Review: Sharp Aquos Crystal for Boost Mobile
Sharp generated a lot of fuss in designing a nearly edgeless screen, but perhaps it should have sunk a few more dollars into making the display itself a little bit better. The panel measures 5 inches across the diagonal and has 1280 x 720 pixels. It earns the basic "HD" moniker, though many devices with five-inch screens offer full HD resolution. Normally I don't mind 720p screens overmuch, but the Crystal's just isn't up to par. It's plenty bright and has great viewing angles, but pixels are visible everywhere along the edges of icons, widgets, and text. Sharp could have made a much sharper screen. However, it is neat to look at such a big screen that has no bezel.
As most Sprint / Boost phones are wont to do, the Crystal wandered in between 3G and LTE 4G in the greater New York City area. Even though I live in a region covered by "the best" LTE service from Sprint, the Crystal spent an awful lot of time stuck on 3G. The Crystal did connect calls no matter what the signal indicator read. In fact, it connected all calls on the first dial. Data was slow on 3G, as you'd expect, and picked up a bit when the phone managed to connect to LTE. I obtained the best network performance when surfing in areas that advertise Sprint Spark service. In other words, the Crystal performed on par with most devices I've tested on Sprint's network in the area.
The first time you make a phone call with the Aquos, you might find yourself searching for the earpiece speaker. No bezel means no speaker. Instead of using a traditional speaker, Sharp made the entire screen a speaker. It's a novel approach, to be sure. Most phone calls sound good through the Sharp. It's not going to win any awards for clarity and volume, but both are good enough that I was able to hold conversations in most environments. The speakerphone is a bit on the quiet side and was more apt to suffer from interference and noise. It suffices for use at home or in the office, as long as the environment isn't too loud. Ringers and alert tones are acceptable, but could be a lot better. The vibrate alert is average. I missed some calls because it was too faint to feel in a bulky windbreaker pocket.
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The Crystal has a 2,040 mAh battery locked inside and it does a pretty good job of keeping the phone up and running throughout the day. Most days, the device had no trouble holding a charge from 8 AM to about 10 or 11 PM with average use. Intense use (streaming video, downloading apps) seemed to drain it slightly faster. The worst it did was to conk out at 9 PM one day. I'd be happier if the phone had power to spare come midnight, but it's often on its last breath at that point. In other words, maybe keep a spare charger or portable battery handy for those extra long days.
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