Want a “notch” but can’t afford the iPhone X? Here’s the alternative

2017 was an interesting year. It saw manufacturers suddenly develop an allergy to bezels and push harder than ever to find the best way forward for smartphone design. While there were a lot of interesting design iterations, my favourite has always been the “notch”.

The only problem is that smartphones with this particular look are hard for the regular consumer to get a hold of. That is, until now. Until Sharp Mobile Malaysia decided to bring in the Aquos S2, one of the very first smartphones to feature this wrap-around screen design.

Looking at this smartphone, it’s kind of hard to not associate its looks with Apple’s iPhone X. From the notch in front to the vertical dual-camera unit at the back, the design is unmistakable. Though, I will say that the Aquos S2’s particular notch is a lot more similar to the Essential Phone‘s than the iPhone X. And I think that’s a good thing because I like the Essential Phone’s notch a lot more.

But the thing is, this phone went on sale way earlier than either of those handsets.

Take from that what you will but I should mention that this isn’t a flagship-level smartphone. Inside, the Aquos S2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD up to 128GB). Keeping the lights on is a 3,020 mAh battery. Not a bad combination of parts but it’s no flagship, which I think makes it even more attractive because you and I can actually afford one.

That screen in front? It’s a 5.5″ Full HD+ panel that pushes a resolution of 2040×1080 pixels. If that pixel resolution looks a little unconventional, that’s because it is: This smartphone features an 17:9 aspect ratio ala Mi MIX. It is in a far more manageable size, though.

SEE ALSO:  Google Play Store to charge 6% digital tax in Malaysia from 1st Jan 2020

Despite the super slim top and side bezels, the Aquos S2 has quite a thick chin which might turn some people off. The trade off though, is that you can have a fingerprint scanner mounted in front instead.

For photos, you’ve got a primary dual-camera unit that features a main 12MP shooter with an f/1.7 aperture lens and large 1.4 micron pixels. The secondary shooter is an 8MP sensor with 1.12 micron pixels whose job is to give the Aquos S2 the ability to shoot “bokeh” portrait mode photos. For selfies, you get an 8MP selfie shooters with the same large 1.4 micron pixels.

Connectivity options include support for 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, dual-SIM, as well as support for FDD and TDD 4G LTE bands. It also supports VoLTE if your carrier supports it.

On the software side of things, it’s a little disappointing. First off, it runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box with Sharp’s own Smile UX skin running on top so it’s not stock like the Essential Phone. Sharp also included an “AI assistant” called RoboS which is supposed to be able to assist in intelligent reminders. A silver lining is that the phone will be upgradeable to Android 8.0 Oreo though Sharp didn’t specify when.

Finally, we’ve got the price. Sharp’s Aquos S2 will retail for RM1,299 which I think is a pretty decent price point. It sits sort of in the middle of the mid-range pack, occupying the space where the Huawei Nova 2i (RM1,299) is its biggest rival. I’d argue that the Aquos S2 has a better look but the Nova 2i’s got that big juicy 3,340 mAh battery. One strength is that the Aquos S2 uses USB-C while the Nova 2i still relies on Micro USB.

SEE ALSO:  Google Play Store to charge 6% digital tax in Malaysia from 1st Jan 2020

If you’re interested, the Sharp will be accepting pre-orders for the Aquos S2 from the 28th Dec 2017 to the 3rd of January 2018. You can pre-order from major e-commerce retailers like Lazada Malaysia, 11street, Shopee, DirectD and Satu Gadget Dot Com. Pre-ordering from these sites will net you a free pair of SLS-100 Stereo Wireless Bluetooth headset while the first 50 pre-order customers will also get a 32GB SanDisk ultra microSD card on top of that.

For more details, check out Sharp Mobile Malaysia’s Facebook Page.