Anyone looking for a reasonably priced yet full-featured smartphone should take a gander at the Sharp Aquos Crystal from prepaid carrier Boost Mobile.
Costing just $149.99 off contract, the Aquos Crystal runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system on a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor with 1.5 GB of RAM and 8 GB of onboard storage. It supports up to a 128 GB microSDXC card for extra storage. The phone’s solid specs make for speedy, flawless performance, and the touchscreen reacts as expected with just the right amount of sensitivity.
Apps download quickly over Wi-Fi and install in a snap. Web pages also download at a zippy pace and look gorgeous, with rich, vibrant colors and crisp, easy-to-read text. Even Kindle books look great on the Aquos Crystal.
Measuring 5.16″ by 2.64″ by .39″ and weighing just under 5 ounces, the Aquos Crystal has a sleek, sophisticated look and feel. With the phone’s gorgeous 5″ HD display and almost no bezel, it’s easy to see why Sharp claims the Aquos Crystal has an “edgeless display.”
Overall smooth performance
Email setup went smoothly, and text looks sharp and clear on the Aquos Crystal’s awesome screen. Games like Words By Post and Angry Birds look phenomenal, and videos look and sound fabulous. Because of the phone’s border-to-border display, the device doesn’t look like it would have a big screen for a smartphone, but it actually rivals the high-end choices in this area. Its diminutive size compared to competitors makes it easy and comfortable to carry in a pants pocket or small purse.
The phone’s Harman Kardon Clari-Fi and LiveStage enhance its sound experience for listening to music or enjoying videos. Its onscreen keyboard sports large, multi-function keys for fast, accurate typing. With a little practice, Android’s built-in voice recognition technology can make typing on a keyboard almost obsolete. To try it, bring up the keyboard on an Android phone and press the microphone, then speak some text, and watch the magic begin.
High-end camera quality
The Aquos Crystal takes excellent photos with its 8 MP rear-facing camera and dynamite videos with its 1080p HD camcorder. The camera also offers zoom and flash capabilities, plus framing adviser, night catch and shutter detection and modes for improving pictures in different lighting situations. The device also includes a basic 1.2 MP front-facing camera for selfies and video chats.
The phone’s 8 GB of storage, along with a microSD card, if desired, should provide plenty of space for apps, videos and photos, but it’s still a good idea to use a free cloud storage for backing up all those previous memories. Both Google Drive and Dropbox work well for this purpose.
Battery life on the Aquos Crystal is outstanding, lasting several days if the phone does little other than collecting email on a busy account. Even light or moderate usage doesn’t seem to drain the juice quickly, making this phone a standout option for those who need a long lasting charge.
Good deal on monthly charges
The Aquos Crystal uses Sprint’s 3G/4G LTE/Enhanced 4G LTE mobile network, which the company has expanded at an impressive clip over the past year. With HD voice on the Aquos Crystal, you can also experience higher quality voice calls when connected to another HD voice enabled phone on the Sprint network.
All mobile networks have some dead areas, but checking with a neighbor or coworker whose phone uses the Sprint network should provide some insight into the coverage of a particular area.
Boost Mobile offers special pricing through January 5, starting at $35 per month for unlimited voice and texts plus 1 GB of full-speed data. A cool $45 a month gets unlimited talk and texts plus 5 GB of full speed data, and $55 per month nets 10 GB of full-speed data along with unlimited voice minutes and texts.
Boost Mobile doesn’t charge extra for going over the monthly data allotment, but can slow down the speed significantly. Most customers won’t experience this, and using Wi-Fi whenever possible can make this an even less likely scenario. There’s no contract or credit check with Boost Mobile, but customers can add extras similar to what the traditional mobile carriers offer, such as phone insurance, mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and international calling. In addition, Boost Mobile pays a $25 bounty for customers who refer their friends and family members to Boost Mobile.
It’s hard to beat $149.99 for a non-contract phone with an up-to-date operating system and many of the bells and whistles featured on much more expensive phones. Sharp may not have a lot of smartphones on the market, but their Aquos Crystal provides a good choice and exceptional value for new and upgrading smartphone users on a budget who want a device that doesn’t skimp on features, including the camera and camcorder.