Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Content

  1. Introduction
  2. TECH SPECS
  3. Equipment
  4. First impressions. Design
  5. Display
  6. Interface
  7. Camera
  8. As a conclusion

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Hello friends! Well, the salads are over, and it’s time to do a little work. Happy New Year everyone!

In early September, Sharp’s Japanese mobile division unveiled a series of four new smartphones under the AQUOS brand.

  • AQUOS sense4
  • AQUOS sense5G
  • AQUOS sense4 plus
  • AQUOS zero5G basic

After some time, two “lightweight” models AQUOS sense4 basic and AQUOS sense4 lite were added, which outwardly do not differ from AQUOS sense4, but have some functional limitations. I’ll tell you more about them in the near future.

Phones can only be officially purchased in Japan. The only exception was AQUOS sense4 plus, which was supposed to debut at the end of last year in some European countries, but for some unknown reason, it remained only in the plans.

For information. All modern Japanese phones are capable of working outside of Japan, including with someone else’s SIM cards. To do this, it is necessary either to untie them from the local network, if we are talking about operator versions, or it is enough to purchase a SIM-free analog, which recognizes any foreign SIM-card without any problems.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Fans of the brand immediately drew attention to the fact that Sharp is noticeably prettier. Firstly, the devices have become visually more elegant and now resemble the models of 5-6 years ago, when Sharp was still associated with the standard of framelessness and aesthetic minimalism. The shapes of the new collection have become more angular and expressive. Secondly, the technical part has also improved. New items received current processors, “trend” main and front cameras, as well as weighty batteries. And, of course, where without the proprietary IGZO screens.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

It has long been a known fact that Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world, therefore, according to the manufacturer, all the new items presented are designed for a buyer with an average income. The Japanese god heeded Sharp’s pleas. The phones went on sale in November, and, as the reporting showed, it was the “compact” AQUOS sense4 that became the most purchased model in December. So that no one considers me biased, I will come right in with the minuses. The word “compact” was put in quotation marks for a reason, because I have great respect for the Russian language and try to follow clear definitions for each word. I admit that someone will disagree with me, but the word “compact” should be identified with the concept of “comfortable” and “convenient”.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Yes, these two words mean something different for everyone. Nevertheless, you must admit that when using a compact smartphone, a person should not constantly think, for example, about which finger he should use to reach the top edge of the screen. I’m not even talking about calling the second hand for help. Such manipulations a priori should be light and unconstrained. But no matter how hard the Japanese tried to put the definition of “compact” on the new AQUOS sense4, in fact all these attempts look nothing more than intrusive marketing. As a comparison, I will give an example of my current Sharp AQUOS R2 compact, which for me personally still remains the only real compact.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

AQUOS R2 compact and AQUOS sense4

Nevertheless, as it turned out, the new AQUOS sense4 has much more advantages than disadvantages. But first things first.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

As I already mentioned, the new collection is represented by four devices united by one design, but with some differences in characteristics. The top one is AQUOS sense5G with 690 chipset from Qualcomm and 5G support. The smartphone will be sold with Android 11 pre-installed. The release is scheduled for this spring. The most popular at the moment is considered to be AQUOS sense4 SH-41A for the NTT Docomo operator and its two-character version AQUOS sense4 SH-M15 for Japanese virtual operators. AQUOS sense4 lite has lost its “width”, but, in addition to a slot for nanoSIM, it got the ability to register an eSIM, which actually makes it a full-fledged two-symbol. And, finally, AQUOS sense4 basic turned out to be the most affordable, but the weakest in terms of characteristics. Like the lite version, it has only two lenses, plus there is no fingerprint scanner, and the RAM is limited to 3 GB instead of four. Only one SIM version is available.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

AQUOS sense4 SH-41A and AQUOS sense4 lite SH-RM15

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

In terms of price-quality ratio, AQUOS sense4 turned out to be the most optimal for Russian Sharp fans. The one-symbol version for the operator NTT Docomo went on sale a month earlier than its two-symbol counterpart, so he was lucky enough to get to me for tests first. As for the SIM-free version of AQUOS sense4 SH-M15 for 2 SIM-cards, unlike SH-41A (NTT Docomo), in addition to the second slot for nanoSIM, it also received a quick charge in the kit. The color gamut of the two-symbol version is limited to only three colors: black, silver and copper.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Sharp AQUOS sense4 SH-41A (NTT Docomo)

It’s nice that, in addition to the recognizable signature exterior, Sharp’s designers have revived the once-forgotten Japanese pluralism of color. AQUOS sense4 version for NTT Docomo appeared in 7 colors, ranging from classic black and silver to nuclear yellow and “gouge out” red. Truly, for every taste and color. Today I am more fortunate than usual. The review includes devices of three colors at once – black, blue and yellow.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

TECH SPECS

Admittedly, the Japanese tried very hard. As a result, they managed to achieve an almost perfect balance between price and functionality. The novelty replaced last year’s AQUOS sense3, significantly improving its once weak points. An economical 5,8 ″ FHD + IGZO display fits into a relatively comfortable all-metal case. It is worth noting that Sharp has recently begun to pay special attention to the additional protection of its phones. And this applies specifically to the budget AQUOS sense series.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Starting with the AQUOS sense3 model, the smartphone body is endowed with protection according to the US military standard MIL-STD-810G. This means that, like its predecessor, the novelty is able to withstand a drop on a metal surface from a height of 1.2 meters. For many, this was another reason to take a closer look at the new AQUOS sense4. In addition to the standard protection against water and dust according to the IP68 standard, the body of the smartphone is able to withstand a whole range of bullying, such as bipolar temperature resistance, freezing and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, excessive vibration and pressure, etc.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Sharp AQUOS sense3 and AQUOS sense4

The smartphone is powered by a high-performance 720G chipset from Qualcomm, has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of ROM expandable up to 1 TB via microSD, a triple main camera with a standard 12 MP module, 12 MP wide (121 °) and an 8 MP telescope. In the load, the owner receives a full set of communication capabilities in the form of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS / GLONASS, NFC, FM radio, 3,5 mm audio jack and USB-C connector. A fingerprint scanner and face recognition system are available for data protection. All this is controlled by the current version of the OS with support for all possible languages, including Russian. Regular updates come over Wi-Fi.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

The cherry on top is a 4570 mAh battery. Daring Japanese claim that a 5,8 ″ IGZO display paired with a weighty battery can work a real miracle, bringing the autonomy to a record 6-7 days. Yes, as my experience has shown, under certain operating conditions such a time is quite achievable, but in my not the most quiet mode of operation, the smartphone was able to hold out for two full days, given that in the daytime I practically did not allow the screen to turn off.

AQUOS sense4 easily hooks up to all available networks, including 4G. I tested it with a MegaFon SIM card.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Yes, I quite understand those who prefer the prohibitive processor power and built-in terabyte of memory to autonomy. For some, having a large display or a flagship camera is important. Someone needs a certain logo on the case. There is none of this here. And the Japanese did not have a goal to conquer the world. Nevertheless, Sharp engineers came up with an ideal option, which, thanks to the optimal price-performance ratio, for the first time in a long time, was able to become the leader in statistics in the home region, surpassing even the iPhone.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

  • Operating system: OS Android 10 Q, 100% Russification
  • Standards support: GSM, 3G, LTE
  • Support for 2 SIM cards: yes (SH-M15 version)
  • Processor: 2,3 GHz, eight-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • ROM: 64GB
  • Display: 5.8 ″, FullHD +, 2280 × 1080 pix, IGZO, aspect ratio 18: 9, 16 million colors
  • Main camera: triple, 12 MP + 12 MP + 8 MP, CMOS, 4K video recording, autofocus, LED flash
  • Front camera: 8 MP, CMOS
  • Memory card support: microSDXC up to 1 TB
  • The fingerprint scanner
  • Face ID
  • GPS / GLONASS
  • NFC
  • Wi-Fi a / b / g / n / ac
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • 3,5mm headphone jack
  • FM radio
  • USB Type-C
  • Fast charging function
  • Water-, moisture-, dustproof housing (IPX5 / IPX8 and IP6X)
  • MIL-STD-810G military grade, 1,2m drop onto metal floor
  • Battery: Li-Ion, 4570 mAh, max. charging power 27W
  • Dimensions: 148x71x8.9 mm
  • Weight: 176 g
  • SIM slot: nanoSIM

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Equipment

In a minimalistic white box, branded with the NTT Docomo logo, there is nothing except a phone and a quick start guide. Back in the 90s, the Japanese switched to austerity, excluding even a charger from the package. Why churn out the same accessories when, for example, charging from your old device is perfect for the one you just bought. Well, if you used something else, then these are your personal problems. Wherever you go, buy what you need. The logic is iron.

By the way, for some reason this principle does not apply to SIM-free devices sold by local virtual operators. They sell exactly the same phones, but with a proprietary charger included. Double standarts? Not! Mysterious Japanese philosophy …

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

First impressions. Design

Until the moment when I first opened the box and took the phone in my hands, I sincerely believed and hoped that AQUOS sense4 could become my new working device for at least the next year. Moreover, the phone had all the prerequisites for this. I consider the main criteria when choosing a modern smartphone to be the maximum battery life, the absence of any lags in the process of daily use and compact forms. If Sharp coped with the first two points with a bang, then I had certain questions about the last one. I categorically do not accept the systematic imposition of his opinion by the manufacturer, if it does not agree with mine.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

When I say the word “black,” I always mean black, not gray or slightly blue. In the same way, when I think about the sea, I think about the sea, and not about the river or lake. Then why, calling a smartphone compact, am I being offered a device that I do not associate with convenience and comfort? Or has the meaning of the word changed so much over the past five years? Although, of course, to the extent of my licentiousness, I can admit that, for example, over time the word “blue” has acquired a slightly different connotation. There are a lot of similar examples, but this is a topic for a completely different review.

One way or another, without straining to control the fingers of one hand with a smartphone with dimensions of 148 × 71 mm, I did not succeed. I admit that this is a matter of habit. Often I had to tear my little finger off the bottom and stretch my thumb to the top of the screen with an effort. And given that the aluminum back wall is polished and has a low grip coefficient, this only added to the phone’s chances of flying out of the palm of your hand.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

If you do not pay attention to certain inconveniences of working with the 5,8 ″ display, the device is quite comfortable in the hand. The pleasant thickness due to the presence of a large battery does not stand out at all against the background of the rest of the case. For me personally, it doesn’t matter how thick my smartphone is. the decisive factor in determining convenience is the length of the display.

In terms of appearance, the Japanese designers decided to return to the classic EDGEST style, one of which was the legendary AQUOS Zeta SH-01G six years ago. The only non-standard difference between those devices from the current ones is the front camera located under the display.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Display

For a long time, almost all Sharp smartphones have become their proprietary IGZO display. In practice, under ideal conditions, it can almost double the battery life compared to any other type of matrix. Sharp engineers have brought this technology to perfection, getting rid of many flaws that were found in the first generations of IGZO displays (flare at the edges, unnatural colors, picture fragility when viewed from an angle).

AQUOS sense4 uses a 5,8 ″ matrix with a resolution of 2280 × 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 18: 9. Personally, I had no questions about the quality of the display. The picture is moderately juicy, without the excessive contrast typical of many AMOLED counterparts. The screen remains readable in bright sunlight.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

The screen settings menu includes the standard set offered by the current version of Android 10. As an unusual addition, Sharp has added its own unique feature in the form of “Peeping prevention” with the ability to adjust the pattern and density of the picture, hiding the contents of your screen from prying eyes. This story has been practiced on Sharp smartphones for a long time. few Japanese are willing to share their secrets, for example, on public transport or in a bar. There is also HDR support.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

In the new AQUOS sense4, the front camera crashed into the upper edge of the screen, like in the company’s flagship models. The camera received an 8 MP CMOS module with a 78 ° viewing angle. There is a speaker above the lens – loud, clear and without any sound defects. Sharp has been doing well with this for the past several generations, apparently after Foxconn got involved in the product planning process. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in speakerphone mode, so don’t expect surround sound movies. To the right of the speaker are standard gauges and an indicator light.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

A multifunctional fingerprint scanner is located under the display. In addition to biometric security, it can function as a Home button, as well as a quick launch button for contactless payment (Pay Trigger). To do this, in the corresponding menu, it is enough to initially select the desired application for payment. If necessary, you should first unlock the smartphone, and then hold your finger with the saved fingerprint on the scanner for a couple of seconds. If the Pay Trigger function is enabled, then you will not be able to use the usual method by bringing the phone closer to the NFC terminal.

Fingerprint unlocking is almost invisible. The work of the sensor raises no objections

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Sharp is still the keeper of the old school tradition. At the top there is a 3,5 mm headphone jack and a microphone. Describing the quality of wired audio in such a smartphone is a thankless task. The result directly depends on what and how you will evaluate. The coming AQUOS sense4 is more than enough for audiobooks, podcasts and watching sleep videos. Well, in order to cause a storm of emotions, or at least goosebumps, you will have to make additional efforts. Here, such a device is not your assistant.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

On the left side, there is a slide for a SIM card and a memory card. Officially, the device is capable of consuming up to 1 TB. A finger of one hand is enough to remove the SIM card. Conveniently!

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

The dual SIM version uses a hybrid SIM slot.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

A standard USB-C connector, speaker and microphone are located at the bottom. It is noteworthy that the volume of speakers in modern Sharp smartphones has become much higher than before. It seems that with the arrival of Foxconn, certain functional sanctions were lifted from the Japanese. One way or another, in terms of signal volume, AQUOS sense4 has become noticeably bolder.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

On the right side, between the power and volume buttons, there is a separate Google Assistant button. The buttons of the black copy are also painted black.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Interface

In addition to the sound limitations, Sharp’s huge achievement is the introduction of multilingual support in the interface of all the company’s classic smartphones released in the past four years. This does not apply to clamshells on Android. The selection is still limited to English and Japanese. To some extent, the fact of having a pre-installed localization influenced the expansion of Sharp’s customer base around the world. Many of those who preferred unusual phones considered the absence of their native language in the interface of the Japanese phones as a big omission. Therefore, modern Sharp models in this regard outperform the same Fujitsu and Kyocera, where only English and Japanese are still available.

Unfortunately, several times in the AQUOS sense4 interface I came across untranslated menu items. It is unclear whether this was done by the manufacturer intentionally or accidentally, especially considering that they are located in the section “Convenient AQUOS Tools”, where the main software features of the smartphone are presented. Moreover, some have been translated into English, and some into Portuguese. Yes, it is not difficult to understand what exactly these or those menu items mean. However, the very fact of such an omission is surprising. By the way, similar examples of the localization curve were encountered on previous Sharp models.

Of the pleasant features, it is worth noting the migration from the flagship Sharp models of the proprietary game menu. It is activated at the moment of launching the previously selected application and materializes as an additional add-on to the standard drop-down curtain. First of all, this solution is designed for fans of mobile games. During the game, you can activate a recording of what is happening on the screen, including the sound of the game itself and your voice, if, for example, you decide to insert your comments. This is a great opportunity for gamers to quickly and effortlessly cut reviews of games right on their smartphone in real time and then share them on social networks.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

In the settings, you can select the quality of video recording, determine the sound source and the storage location of the future file.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Also, with its help, right during the game, you can search for keywords or the name of the game that you are playing at the moment. A standard search engine and Youtube are offered to choose from.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

So that no one distracts you, you can turn off all sound and visual notifications at once with one tap.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

In addition, you can turn off not only notifications, but also cellular communications, GPS and other smartphone functionality, immersing yourself as much as possible in the gameplay.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

There is even the ability to disable the screen sensor. To be honest, I don’t even know if there are such toys that do not require the player’s tactile interaction with the display. It is quite possible that there are some applications that do not require a “touch”, because this menu can be activated not only for games, but also for any other software.

Another functional addition in the form of the Suguapp application will allow you to launch a pre-selected application with one swipe of your smartphone. Swing twice will launch another.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

The Sharp AQUOS sense4 body is completely metal. The polished aluminum makes the surface less grippy, so I would recommend using the phone in a case for unsure users. This is a disadvantage, because not everyone prefers an additional body kit.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Having made a choice in favor of dark body colors, it should be borne in mind that fingerprints will become your constant companions, which can only be removed with a damp cloth. In extreme cases, you will have to actively breathe on the contaminated surface to get rid of them. In this regard, silver, yellow, copper and blue colors are more advantageous.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Like many analogs, the AQUOS sense4 main camera unit is located in the upper left corner. In this position, rising above the back wall by about 2 mm, the camera creates an imbalance in balance when the smartphone is placed with the screen facing up. The only salvation is the cover.

The NTT Docomo version, in addition to the AQUOS brand logo, received the SH-41A index and the operator’s logo. The two-symbol analogue is branded with the Sharp and AQUOS logos.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone reviewSharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Camera

The camera has become one of the main elements to which Japanese engineers paid special attention. Firstly, AQUOS sense4 became the company’s debut budget employee, in the main camera of which, in addition to the standard 12 MP (CMOS, f2.0, 83 °) and 8 MP telescope with 2.4x optical zoom (f45, 12 °), there is a wide-format module 121 MP with 2.4 ° coverage (fXNUMX). Now the owner of the smartphone has the opportunity to get more dynamic images with minimal distortion.

Secondly, the AI-based night shooting mode has been added. Yes, the quality, of course, is incomparable, for example, with the same Huawei P20 Pro, which I used some time ago, but, in general, evening shots with the use of the night mode are much better than without it. Unfortunately, when shooting in almost complete darkness, it is not yet ideal in its performance, tk. sometimes the image comes out with sand and artifacts. However, hopefully future updates can improve the situation.

Maximum photo resolution – 4000x3000p, video – 4K (3840x216p, 30fps, stereo). It is possible to record FullHD video at 60fps. Features such as AI Live Story Pro and AI live shutter have also migrated from Sharp’s flagship models. While the former automatically generates short, beautifully designed 15-second demos from the videos just shot, the latter, based on the preferences of the AI, takes a photo right in the process of recording the video. Also, during video recording, the autofocus tracking function for the selected object is available, which greatly simplifies the operator’s work. Not forgotten about the bokeh effect. Electronic stabilization is responsible for smoothing all irregularities.

The interface has not undergone any significant changes and has remained the same minimalistic, but informative. Everything you need has been translated into Russian.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Sample Photos

Video examples:


As a conclusion

The new AQUOS sense4 is definitely better than its predecessor. It can be seen that the Japanese took into account all the wishes of potential buyers and tried to implement them at the proper level: an optimal processor, a sufficient amount of memory to perform most modern tasks, an economical IGZO display, which, together with a large battery, can surprise anyone with its record autonomy, a good camera and a fresh Android 10 OS with a choice of the desired language. A great bonus is the advanced MIL-STD-810G protection and shock resistance.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

Yes, I wish I could find something substantial to write down on the cons, but only the size of the phone, the slippery back wall and mediocre night photography come to mind. The last two are rather far-fetched, but you will have to make friends with dimensions. As for the price, now AQUOS sense4 can be purchased for less than $ 500, which is not so much for a device with such functionality and capabilities. And do not forget, officially in Japan this smartphone is considered a budget smartphone, which to some extent may not fit with your definition of the word.

How do you like the new AQUOS sense4? Write in the comments.

Sharp AQUOS sense4 smartphone review

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Dmitry Provorov (obrakin@gmail.com)

Published – 12 January 2021

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