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Circuit Breaker

Sharp’s full-screen phones look increasingly less special

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Losing its competitive advantage

Image: Sharp

Sharp launched the Aquos S3 Mini in China today, a budget smartphone with average specs and an edge-to-edge screen design that looks surprisingly commonplace.

This is essentially the same design Sharp has been using for years. A few months ago, this design stood out for its narrow bezels and a screen that took up almost the entire front face of the device. But Sharp hasn’t changed much about its design in the past couple years. Meanwhile, a parade of new smartphones have adopted this very look. And so what until recently was a standout design now ends up looking... average.

The Aquos S3 mini has a 5.5-inch curved glass display with (gasp) a notch and a somewhat measly 87.5 percent screen-to-body ratio with a slightly higher than 1080p resolution. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor and has 6GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and a 3,020mAh battery.

It’s a dual-SIM device with a USB Type-C port that is still running on Android 7.1 Nougat. It has a 16-megapixel rear camera and a 20-megapixel selfie cam with a portrait mode. It also has facial recognition and a fingerprint sensor located below the screen. Sharp claims either method can unlock the phone in 0.1 seconds.

It comes in black, blue, or gold, and it costs 1599 CNY ($252.80). That’s conspicuously missing one color common among Asian phones — flame red — so at least Sharp remains different from others in that aspect.