Over the summer, Sharp announced and launched the Sharp AQUOS Crystal handset on Sprint and Boost Mobile. The Aquos Crystal is based around a 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, something of a mainstay of mid-range devices. Sharp provided the device with 1.5 GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage plus a MicroSD card. The device has 2G, 3G and 4G networks plus the expected Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity options. It’s kept alive by a 2,040 mAh battery and has a 5.0-inch, 720p resolution display with the smallest bezels seen on an Android handset. Thanks to these tiny bezels the Aquos Crystal is closer to a 4.3-inch device in the hand compared with a traditional 5.0-inch handset. Oh, and the Sharp uses very close to stock Android KitKat; it’s great to see that the manufacturer is not trying to improve upon the vanilla Android interface customizations.

Now, Softbank and Sharp have officially announced the Aquos Crystal X, which is an upgraded and larger version of the original Crystal. It’s based on a 5.5-inch, 1080p resolution display and a 2.3 GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor paired up with 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of main memory plus a MicroSD card, a 13 MP rear camera and a 2,610 mAh battery. This makes the Crystal X close to early-2014 flagship handsets in terms of specification, but a little way behind the likes of the recently launched specification champion devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Nexus 6. But these figures ignore where the Crystal X has a real advantage: it’s very compact given the large screen. It’s noticeably smaller than the LG G3, which is another thin-bezel 5.5-inch display device. It’s smaller (but thicker) than the Samsung Galaxy S5 and 2014 Motorola Moto X, despite having a noticeably larger screen.

The Crystal X will launch running Android KitKat and whilst there’s no word about Android Lollipop, the device certainly should receive this update thanks to Google’s insistence. There’s also no word on pricing or availability; it’s available for pre-order with Softbank, the Japanese carrier (and Sprint’s owner) so we’re optimistic that it’ll make it across to the USA. We’ll keep you in the loop, but meanwhile, what do you think? Were you taken by the look of the Aquos Crystal but wanting something closer to a flagship model? Would this persuade you to try Sprint, or one of their MVNOs, as a carrier? Let us know in the comments below.