Sharp’s recent entry in the local smartphone market is highlighted by the Aquos SH930W, the first one to sport a full HD 1080p resolution. Check out our full review after the break.
We are looking at 2013 as the year when almost all flagship smartphones will pack as many pixels as it can. These are 5-inchers and bigger handsets that squeezes up to 440 pixel per inch on IPS display.
Sharp, despite it’s very relatively new entry in the market has already set it foot into the arena with the Aquos SH930W and we can’t deny that it is a very compelling offer.
Design & Construction.
The Aquos SH930W is the second handset from Sharp that we’ve been able to test (the first one was the Aquos SH530U). We’re pretty much convinced with the build quality of their handsets, the attention to detail and the use of good-quality materials. The resulting handset has a nice design and very good build.
This 5-inch handset looks pretty simple, has some subtle curves in the right places, and fits right in the palm of your hands with a tight grip. The left side of the device is where they placed the volume controls; the power button and the 3.5mm audio jack is situated at the top side while the right side is bare.
The handset charges via a micro-USB port found at the bottom end. At the back, a solid white lid cover has a somewhat matte finish. A huge Sharp logo poses near the bottom corner, just a few millimeters above the speaker grills.
The device feels good on the hands, has a bit of heft to it (unlike the S3 which feels light and hollow) and interestingly remaining slim and fit. Frankly, we were quite disappointed with it.
Sharp takes the cake as the one that first released a phone with a full HD 1080p resolution in the Philippines, just a couple of weeks ahead of the HTC Butterfly. That’s a pixel density of 440ppi, the highest we’ve seen in any handset in the local market today.
The display looks stunning, pictures are very crisp, the colors are bright and vivid although we thought it could use a few more nits in brightness. You will definitely notice how sharp the images when you’re watching a full HD video on this device. For the most part, you won’t notice the bump from the usual 300+ ppi to the 440ppi but for larger displays like the SH930W (5-inches and higher), we believe it still adds considerable value.
This is also the first time we’ve seen an IGZO display in a handset (Indium gallium zinc oxide). It has that almost same look and color temperature as the IPS panel which made us think it was using one after the first unboxing. The front panel is completely wrapped in glass that overflows towards the edges.
Our only worry lies on the thought that the Adreno 225 graphics might not be powerful enough to push that many pixels especially when playing high definition or graphics-intensive games.
OS, UI and Apps.
The Aquos SH930W comes with Android Jellybean right out of the box and, as such, enjoys the fine optimizations of the platform. We didn’t notice any UI customizations and the unit was running on vanilla Android UI (which we think is better than any half-basked UI most manufacturers slap on their phones).
The Aquos SH930W benefited much from Jellybean and makes the user-experience quite good. You also gain access to hundreds of thousands of apps in the Google Play Store and if you fancy a more eye-candy UI, just download one of the many customization from there (we usually go for the Go Launcher EX).
The 2GB RAM on the handset allowed for more room to run apps and games simultaneous, albeit in the background, but you’ll have to be aware that the CPU/GPU might not be up to the task.
The virtual keyboard for voice and SMS are great, fairly large and spaced well-apart. You can still use and type on it with a single hand with some level of comfort although we always find ourselves using both hands when using the on-screen keys.
Multimedia & Camera.
One of the strongest points of the SH930W is its 1080p screen and you will surely appreciate it when watching HD movies. The difference is noticeable when compared to the other 720p screens we placed beside it. The sound quality is just alright although we wanted a little bit of volume considering the speakers are at the back.
The 5-inch display also looks really good when playing games, starting from the simple ones right up to Temple Run 2 and other high frame-rate FPS games. In some instances though, you will notice the device to choke or lag a bit when treated with graphics heavy tasks.
As for the camera, we weren’t really expecting much from it. However, the results we got were actually disappointing.
The photos aren’t focused well (we tried many ways to get it right) and the colors are a bit washed-out. The worse is also the same — lacking focus and color.
Performance & Benchmarks.
The handset works well on all the basic tasks and does a pretty decent job even on medium to heavy tasks, thanks to that generous amount of 2GB RAM they’ve installed on the device.
However, you will notice that the performance takes a toll on a number of graphics intensive tasks — like HD games and full HD movies. This is mostly due to the number of pixels (over 2 million pixels) it pushes to that high pixel density screen. An Adreno 225 graphics chip in the Snapdragon S4 isn’t really cut for it. It’s still good and playable but not as buttery smooth as we wanted it to be.
Our standard backbench shows pretty decent results in Quadrant Standard (6,274), Antutu Benchmark (10,197) and Nenamark 2 (41.5fps). The framerates are actually above the standard which means most of the games in the Play Store will work just fine and smoothly.
Battery & Call Quality.
With light to moderate use (SMS, calls and WiFi internet), the handset can actually last well over a day on a single full charge. However, that changes once you’re a heavy user and turns on 3G the entire time. You can still last almost the whole day but that would require you to be a little more conscious of your usage. The 2100mAh Li-Ion battery does a good job in many respects (it’s the same rating as the one on the Galaxy S3 and the One X+) but one can never really have enough battery.
Call quality is decent to good and reception is pretty clear for the most part. If there were any call issues, we believe it was due to our location and the network rather than the handset. We never had any experience of drop calls or delayed SMS.
Solid build quality, very impressive display and pretty good hardware configuration in a price point that’s almost a third off of other flagship smartphones make the SH930W a very compelling device.
It’s not a perfect one though — its biggest advantage, the full HD display, may also play a role in a degraded performance in some graphics-heavy scenarios. Nevertheless, in some respects, the Sharp Aquos SH930W is a winner. If only they weren’t that so eager with the brand labeling on the unit.
Sharp SH930W Aquos specs:
5-inch Sharp IGZO display, full HD 1080p @ 1920×1080 pixels, 440ppi
Qualcomm 8260A Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz dual-core
Adreno 225 Graphics
32GB internal storage
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
8MP rear camera, LED flash
1080p video recording @ 30fps
2MP front-facing camera
GPS w/ aGPS support
Android 4.1.1 Jellybean
Li-Ion 2100mAh battery
The Sharp SH930W Aquos is now out in selected stores with a suggested retail price of Php19,990.
What we liked about it:
* Simple and nice design
* Impressive display quality
* Good battery life
* Jellybean right out of the box
* Large internal storage
What we did not like:
* Slightly dated chip
* No microSD card expansion slot
* So so picture quality of the camera
* Over-eager branding