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Ultra niche Japanese phone with a 1-inch sensor

Ultra niche Japanese phone with a 1-inch sensor

Japan’s Sharp Company is a century-old model identified worldwide for a lot of digital merchandise, notably televisions. And whereas the agency additionally makes smartphones, it might not be an overstatement to say they’re niche merchandise, catering to collectors and fans quite than the mainstream. In any case, Sharp smartphones are bought solely in Japan, and even in its house nation, they account for 1.77% market share as lately as Might 2022 in accordance with outcomes from a number of analysis companies.

However within the Android house, by which mainstream releases are all turning into superb and related, niche typically means attention-grabbing. Sharp has, actually, a historical past of pumping out very attention-grabbing telephones with a lot of trade firsts, however the telephones’ close to non-existent worldwide advertising and marketing and presence means they’re typically missed.

The identical destiny will doubtless befall the Sharp Aquos R7, a phone which comes packed with the identical digicam {hardware} that was garnering Xiaomi loads of tech headlines the previous few weeks.

Sharp Aquos R7

Sharp Aquos R7: Pricing and Availability

The Sharp Aquos R7 is offered now however solely in Japan. You should buy it straight up for ¥189,360, which converts to round $1400. Due to reporting by my colleague Timi Cantisano, we all know that carriers in Japan are providing a 48-month installment plan.

The phone is offered to import. I used to be in a position to get my palms on a unit because of Hong Kong importer Trinity Electronics. Contemplating how expensive the phone’s official retail value is, you’d must anticipate to pay north of $1700 to get your palms on one. So … yeah, that is a niche phone.

    Sharp’s Aquos R7 brings a SonyIMX989 sensor with a 1-inch sensor and a 240Hz OLED show

Sharp Aquos R7: Specs

Specification Sharp Aquos R7
  • Gorilla Glass Victus entrance
  • Aluminum body
Dimensions & Weight
  • 6.67-inch Professional IGZO OLED
  • 2730 x 1260 pixels
  • 2,000nits peak brightness
  • 240Hz peak refresh charge
  • Variable refresh charge assist (1-240Hz)
  • 20,000,000:1 distinction ratio
  • HDR
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM & Storage
  • 12GB LPDDR5 RAM + 256GB UFS 3.1 storage
Battery & Charging
  • 5,000mAh
  • 67W wired quick charging assist
  • 50W wi-fi quick charging assist
  • 10W reverse wi-fi charging assist
  • Xiaomi Surge P1 charging chip
  • Xiaomi Surge G1 battery administration chip
Safety Qualcomm 3D Sonic Max under-display fingerprint sensor
Rear Digital camera(s)
  • 47MP 1-inch Sony IMX989, f/1.9
  • 7-element Leica Summicron lens
  • Depth sensor
  • LED flash
Entrance Digital camera(s) 12MP selfie
Port(s) USB Sort-C
  • 5G (Japan solely)
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.2
Software program Android 12 with Sharp’s software program overlay on prime
Different Options

About this evaluation: this evaluation was written after testing a Sharp Aquos R7 sourced from Hong Kong importer Trinity Electronics. Neither Sharp nor Trinity Electronics had enter on this article.

Sharp Aquos R7: {Hardware} and Design

Sharp Aquos R7 display

The largest promoting level of the Sharp Aquos R7, in my view, is its fundamental digicam: a 1-inch Sony sensor with Leica optics. Does this sound acquainted? These are the identical promoting factors of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra digicam, which has been garnering praises within the tech media house, together with yours really.

The Sharp Aquos R7 is an odd mixture of acquainted and new

Sharp’s digicam, actually, makes use of the very same Sony IMX989 sensor — which Xiaomi mentioned it co-developed with Sony, splitting the $15 million R&D invoice. The truth that Sharp can be utilizing this similar digicam must be extra newsworthy, however as my colleague Timi Cantisano wrote final month, Sharp has a historical past of letting different manufacturers take the shine for {hardware} improvements.

The cameras being so particular deserves its personal part, which we’ll get to in a bit. The remainder of the phone is an odd mixture of acquainted and new. The 6.67-inch, 2,730 x 1,260 OLED panel makes use of Sharp’s IGZO (Indium, gallium, zinc, oxide) expertise, which implies the display screen is layered with extremely thin-film transistors that provide decrease energy leakage. It additionally refreshes at a most of 240Hz. Yup — twice that of any fashionable Android flagship.

Sharp Aquos R7 display

The display screen undoubtedly appears nice, and animations are very quick and easy, however I’d be mendacity if I mentioned I observed any space of superiority over a “typical” 120Hz OLED panel in a prime Android gadget just like the Galaxy S22 Ultra or OnePlus 10 Professional. In actual fact, Sharp’s panel doesn’t appear to get as vibrant to my eyes because the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s although Sharp advertises a 2,000 nits “peak max brightness.” There’s additionally a little bit of skinny bezel that’s thicker than different 2022 Android flagships.

However the display screen is totally flat, which a lot of readers might like, and beneath it’s Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Max scanner, which is sort of a little bit of an improve over conventional optical in-display scanners and even simply a typical Qualcomm ultra-sonic scanner (just like the one used within the Galaxy S22 collection). The scanning space is bigger, permitting for the choice of two-finger authentication, and it additionally scans a beat sooner than different scanners.

A single piece of aluminum casing makes up the phone’s sides and again, and it’s a good throwback to the smartphones of 2015 or so, earlier than just about each high-end phone went with a glass physique.

Sharp Aquos R7 in the hand

The edges of the phone are vast and flat, however not like a latest iPhone, the corners aren’t sharp because of chamfered edges. It’s a comfy phone to carry, with the 208g weight evenly distributed. Sharp’s tendency to zig the place others zag can be obvious on the prime, the place the SIM tray is situated, plus a headphone jack.

Sharp Aquos R7

SoC and reminiscence

Contained in the phone is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (not the newer 8 Plus), and it comes with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage (there aren’t any different reminiscence configurations).

Sharp Aquos R7: Cameras

Sharp Aquos R7 and Xiaomi 12S Ultra

Let’s get to the cameras. The Sharp Aquos R7 has one digicam on either side of the phone: the aforementioned 1-inch fundamental digicam, and a 12MP front-facing selfie digicam. The omission of a secondary lens for ultra-wide or zoom pictures may be very uncommon for a flagship, however I believe by now we all know Sharp telephones are unconventional merchandise. (That smaller lens you to the left of the module is merely a 1.9MP depth sensor that doesn’t really matter as a actual digicam.

Though the Sharp Aquos R7 makes use of the identical IMX989 sensor, Sharp truly crops into the sensor to make use of a smaller lens format, (thus for this reason Xiaomi was nonetheless in a position to declare its phone to be the “world’s first”), and Xiaomi’s fundamental digicam has an additional layer lens (eight layers) to the Sharp’s 7P lens. Each of those lenses had been designed by Leica (apparently), however Xiaomi’s lenses are newer and developed particularly for the Xiaomi 12S Ultra.

So there are some {hardware} variations, and naturally, software program processing is maybe much more essential than {hardware} lately.

I’ve snapped over 60 images with the Sharp Aquos R7 alongside the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, and I can say that, when issues go proper for Sharp, its digicam typically displays all of the superior strengths of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra fundamental digicam: creamy bokeh, glorious mild consumption means, and contrasty photographs with deeper shadows for that Leica look.

Within the above images, you may see each Sharp and Xiaomi produced great-looking images with related coloration profiles and levels of bokeh. Within the second set of the drinks and meals, and the final set of the development instruments, you may see Sharp’s images displays the identical “depth” that Xiaomi images have, with pure, progressive focus dropoff as we transfer from objects within the foreground to background. A digicam with a smaller picture sensor would have produced a flatter picture.

However Sharp’s cameras miss now and again, producing washed-out colours, and barely blurrier photographs as a consequence of a slower shutter pace. Within the third set above, of the road posts and plant, Sharp’s colours and sharpness are gentle in comparison with Xiaomi’s.

Transferring to low-light images, the Sharp Aquos R7 will activate mild mode mechanically a lot sooner than the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. This explains why the primary set of the French wine bar appears so completely different. Sharp’s shot is artificially enhanced through night time mode, however as a consequence, the colours are too heat and don’t look pure. Xiaomi’s photograph appears not solely a lot nearer to the real-life scene, it’s simply a extra pleasing shot.

The second set is a digital tie, each cameras produced stunning photographs, though we are able to see Xiaomi’s HDR exposes the lights within the constructing in the suitable body simply a tad higher. In one other set under, we are able to see related photograph high quality exterior of the primary set, by which night time mode once more performed a issue. I do like my pores and skin tone higher in Sharp’s selfies, however the photograph is noticeably softer on particulars.

The Sharp Aquos R7 digicam presents creamy bokeh, glorious mild consumption means, and contrasty photographs with deeper shadows for that Leica look

General, Sharp’s digicam is basically good and produces photographs with shallow depth-of-field and that heavy bokeh look that makes it really feel extra like a actual digicam photograph. The shutter pace is noticeably slower than Xiaomi 12S Ultra, and the dearth of an ultra-wide or zoom lens means the system remains to be a bit missing total, nonetheless.

Sharp Aquos R7: Software program and Efficiency

The Aquos R7 runs Android 12 with Sharp’s Android pores and skin on prime. Aesthetically talking, the Android pores and skin doesn’t stray too removed from how Android appears till you dive into the menu, that’s. That’s whenever you see this cartoonish settings web page designed to show these new to the phone how you can make the most of all of the software program options.

Most of those particular options that Sharp made a entire cartoon illustration for are simply quite frequent options like a devoted recreation mode, or utilizing finger gestures to seize screenshots.

You possibly can assign particular refresh charges for particular apps, together with movement smoothing in video, which in my view ought to by no means be used. There are a few bloatware apps that come with the phone, together with Amazon Prime and Japanese apps from service Softbank and different Japanese companies. The homescreen and notification panel appears a bit like Pixel’s model of Android, with vast oval shortcut toggle buttons and a Google Search bar at backside of the display screen that can’t be eliminated.

Animations are buttery easy as talked about, but it surely’s arduous for me to see the distinction 240Hz and 120Hz. And in the event you’re questioning if utilizing the phone at 240Hz hurts battery life, sure it completely does.

Sharp Aquos R7: Efficiency

Regardless of the 5,000 mAh battery, the Sharp Aquos R7’s battery life was lower than stellar throughout my testing, providing about simply 4 to four-and-half hours of screen-on time per day. If I take the phone out all day, it will probably go about 10-11 hours earlier than the battery dips under 5%. It doesn’t assist that Sharp used the older Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC as a substitute of the extra environment friendly Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, which has managed to present the likes of the Asus Zenfone 9 and Xiaomi 12S Ultra excellent battery life.

The packaging additionally doesn’t embody a charger or charging cable, and as a consequence of an nearly full lack of English advertising and marketing materials, I have no idea the official wattage the Sharp Aquos R7 may be charged at. Utilizing my MacBook’s 96W USB-C charger, I used to be in a position to cost the Aquos R7 from 0% to 100% in a little below an hour.

Sharp Aquos R7 Black and Silver

By way of common smartphone use, the Sharp Aquos R7 carried out completely wonderful (aside from the mediocre battery life). Apps launched with out points, the stereo audio system sound loud and full, and haptics are even stable, not like the mushy mess of final 12 months’s Aquos R6. As a result of the phone is for the Japanese market solely, I used to be unable to get 5G in Hong Kong the place I examined the phone — and I doubt any reader exterior of Japan would be capable of get 5G connectivity both.

Sharp Aquos R7: Must you import this phone?

The Sharp Aquos R7 is a very attention-grabbing phone that brings a excellent 1-inch digicam that, by sheer picture sensor measurement alone, differentiates itself from most phone cameras available on the market. The show can be technically good, even in the event you received’t be capable of discover the place it’s superior to a “lesser” 120Hz panel.

Sharp would not appear to care about advertising and marketing its telephones exterior of Japan, nor does it appear to care an excessive amount of about total gross sales numbers

Nonetheless, much more so than the China-only Xiaomi 12S Ultra, the Sharp Aquos R7 is a very niche phone that almost all readers mustn’t take into account. Even in the event you had been to import, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is simply a higher possibility, because it’s decrease in value, has a higher processor, and a higher total digicam system.

Sharp Aquos R7

However this doesn’t matter, does it? As talked about at first, Sharp doesn’t appear to care about advertising and marketing its telephones exterior of Japan, nor does it appear to care an excessive amount of about total gross sales numbers. Japan is basically an iPhone nation (iPhones have a close to 65% market share within the nation, and this determine jumps a lot larger in Tokyo from my very own private anecdotal expertise ). Even beloved native big Sony’s telephones are a distant, distant second place (10.8% market share). Sharp’s 1.77% in Japan (and digital zero % anyplace else) actually make the telephones past obscure.

Japan has all the time been a land of quirky, distinctive devices, and the Sharp Aquos R7 matches that definition greater than an precise phone that mainstream customers ought to take into account.


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