Sharp Aquos Crystal Hardware Review

Sharp Aquos Crystal Hardware Review

Dec 26, 2014

When it comes to figuring out why Android has become the mobile force it is, one can cite many reasons. For consumers, the choices the platform provide are immense. For manufacturers, the draw of having a ready-made mobile OS backed by Google is hard to ignore.

What the last couple of years has shown is that when the OS is taken care of, manufacturers can then begin to battle on price. There have always been cheap Android devices, but now, that does not mean one must get a sub-standard device any more, or worse, a sub-standard looking device.

In the Sprint’s Sharp Aquos Crystal, we see a pleasantly blatant attempt to meet the one concept with the other, and a great opportunity for a formal review.

Leading off, it looks striking. Even before the screen is turned on, its easy to glean a regal feel with regards to the appearance. It comes with a grey-chromish finish on the front, and a black, textured rubbery back piece that covers the sealed battery compartment and SD card slot. On the top, there is an audio port and power button; the volume rocker is on the left side, micro-USB and mic on the bottom, and the right side is bereft of accoutrements.

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The screen, you ask? Slow your roll. We’re getting to that.

Back to that screen… the first thing one notices is the end-to-end display that covers most of the front of the device. Outside of the bottom chin, the device sports close-to-non-existent bezels on the other three sides. We’ve been hearing about and seeing thinner bezels, but this is quite remarkable to see. The bottom chin houses the LED, FFC camera and sensors. We’re talking about 1280×720 LCD HD goodness, here.

With the 5-inch screen on, the display is especially vibrant, and while it isn’t the most vivid display on the market, it is yet another indicator that it is folly to assume that this device would have cheap elements.

Under the hood, this device rocks a Qualcomm MSM8926 Snapdragon 400 chip matched to 1.2GHz Quad-core CPU, with 8GB of internal memory and 1.5GB of RAM; that internal memory can be buttressed with up to 128GB of external memory. The device sports an 8MP main camera, and the aforementioned bottom-nestled FFC is rated at 1.2MP. This is all sewn into a 5.16×2.64×0.39 inch frame weighing less than 5 ounces.

In hand, it feels comfortable, quite light and easy to hold.

Performance-wise, it feels smooth on the Android 4.4.2 that it ships with, with an experience that feels especially close to stock Android. It does carry Sprint bloat, but some are removable on stock devices. Call quality is okay, and Sharp is able to leverage the stated Direct Wave technology quite well. The photos taken are fairly sharp, and side features like Harman/Kardon audio technology is a great addition. Add in wi-fi calling, 4G and more and it’s easy to see why Sprint may have a marketable feather in it’s cap.

One will have to do without NFC, though; the 2040mAh battery seemed to struggle to make it through the day and is not easily user serviceable. I also think the call quality could be better, and it does take some getting used to the edges.

But yeah, one of the biggest attributes is price. At $239 sans contract on Amazon, the Aquos Crystal does not have to beg to be loved. No, it’s not going to knock the current slate of flagships off the throne, but it works well to be comfortable in its own skin.

The Hills Are Greener: You Down With LTE? Google Says No.

The Hills Are Greener: You Down With LTE? Google Says No.

Nov 5, 2012

The Nexus 4 has one glaring omission from its otherwise-impressive list of specs: no LTE. After all, the iPhone 5 has it, so why shouldn’t Google’s flagship Nexus phone have it, especially after the iPhone 5, which arrives fashionably late to cellular network technology, had already made the jump? Well, blame the current state of the carriers in the US.

Thanks to the CDMA and GSM protocols, and the different frequencies that even GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile use, interoperability is difficult to cram into one phone model. LTE makes it even harder with many new frequencies to communicate on for each carrier. There’s no LTE equivalent for something like the iPhone, which supports the 1900 Mhz GSM band, to work on T-Mobile, for example. The best way to get LTE support is to work with the carriers, which Google is largely opposed to after bad experiences with Verizon and Sprint with the LTE-enabled Galaxy Nexus. They want to release new versions of Android immediately; the carriers want them tested and probably don’t even want phones to really be updated for too long, after all, if someone is satisfied with their current phone, what reason will they have to buy a new one?

The US market is just not used to unlocked phones yet, in part because Sprint and Verizon make it difficult to use said phones on their network, and the 2-year-contract model is a stopping point on GSM networks. T-Mobile, however, is likely a big driver of this phone. After all, the beauty of buying a phone unlocked is that it can be used on cheaper pre-paid plans, and T-Mobile has some of the most exhaustive pre-paid options, including the fabled $30 plan that offers only 100 minutes, but unlimited messaging and 5 GB of 4G data. That will likely be a big seller for the Nexus 4.

Of course, they’re selling it as a contracted option as well, at $199 on a 2-year agreement, which is silly considering the phone is $349 unlocked! However, for those looking to buy it with HSPA+ 42 on T-Mobile, that’s the only option, is to go directly through them. Why they’re not selling the phone as a driver for their prepaid plans, the only real reason for T-Mobile to still exist at this point, is unknown.

Now, is the lack of LTE something that Google should get a free pass on? No, it is a lacking feature considering that it’s becoming standard in high-end phones. But Google’s doing something different here. They’re selling a phone directly to consumers for $349, no contract. This is something that hasn’t really been tried with a flagship smartphone. If the market is going to change to be more friendly to unlocked phones, there first needs to be a demand for them, and that appears to be what Google is doing with the Nexus 4. LTE and CDMA appear to be the sacrifices to make this sea change happen.

Disney Junior ID Now Available on Sprint Phones

Disney Junior ID Now Available on Sprint Phones

Aug 14, 2012

Looking for something to occupy the kids with during a long car trip? Disney today launched Disney Junior ID — a pack full of family-friendly content for preschoolers — on Sprint Android-powered smartphones.

The Disney Junior ID pack automatically downloads apps, widgets, and wallpapers from television shows and other Disney Junior-related content, allowing kids to play games or watch episodes on demand.

The pack includes the following:

  • Disney Junior Games, including Izzy’s Pirate Puzzles and Jake’s Treasure Hunt.
  • Disney Junior Facebook: Parents can get the latest tips, recipes, and sneak peeks on what is happening on all of the Disney Junior Facebook pages.
  • Disney Junior Videos: Select episodes of Disney Junior shows on demand. Full episodes of Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Doc McStuffins are among those available using the Sprint TV app.
  • Disney Junior Wallpaper: Customize your phone with wallpapers featuring your child’s favorite Disney Junior characters.
  • The Disney Junior ID pack is free to download with an Everything Data plan from Sprint and is available on select ID-capable devices, including LG Viper 4G LTE; LG Optimus Elite; LG Optimus S; LG Marquee; Motorola PHOTON 4G; Samsung Galaxy S II; Samsung Epic 4G; Samsung Conquer 4G; Samsung Transform; Samsung Replenish; Kyocera Milano; and ZTE Fury.

    Samsung’s Galaxy S II is Coming to the US, at Last. Here Are 5 Things to Know.

    Samsung’s Galaxy S II is Coming to the US, at Last. Here Are 5 Things to Know.

    Aug 31, 2011

    The Samsung Galaxy S II has been out in Europe for months now, but the US is about to finally get their hands on the smartphone that has been a big seller across the pond. Here are 5 important things to know about the Galaxy S II’s launch in the US:

  • All 3 phones share similar hardware specs: 8MP rear camera with flash and 1080p video recording, 2MP front camera, 16GB memory, gyroscope, HDMI adapter support, and the Samsung Exynos dual-core 1.2GHz processor. On the software side, the phone runs Gingerbread, comes with the TouchWiz launcher, Samsung Media Hub, Samsung’s Task Manager, an easy screen capture feature by pressing power and home simultaneously (amen!), and a voice command feature called Voice Talk.
  • All of the US Galaxy S phones will be classified as “4G” phones, though the actual connection speeds will be defined by whatever the carrier defines 4G as.
  • Unlike the last generation of Galaxy S phones in the US, the phone will actually be called the Galaxy S on AT&T and T-Mobile. The Sprint variant will be called the Epic 4G Touch, and will be the first Galaxy S II phone available in the US, starting September 16th. The other carriers’ phones should be available this fall.
  • Notably missing from that list of carriers is the other major carrier in the US, Verizon. There is no word on if or when they will be offering the Galaxy S II, but this hurts Samsung’s presence in the US with making the Galaxy S line universally available, one of the strengths of the first-generation Galaxy S phones. TheDroidGuy points out that this may be because Verizon classifies LTE as 4G, and there’s no LTE-capable Galaxy S II model yet.
  • The phones all share the same 800×480 AMOLED screen, though T-Mobile and Sprint are using a 4.5″ screen. AT&T’s going slightly smaller, with a 4.3″ screen that is the same as the international variant, and the battery they’re using is 1650 mAh versus T-Mobile and Sprint’s 1800 mAh batteries. This will also make the AT&T phone thinner, though.
  • Source: Engadget

    AT&T To Buy T-Mobile for $39 billion – What Could It Mean for Android?

    AT&T To Buy T-Mobile for $39 billion – What Could It Mean for Android?

    Mar 23, 2011

    AT&T recently announced its agreement to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion with the German company receiving $25 billion in cash and $14 billion in stock, giving it an 8% stake in AT&T, assuming all goes well and the merger happens.

    It’s important to note that while the two companies have reached an agreement, it could take up to a year for the deal to go through, essentially creating a GSM monopoly within the United States. Obviously, the regulatory commission will be taking a special look at this situation and will have the final say in any proceedings.

    EVO 4G Update Does In Fact Remove Framerate Cap

    EVO 4G Update Does In Fact Remove Framerate Cap

    Sep 28, 2010

    A few days ago Sprint released its latest firmware update 3.29.65.5 for the EVO 4G to take care of a few pesky bugs. In all, a total of 4 issues were to be resolved (Calender Edit Event, Multiple Gmail Sync, 30 FPS cap, GPS Reboot). Interestingly enough Sprint only decided to mention 2 of them (perhaps to avoid unwanted questioning). One of the unmentioned issues was that of the 30 FPS cap. Originally the story floating around was that the frame rate cap was software imposed due to Evo’s hardware support of HDMI-out and could not be rectified through software updates (even though hackers proved differently). Naturally this left the Evo community speculating about whether or not the recent update could indeed undo the cap. Guess what? It did!

    The guys over at Engadget have confirmed that the cap has indeed been lifted and now the Evo is uncontrollably gushing streams of FPS into the Gulf of Gaming Graphics. Great news for EVO owners who have had to endure ridicule over the FPS debacle. What now? Time to take those once chained EVO’s and smack all the non-believers in the face with some 4G fury.

    Users claim it, benchmarks prove it and screenshots solidify it. Now stop procrastinating and go to Settings > System updates > HTC software update and feel the FPS freedom.

    Source: Engadget