I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate my review.
I’m a technophile, and I love finding and playing with new gadgets. The new Sharp AQUOS Crystal smartphone? I’m in love, and I’m not the only one.
First of all, yes, Sharp now has a smartphone offering. They’ve delivered outstanding picture in television for decades, and the AQUOS Crystal is their first foray into a smartphone. The phone is available exclusively on the Sprint and Sprint prepaid networks, which after using this phone the past couple weeks is a compelling reason to consider switching if you aren’t already on the Sprint network.
The phone itself is powerful with a 1.2GHz quad core Qualcomm® Snapdragon® processor, running 4.2.2 KitKat. Its mobile hotspot capability can run up to eight devices at the same time, and like some commercials you may have seen recently, the Sharp AQUOS Crystal allows wifi calling for voice and messaging services. The 5 inch screen is an edge to edge screen, meaning that there’s no border when watching videos, something that makes it feel more like a mini television than a phone. At a cost of $239.99, that’s a lot of power for a little price.
The screen itself is more vibrant, offering a richer view that is easier to see and has brighter colors than any other phone I’ve ever used. Granted, this isn’t something that alone would make me purchase or use a phone, but now that I’ve had it, I’m absolutely loving it. Comparing it with the screen of my day to day phone brings the difference into sharp relief (pun intended). As an added bonus, there is a feature on the phone so that I can set it to not turn off while the phone is in my hand, something that is great when I’m showing people photos or reading something or thinking about a text I want to compose. I love the fact that I don’t have a dim screen or a black screen unexpectedly because the screen shut off while I was using my phone. And it is an option that is easy to turn off if you would prefer to focus on saving battery power.
Another brilliant notion is the screen lock that turns on when you make a phone call. How often have you accidentally bumped the screen while talking and pressed a button you didn’t intend to? Various phone makers have come up with solutions over time, but this screen lock is my favorite. It is easy to slide it to unlock the screen while on a call if you need to access something else, but once you start talking again, it locks so that you don’t accidentally hang up on someone (one of my issues) or press other buttons. Again, this is an option that you can turn off within the settings if you don’t want to take advantage of it.
I have been taking advantage of it, however, as well as the wifi calling. I love being able to make calls via a wifi network and not use my minutes. In fact, I wish that I had had this phone back in October when I was in Turks & Caicos where I could have used the wifi feature to stay in contact with friends and family back home via phone calls and text messages using the resort’s wifi network. You can bet that the next time I travel internationally, I will be taking advantage of this. It’s an easy setting to turn on, and I know that it will help my reception when I’m in locations that offer wifi but may not have the best cell reception.
The wifi calling itself works well. I had been afraid that there would be a delay or a difference in call clarity when making wifi calls, but I did not have that issue. When I first tested it in my home with my husband, I could sense about a half second delay where I could hear him speak in the room then have it come through the phone’s speakers, which led to a disjointed conversation, but that is only an issue if you’re within hailing distance – and there’s no need for a phone then. Once I had a conversation with someone outside of my home, there was not discernible delay, and the call quality was stellar.
I have also had fun testing out some of the other features offered on the Sharp AQUOS Crystal smartphone, like Clip Now. This makes taking and capturing screenshots much easier than on my current phone where I have to depress two buttons at the same time and hold them – and it’s possible that I don’t always remember which buttons and then have to Google it. Instead, with Clip Now, you simply swipe across the very top of your phone and the screen is captured. If you’re capturing a webpage, it also saves a visible URL so that you know where you were looking. This was perfect for me as I was trying to share with my school’s PTO how to sign up for the Amazon Smiles program that provides a portion of every sale back to the PTO. I could simply use Clip Now to capture some of the screens detailing exactly how to sign up for our organization.
My other favorite feature, App Pass, a Sprint exclusive subscription service that provides access to a whole host of premium apps for a $4.99 monthly fee. There is a 14 day free trial, as well, which was more than enough to get me hooked. The apps range from productivity like OfficeSuite Pro (normally $14.99) to games like GT Racing 2 ($6.99). There are photo apps from Fast Burst Camera ($4.00) to Secret Video Recorder Pro ($9.99) and more. If you are someone who tends to use a variety of premium apps or likes to explore new apps that are out there to find the ones that are the best fit, the App Pass is a brilliant solution given the variety of apps encompassed within it.
The only downfall to App Pass was that it gave you a reminder of how long your 14 day free trial had with an offer to subscribe every time you open it. I would prefer to enjoy my free trial and only receive those reminders within a day of my subscription expiring or once my subscription has expired. The $4.99 monthly fee is a bargain for those who are heavy app users, considering the cost of many of the apps available within App Pass. When you subscribe, you also receive $5 each month to spend on in-app purchases, which eliminates the cost of the subscription for those who spend money within apps, as well. Plus, you can share the App Pass on up to two devices if you have a family member who is also a part of your Sprint plan.
And yes, the Sharp AQUOS Crystal is more than a phone filled with cool little features. It does exactly what a smartphone should do, as well. The phone offers up to 13 hours of talk time, a key bit of functionality. When opening programs, there is minimal lag time due to the speed of the processor. The voice recognition when asking for directions or texting someone or googling a question is superb. It has done a great job of identifying exactly what I’m looking for, even to updating “mocking jay” to “Mockingjay” when it realized the context of the question. Calls are crisp and clear, and music comes through beautifully on the Harman Kardon’s LiveStage with Clari-Fi technology.
And of course, it takes beautiful photos with the 8MP rear-facing and 1.2MP front-facing cameras (though admittedly, I would like to see a higher resolution in the rear-facing camera). I love some of the smart functionality within the camera, as well. With my children, trying to take a photo can be a chore. Trying to capture an actual smile can be a process, and we all get frustrated. There is a feature that will automatically take a photo when it detects a smile. That fleeting glimpse that I used to miss with my phone, knowing that it had been there but not being fast enough, is no longer an issue. And the sheer volume of customization of the camera itself is impressive. You can not only adjust the ISO and white balance but there is a macro feature, food settings, night portrait and night scenery, text, panorama, and so many more. Regardless of what you’re trying to do, there are options to optimize it with the Sharp AQUOS Crystal smartphone. Or if that’s not quite your speed, there is an auto setting for each function, as well, that does a pretty decent job, too!
The phone itself is fairly light, weighing 4.97 ounces, although with a case that will be somewhat more. My mom saw me with my new phone and asked to see it. She loved the vibrant colors on the screen, which made it easier for her to read than her current phone. She also loved the feel of the phone in her hand, as it’s a well-designed and comfortable fit. Needless to say, she was already asking if she could get a Sharp AQUOS Crystal for herself. And that’s a pretty good testimonial in my book!