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.
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.