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Sharp, SoftBank debut a nearly bezel-less smartphone via Sprint

18 August 2014, 6:40 pm EDT By Quinten Plummer Tech Times
Sharp and SoftBank are partners on a phone that has a barely-there bezel. The Sharp Aquos Crystal will come in a 5-inch and 5.5-version, both offered exclusively through Sprint.  ( Screenshot courtesy of SoftBank )

Like a PB&J sandwich prepared for a picky eater, Sharp and SoftBank have partnered on a smartphone that has nearly all of its bezel trimmed away from three sides and a midrange appeal the pair hope will give Sprint a much needed edge.

The Aquos Crystal will be offered exclusively through Sprint, a subsidiary of SoftBank, and will be complemented by a new download service from the wireless carrier.

SoftBank and Sharp plan to release a 5-inch, 720p version of the Aquos Crystal and a 5.5-inch, 1080p variant of the smartphone.

Fitted with 1.5 GB of RAM and driven by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, the 5-inch version of the Sharp Aquos Crystal will fall firmly in the middle class of smartphones. The 5.5-inch version of the phone pushes the midrange with its 801 processor and 2 GB of Ram.

Curiously, the barely there designs of the phones' bezels have pushed the front cameras down to the bottom of each phone's face. Making use of the front cameras for chats entails flipping the phones' faces upside down, according to video demonstrations.

News surrounding the Aquos Crystal has been firmly held, with an announcement of the product only arriving on Aug. 18. But buyers wanting to get their hands on the sleek device needed wait much longer.

The Sharp Aquos Crystal launches in Japan on Aug. 29, and Sprint may announce the smartphone's U.S. release date some time in the same week.

During the joint press event a new download plan was announced for Sprint. The plan provides access to an unlimited number of downloads for select apps.

The Sharp Aquos brings a new weapon to the struggling Sprint. But SoftBank has been exploring many other options to keep itself and its subsidiary afloat, especially after the pair pulled back their bid for T-Mobile.

With the T-Mobile bid off of the table, SoftBank has revealed plans to sell $3.9 billion in bonds. Financial analysts have been uncertain whether SoftBank has been working to refinance to shore up its existing structure or to acquire more business.

"If it's simply that SoftBank is raising funds at a cheap rate to refinance higher-cost debt, that would be extremely good [from a credit perspective]," said Ueda to Yusuke Ueda, a credit analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Tokyo. "But that isn't 100 percent sure, and we don't know how much will be used for refinancing."

With Sprint no longer bidding for T-Mobile, Dish Network's name has been floated as a possible suitor. But if Dish's past statements are any indication, Tech Times reports, it could be more interested in Sprint than T-Mobile.

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