Quite unexpectedly, SoftBank announced today, 15 November 2018, a new smartphone for their Winter 2018/2019 collection – the Aquos R2 compact (Softbank model name 803SH). The phone is scheduled to hit shelves in Japan in mid-January 2019. It will also be available in a SIM-free version.
The Aquos R2 compact has the world's first double-notch display and thank God, the notches aren't as big as the one found on the Aquos Zero. The display also has all four corners rounded. And is larger – 5.2 inches – compared to the 4.9 inches on the Aquos R compact. The phone's body is, however, slightly smaller than that of its predecessor: while the Aquos R compact measures 132 x 66 x 9.6 mm and weighs 140 grams, the Aquos R2 compact measures 131 x 64 x 9.3 mm and weighs 135 grams. I am happy to say Sharp have finally got rid of the huge and ugly chin found on the earlier model and on the Aquos Sense series.
The resolution has been increased, too: 2280 x 1080 px vs. 2032 x 1080 px on the earlier model. It's an IGZO display and has a 120 Hz refresh rate. Some impressive features have been added in terms of high-quality viewing as well: the display is built using Sharp's Rich Color Technology Mobile and supports HDR 10, Dolby Vision, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), VP9 codec, and YouTube HDR.
Ontop of the display is the now conventional 2.5D tempered glass with Corning's Gorilla Glass (class 3).
The only area Sharp do not seem to have made much improvement is the camera. The Aquos R2 compact has the same 22.6-megapixel main sensor with backside irradiation stack type that is found in the Aquos R2 and the Aquos Zero. Well, it's true its predecessor had a 16.4-megapixel sensor but it's high time Sharp came out with something truly competitive in terms of camera hardware.
The rear camera has the now standard (for Sharp) high-speed auto-focus, aperture size of f/1.9 (equivalent to 22 mm focal length/35 mm film), optical image stabilisation, and electronic hand-shake correction for videos. The sensor is wide-angle (90 degrees) and employs the ProPix image quality engine utilised in earlier CCD-sensor Aquos Shot phones. The phone is also equipped with the AI Auto engine that automatically selects the best shooting mode according to the subject and scene being captured.
The selfie (front-facing) camera doesn't bring any big novelties either: it's 8 megapixels, backside-illumination type, has an aperture size of f/2.2 (equivalent to 23 mm focal length/35 mm film). It is equipped with a wide-angle (90 degrees) sensor that supports the background-blur shooting mode, along with face correction. The entire screen will flash brightly in a dim environment for improved illumination. The Eye-Catch Selfie feature found on the previous model is here, too: but it has now been connected to Google's services because to start it, you need to say "OK Google, take with Eye-Catch Selfie". I don't know about you, but Google's involvement does bother me.
Unlike the previous Aquos R compact, this one is not powered by a mid-range processor. It boasts the latest and greatest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, has 4 GB of RAM (LPDDR 4X), which is now the standard minimum, and 64 GB of ROM, which is again the standard minimum for a top-tier device.
The Aquos R2 compact supports both Face ID and fingerprint authentication.
Sharp's personal assistant, the Emopa, is naturally present on every smartphone they have made in recent years – now in version 9.0. Only if it supported English...
To make it lighter than ever – 135 grams – Sharp have used an aluminium frame and PC acrylic resin hybrid material on the back. Well, these aren't the magnesium alloy frame and aramid fiber of the Aquos Zero, but I guess if they had, the Zero would have lost all its selling points before the Aquos R2 compact (I already said I'm not a fan of OLED displays).
A now conventional purchasing option for the Aquos R2 compact is the Roboqul rotating charging stand that works in conjunction with Emopa – the stand will rotate the phone to find and face you when there's an incoming call, message, or when Emopa wants to tell you something. Still sounds a bit spooky. Arnold, are you reading this? Skynet is on the rise but no one seems to be worried by this.
The Aquos R2 compact supports fast intelligent charging that takes care of battery health. The charging port is a USB Type-C connector.
Sharp did not ditch the 3.5-mm audio jack, hooray! So, thanks to its high-fidelity sound processing engine and Dolby Atmos, you can easily enjoy your WAV/FLAC/DSD high-resolution music files with the headphones you prefer, hassle- (adapter-) free.
The Grip Magic sensors are still around, too: the screen will light up when you hold the phone, it will stay on while you're holding it, and won't rotate if you lie down to read in the comfort of your sofa or bed.
Because it's an IGZO display, the glove operation mode is also available allowing you to easily use your phone in the cold of winter without having to expose your hands to the biting chill. Although not expressly mentioned, this makes me think that Sharp have finally managed to integrate the touch sensors with the freeform IGZO displays (the in-cell technology), which was previously only available on non-freeform displays. This is yet to be confirmed, though.
Supported frequencies include:
3G (W-CDMA): 2.1 GHz, 850 MHz, 800 MHz (VI), 900 MHz, 800 MHz (XIX).
FDD-LTE: 2.1 GHz, 1.7 GHz, 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.5 GHz, 700 MHz (bands 11 and 17), 800 MHz (bands 18 and 19), 800 MHz (band 26, Japan only), 700 MHz.
TDD-LTE (AXGP): 2.5 GHz (band 41) and 3.5 GHz (band 42) – both Japan only.
GSM: 850 MHz, 900 mHz, 1800 MHz, 1900 MHz – overseas only.
Digital terrestrial TV has been completely removed in the Aquos R2 compact.
Wi-Fi works at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies (a/b/g/n/ac standards supported). Bluetooth is version 5.0.
Osaifu-keitai/NFC is supported, too.
The fingerprint scanner at the bottom, like in previous models, can also be used for navigation: press for Home, slide left for Back, slide right for Recent Apps.
The Aquos R2 compact 803SH will be offered – by SoftBank – in smokey green, deep white, and pure black.
It was later also revealed that the Aquos R2 compact will also be released in a SIM-free variant, probably as soon as late January 2019. Only in deep white and pure black colour options, though.
Date added/updated: 9 January 2019 – 07:09
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