 °C
97 F
38.4 °C
101 F
38.4 °C
101 F
 
 35.6 °C
96 F
37.6 °C
100 F
38 °C
100 F
 
Maximum: 38.4 °C = 101 F
Average: 37.2 °C = 99 F
33.2 °C
92 F
38.2 °C
101 F
36.8 °C
98 F
34.4 °C
94 F
38.4 °C
101 F
38.6 °C
101 F
34.2 °C
94 F
38.4 °C
101 F
38 °C
100 F
Maximum: 38.6 °C = 101 F
Average: 36.7 °C = 98 F
Room Temperature 23 °C = 73 F | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 37.2 °C / 99 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 38.4 °C / 101 F, compared to the average of 35.5 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 38.6 °C / 101 F, compared to the average of 34.1 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 28.2 °C / 83 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speakers

Speakerphone is loud at its maximum volume
Speakerphone is loud at its maximum volume

The speakerphone is located on the back of the device on the lower portion of the bottom half. Sound quality is acceptable with a loud maximum volume, though music and sounds seem a bit more high-pitched and hollow than usual due to the very low bass. The lack of adequate bass can be felt in songs with strong low frequency harmonies. In addition, the back of the device will vibrate a bit more aggressively than on other smartphones if volume is on a high setting.

An additional feature from harman/kardon is Clari-Fi and LiveStage audio. These post-processing effects are at its core pre-set equilizer options that Sharp claim will improve sound quality of MP3 files, which are typically heavily compressed. Subjectively, it is difficult to hear a significant difference in quality with Clari-Fi enabled, while LiveStage is equivalent to the "Large Hall" equilizer pre-set as it emphasizes echos and trails. While the effects and the visualizer overlay are neat, we ultimately would have much preferred a well-designed equilizer for even better manual control over our music.

Battery Life

The included 2040 mAh Li-ion battery is standard for a 5-inch phone. It is slightly smaller than the 2330 mAh and 2200 mAh battery packs on the Xperia M2 and Lumia 830, respectively. Unlike the latter Windows phone, however, the battery on the Crystal in non-removable despite the fact that the back cover can be removed.

Runtimes are good, but is only average compared to its competitors. The above Sony and Microsoft devices can last for at least 2 hours longer than the Sharp under the same WLAN conditions even though these devices use the same Snapdragon SoC. With that said, our estimated 8.5 hours of constant WLAN use should be sufficient for a good day of moderate activity.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
23h 33min
WiFi Surfing
8h 34min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 58min
Sharp Aquos Crystal
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8926, 8 GB SSD
LG L Bello
Mali-400 MP, MT6582, 8 GB SSD
Google Nexus 5
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Nokia Lumia 830
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8926, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
29%
9%
16%
22%
Reader / Idle
1413
1107
-22%
1642
16%
1808
28%
WiFi
514
522
2%
734
43%
533
4%
721
40%
Load
178
276
55%
188
6%
230
29%
174
-2%

Verdict

Sharp Aquos Crystal
Sharp Aquos Crystal

The display and design are the heart of any smartphone as they have a significant influence on user impression. This is what the Aquos Crystal does best since its avant-garde appearance is guaranteed to capture the attention of users who are out looking for a new or replacement model. The device becomes even more attractive once users find that its starting price is only $150 to $200 off-contract

Despite Sharp's unique take on the bezel-free glass display, the Aquos Crystal is ultimately a budget phone. The chassis is plastic, camera quality is average at best, volume is low with static, and enthusiasts may be turned off by the entry-level Snapdragon 400 SoC, 720p display, and lack of both NFC and wireless-ac support. Look past its edge-to-edge screen and you will find a standard Android phone underneath.

Fortunately, the trimmed off features have no ill-effects on basic functionality. System performance and responsiveness are great for an inexpensive device and Wi-Fi calling is a very useful feature that is not as widespread as it should be. 

U.S. users on GSM networks like AT&T are a bit out of luck for now, but the Aquos Crystal deserves at least a quick glance in person to appreciate its novel design philosophy. It looks fantastic, runs smoothly, and is cheap to boot. The small size also makes the Crystal a good fit for users who find 5-inch phones to be too big. We're certainly crossing our fingers for an international launch of the flagship 5.5-inch Aquos Crystal X to come sooner rather than later.

static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
In Review: Sharp Aquos Crystal 306SH. Test model provided by Sharp US
In Review: Sharp Aquos Crystal 306SH. Test model provided by Sharp US

Specifications

Sharp Aquos Crystal (Aquos Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
1537 MB 
Display
5 inch 16:9, 1280 x 720 pixel, 5-finger capacitive, IPS, glossy: yes
Storage
8 GB SSD, 8 GB 
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm audio, Card Reader: MicroSD up to 128 GB, Sensors: Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Orientation, Ambient light, Safeguard sensor
Networking
Bluetooth 4.0, CDMA: 800/1900MHz, LTE: 800/1900/2500MHz
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 10 x 131 x 67 ( = 0.39 x 5.16 x 2.64 in)
Battery
Lithium-Ion, 2040 mAh
Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
Camera
Webcam: Rear: 8 MP (3264x2448) with Flash, 1080p30 Front: 1.2 MP (1280x960), 720p30
Additional features
Speakers: Harmon Kardon LiveStage™ & Clari-Fi™, HD Voice, Boost Music, Boost Wallet, Boost Zone, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
141 g ( = 4.97 oz / 0.31 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)
Price
199 Euro

 

Similar Laptops

Similar devices from a different Manufacturer

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen Smartphone Review
Adreno 305, Snapdragon 400 MSM8226
Microsoft Lumia 640 Smartphone Review
Adreno 305, Snapdragon 400 MSM8226
Motorola Moto G2 Smartphone Review
Adreno 305, Snapdragon 400 MSM8226
Sony Xperia T3 Smartphone Review
Adreno 305, Snapdragon 400 MSM8928

Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

Pros

+Unique and attractive design
+Respectable chassis quality
+MicroSD support up to 128 GB
+Acceptable system performance
+Bright IPS display
+Small for a 5-inch smartphone
+Wi-Fi calling
+Very inexpensive
 

Cons

-Average camera quality
-Low maximum volume with static
-Small 8 GB SSD
-No official GSM model in the U.S.
-WLAN range could be longer
-No NFC or 802.11ac
-non-removable battery

Shortcut

What we like

Attractive design and display. Very inexpensive off-contract.

What we'd like to see

Higher resolution display and GSM support for a wider audience.

What surprises us

Edge-to-Edge design that cannot be found on any other smartphone.

The competition

Archos 50C Oxygen

Huawei Ascend P7

LG L Bello

LG G2 Mini

Motorola Moto G2

Nokia Lumia 830

Sony Xperia T3

Rating

Sharp Aquos Crystal - 11/17/2014 v4(old)
Allen Ngo

Chassis
80%
Keyboard
82 / 75 → 100%
Pointing Device
86%
Connectivity
62 / 60 → 100%
Weight
93%
Battery
92%
Display
82%
Games Performance
71 / 63 → 100%
Application Performance
38 / 70 → 54%
Temperature
89%
Noise
100%
Audio
64 / 91 → 70%
Camera
62%
Add Points
+1%
Average
72%
82%
Smartphone - Weighted Average
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Sharp Aquos Crystal Smartphone Review
Allen Ngo, 2014-11-17 (Update: 2014-11-17)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.