The Sharp Aquos V is a high-end smartphone from a time capsule

The Sharp Aquos V is a high-end smartphone from a time capsule

Sharp is launching a new smartphone for 2020 designed to fit into yesteryear. The hardware would have been considered 'flagship' in 2017. The anachronism is now being offered as a new product at mid-range prices. Our test shows whether the purchase is worthwhile for those on a tight budget.

Rating

Good

  • High performance
  • Good gaming performance
  • Fair price
  • Headphone jack

Bad

  • Worthless dual camera
  • Mono sound (also for recording)
  • Average to low battery life

Sharp Aquos V release date and price

The Sharp Aquos V has been available in parts of Europe since January 2020. The recommended retail price (RRP) of €229 has so far been maintained. We haven't found the device for less than €227 even two months after release. There is only the black model for sale.

In the price segment (smartphones in and around $200) only the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T is a real competitor. Its graphics performance is lower, but it has NFC, Quick Charge and a better camera. The brave among you can alternatively get the minimally better equipped OnePlus 5T for around the same price these days and have advantages in the supply of third-party software and spare parts.

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Sharp achieves the low price of the Aquos V without bloatware. / © NextPit

Sharp Aquos V design and build quality

Apart from the round corners in the display, one might think that the Sharp Aquos V was released in 2016. All design trends have passed by the Japanese by.  The selfie camera is not located in a notch or hole-punched display, but in the existing bezel. Headphones are connected via the 3.5mm jack. The display lock is released by the visibly installed fingerprint sensor.

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Display bezel, headphone jack: with the Aquos Sharp has built a smartphone from the past. / © NextPit

When you buy the Sharp Aquos V, please order a spray against greasy fingers as well. Because both the back and front of the smartphone smeared easily within seconds. Due to the lack of an IP rating, you cannot wash the device regularly. Thanks to Gorilla Glass 5, you won't have to worry about bad scratches if you rub it clean on your jeans every few minutes.

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We had to polish the Sharp Aquos V for this photo. / © NextPit

Sharp Aquos V display

The display of the Sharp Aquos V is pale and appears bluishly cool. Colleagues from Notebookcheck measure sufficiently bright 500 lux. They are also not disappointed by the quality of the display, but are rather bored.

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The Sharp Aquos V has a pale-cold display. / © NextPit

Sharp Aquos V software

In March 2020, our test device was still running Android 9 with the security patch from October 2019, and both Android 10 and the March patch would have been available. Why Sharp does not provide this patch yet is completely unclear. After all, the manufacturer has not made any visible modifications to the software. The Sharp Aquos V could pass for an Android One device if one didn't know better.

It is easily possible to unlock the bootloader and replace the software with a custom ROM. Unfortunately, there are no developers for the latter due to the small number of potential buyers. That means, if Sharp still doesn't provide updates, you're simply stuck.

It should be noted that our test pattern has apparently already been unlocked. A corresponding warning ("Your device software can't [sic!] for corruption!") at startup suggests this to us.

Sharp Aquos V performance

The Sharp Aquos V is powered by the 2017 top chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, which at the time powered the OnePlus 5, among others. Not surprisingly, benchmark results (Basemark GPU 1.2 medium, between 3,000 and 3,400 points) appear in comparison tables right next to those of Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Honor 10 or OnePlus 5.

The UFS 2.0 internal memory also deserves the rating "old but good". Many smartphones in this price range use even cheaper eMMC, which offers significantly less memory throughput. The Sharp Aquos V thus profits in the form of shorter loading times.

Sharp Aquos V audio

Mono in, mono out.  The cabinet speaker of the Sharp Aquos V emits tinny mono sound from the bottom edge. If you are recording videos, they also have mono sound only. In addition to speech, the microphone also picks up any wind noise, so making outdoor phone calls with loud ambient noise will be difficult.

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The sound at the ear is nice and loud, but the Sharp Aquos V cannot filter out ambient noise. / © NextPit

The included headset delivers a much nicer sound. The same unfortunately does not apply to the microphone. It sounds incredibly dull, as if you were talking through a thick door.

Sharp Aquos V camera

The quality of the cameras can be summarized as "medium to good". O n the back, we find two 13-megapixel cameras. Just for fun, I covered the upper of the two sensors once and went through all camera and video modes and zoom levels. The sensor seems to be completely ineffective. Even the bokeh effects work completely without it. By the way, the aperture opens to F/2.

The main camera features are as follows:

  • 4K videos (3840 x 2160) with 30 FPS
  • Electronically stabilized Full-HD videos
  • Slow-motion videos in 720p
  • A stabilized time-lapse mode
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The upper of the two cameras in the Sharp Aquos V can be glued shut. / © NextPit

The selfie camera has a resolution of eight megapixels (also F/2-aperture) and can do...

  • Bokeh
  • "Embellishment" (blurs areas with skin tones)
  • Time-lapse
  • Electronically stabilized 1080p

Sharp Aquos V battery

Of course, the medium size 3,160 mAh battery lasts for a wonderfully long time with our freshly unpacked and newly set up sample of the Sharp Aquos V. However, with longer usage and after installing a few dozen apps, smartphones with similar configurations often suffer in terms of battery life quite quickly.

However, the Samsung Galaxy M30s passed the same battery test with a 60 percent better result - and that is even running Android 10 in the meantime.

Sharp includes a 10-watt charger with the Aquos V, which fully charges the smartphone in just under two hours. Out of curiosity, I connected a Quick-Charge 3.0 charger to the Aquos V, but it did not charge the phone any faster. Apparently, Sharp has cut back on the license for the Quick-Charge technology driver.

Sharp Aquos V technical specifications

Dimensions: 157 x 76 x 9 mm
Weight: 173 g
Battery size: 3160 mAh
Screen size: 5.9 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 2160 x 1080 pixels (409 ppi)
Front camera: 8 megapixels
Rear camera: 13 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
Android version: 9 - Pie
User interface: Stock Android
RAM: 4 GB
Internal storage: 64 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2.35 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 5.0

Final verdict

Sharp tries an exciting experiment with the Aquos V. Instead of relying on new mid-range hardware, the Japanese buy leftover stocks of old top-tier components. The strategy could work out, if the manufacturer would only decorate the strong hardware with appropriately optimized software. But so far the promising concept turns out to be a toothless tiger in many respects.

Daily work and especially gaming is fun with the Sharp Aquos V, if you get rid of the pale display and use wired headphones. But especially with the camera, great potential is lost, as the OnePlus 5's camera software was been able to make big leaps in comparison to its predecessors. Thanks to optimizations in the app, blurred effects, high-contrast shots in the dark and all in all, the colors now appear much more beautiful. Sharp has really messed up here.

If Sharp can make significant improvements in the software and fix the bugs, we will adapt this review accordingly. Until then we recommend the alternatives listed in the price section.

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