This phone is a japanese SHARP brand phone, based on the SH-06D Aquos model. In short, this is an HD 3D capable screen phone that looks AWESOME. The NERV edition was limited to only 30 000 units that were almost sold out as it was released. Fortunately, the EVANGELION stores had kept some and are still available for sell.
For the hardware guys, here are the specs:
• 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A9 Dual-Core TI-OMAP4460 processor
• PowerVR SGX 540 GPU
• Internal Memory : 2Gb, supports up to 32 Gb MicroSDHC.
• 8Gb ROM
• 1Gb RAM
• Display: Mobile ASV Aquos 4.5" LCD screen 720 x 1280 pixels, 329ppi (720p)
• Capacitive Touchscreen
• 3D capable glasses free display
• 8 Megapixel HD camera (2448 x 3264 pixels) 3D capable
• 0.3 Megapixel front camera
• 2G Network : GSM GPRS EDGE 850 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
• 3G Network : UMTS HSDPA UMTS 800, 850, 1700, 2100 MHz
• DOES NOT SUPPORT 4G - LTE Networks
• Micro SD memory card supports up to 32 gigs
• Bluetooth version 3.0
• Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
• Micro USB 2.0
• GPS module Built in
• Size : 128 × 66 × 11.8 mm
• Weight 145g
• Operating System: Android 2.3 Gingerbread (upgradeable to 4.0 IceCreamSandwich)
And, here is the link for the original manual, in English fortunatelly !
The original OS installed on this device is Android 2.3, however the OS can be upgraded to 4.0, and it does contains all the customizations and cool stuff loaded on the 2.3 version.
You can google a lot for pictures and some small reviews, yet on any western language, most of them are pretty outdated (way before the release of the mobile, or just about the release date, back on 2012), as well as a lot of UNBOXING videos showing the contents and initial startup sequences of this cool device, so I shall not waste your reading time on that, but rather focus on the post-buy experiences and performance of the phone.
Being past owner of a Samsung Galaxy SII and being used to great design lines, perfect fit parts and great appearance, the SH-06D NERV is AWESOME. Physically it feels damn light compared to most of the mobile phones available on the Americas region. Despite of being so light (just 145g) the feeling is pretty solid. After the initial assembly, that is, inserting the MicroSD card, SIM and battery in place and fitting the cool back cover, there is no "cheap construction" feeling. Everything fits perfectly on its place, giving it a very solid sensation.
The hardware buttons are great, both in design and feel. Having a HOME, MENU and BACK buttons is handy. This works the same for the POWER and VOLUME buttons.
Talking about the great MAGI UI, it is simply mind-blowing. All the customized icons are gorgeous to the eye, and having almost all of them a cool functionality, makes them a great choice for a home screen.
When testing, and actually get to know, the whole bunch of japanese apps this phone is loaded with, I noticed that most of them work only on Japan. This is because most of them are bonded with the DOCOMO SIM. The NOTTV is not, however it is a satellite broadcast that is also only available in Japan, so unfortunately, the cool NERV ONLY antenna is just a cool accessory on this side of the Pacific.
Another super cool feature is that you can control the color of the small LED located on the top right corner of the phone. This can be set on the SOUND settings (odd isn't it, being a display feature LOL), you can choose a blinking pattern and a color for this light for incoming calls or messages !
Perhaps one of the most impressive details of this model is that it DOES is dust and water proof. The only visible connectors it has are the dock contacts located on the left. The other available contact is the Micro USB connector, located on the top of the device. However, it is concealed by a rubber cover, which works for the anti-dust anti-water protection.
This protection can be seen as well when assembling the phone. The back cover of the device has also a rubber protection around the battery compartment to provide full dust and water isolation.
Hands On: PERFORMANCE
Just before the great first impressions, comes the not-so-impressive ones. Beware, this are just some opinions and personal tests I found while using this great phone. If you are planning on buying this AWESOME mobile phone, STILL DO regardless of this review. It is intended just to point out some features that are not available outside Japan and some curious behaviors of the hardware. The concepts EVANGELION PHONE, JAPANESE PHONE, LIMITED EDITION and the famous SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY are totally worth it !!
Overall, the 4.0 ICS is pretty stable. This heavily EVANGELION customized version is amazing! HOWEVER, there are some details that I noticed upon usage:
The great Mobile ASV Aquos 4.5" LCD screen looks GORGEOUS! Displaying HD in 720p (720 x 1280 pixels) it contains a very high pixel density, 329ppi, so almost ANY image displayed here shall look impressive. And it has the great plus of being 3D display capable. This might not be the first device having it, however it does is one of the first to include it with 720p resolution.
The bad: None so far ! After having this great device for about 2 months, the screen is totally impressive. There is only one small detail I noticed with my mobile, it has one stuck pixel. Dunno if it is a factory problem or if it happened when it was shipped overseas, but I need to get it unstuck somehow.
Having a 1520mAh battery for a dual 1.2Ghz processor is a bit underpowered. Taking in consideration that it is supporting also a 720p 3D screen, makes it look even worse. But fear not (much), the battery does works as expected, yet it does run a bit low on capacity. Having the MAGI home does drains a lot of power, since most of the widgets are mostly indicators (Battery, CPU, RAM, Memory, Weather, Location, Time, EVA news, Signal level), they take a big toll on power draining. It can give you a full day work on normal usage and lots of standby time, but you did not bought this phone to let it on stand by, do you?
If you are playing the "Attack of the 8th Angel" or viewing lots of videos, surfing on the internet, updating whatever app you have downloaded on your phone, or playing any visual intensive game, your battery shall suffer and you can get like 6 hrs of continuous fun, tops.
This mobile gets loaded with tons of japanese apps, but alas, almost all of them do work only on Japan =( The NOTTV app is worthless on the Americas, so it is safe to uninstall it (if you want of course).
One of the best apps is the 3D capable picture viewer. This small app can convert your regular 2D JPGs (yes, only JPGs, PNGs and other formats do not work, so you have to convert them, and you can with the included photo editor !) into great 3D images that look incredible on this phone. I have not been able to test the 3D images on another device, but I assume they are looking great. The 3D conversion is done by making 2 files of the original, one JPG and one MPO file, that once read with a 3D capable program, make the 3D image possible.
The not good: Unfortunately, this gorgeous phone is coupled with just 1Gb RAM, which makes is a bit underpowered for today's apps, so from once in a while your apps will crash on you. It is very rare, but it does happens.
Some apps tend to use a lot of RAM and a lot of CPU. IF you are using the MAGI home (the one with all the EVA apps), almost any app you run will have some troubles. The phone will become sluggish and, as said before, apps might crash. If you use the regular HOME app, you shall free a lot of RAM and CPU time, so apps shall run a lot better, BUT you will not be having the AWESOME MAGI home !!!! Hard decision to make LOL.
SH06D NERV comes bundled with EVERYTHING you need to get connected nowadays, except for one very recent share protocol that requires some hardware. It has:
- WI-FI: Full 802.11 B/G/N support, teetering and Wi-Fi direct.
- Bluetooth: 3.0 version
- INFRARED: Yes, it does has Infrared bundled !! It is pretty outdated this days, that is true, but worths having it.
- GPS: Works pretty good with almost any GPS app. I have tried it with Ndrive and works great. Lock times are not that high and accuracy is pretty good.
- MicroUSB: 2.0 version, can connect it to your computer and provides various connectivity protocols, although I have used only one:
- MTP mode
- PTP mode
- Card Reader mode: This might be the most used of all, as it allows you to mount your MicroSD card on your PC or MAC.
- Fast Transfer Mode
- MediaJet Install
The bad touch: It has a strange connectivity protocol called iC communication. As far as I got, this is a somehow similar to NFC (Near Field Communication) protocol used only in Japan (another japan only feature). The recent protocol I talked about previously is this NFC capability, it is not included and it is not compatible with the iC communication.
The other bad thing on connectivity is that being a Dust-Water proof mobile, it only has the MicroUSB connector on the top, and that's it. This means that you do not get any 3.5mm mini plug for earphones, but through an USB adapter (included on the box of course). Also, if you need to charge your phone, you can charge it via the MicroUSB cable, OR via the docking cradle. Unfortunately, the cradle does not have an USB port, but rather a FOMA connector. This is a very common power adapter connector on Japan, but it is nearly 99% unknown on the Americas, meaning that you should consider buying the FOMA AC or DC adapter, otherwise you will be stuck at charging your phone via computer USB cable, action that can make the MicroUSB connector rubber cover to become weak over time.
This might be the camera software with the most options available I have every used. It DOES has a lot of options, ranging from the regular exposure, white balance, ISO levels and predefined scenes, to D-Range correction, shake control, shutter settings, 3D camera switch, fish eye option among others.
One of the cool things on the camera is that, even having only 1 lens, it is able to take 3D pictures by using a small trick, in which the software allows you to take one picture, then you need to move the phone slightly to your right, and it takes a second picture. This conforms afterwards the 3D image. You need to practice a bit on taking this pics, but the results are pretty good.
Another cool feature is the Rapid Shooting option. This is mostly the fastest one I have tested: it is able to take up to 50 photos in about 1.5 secs. Then it allows you to review all the shoots and you can pic which ones to save.
The bad: Despite being an 8Mp camera, the sensor is not that good. The pictures tend to get blurry a lot and it does not takes very well the white balance on low light conditions. When taking photos / video on daylight or outdoors, the quality is great, but indoors or low light, the pics are not that good. Also, the flash is very hard to manage, as it only has a "Mobile light" control, which should be working as a flash, but takes some time to get used to it.
Being a 0.3 Mp camera, it just does the job. Nothing impressive about it, it can be used for video conferencing with no troubles. Yet, when I tested it with Skype with a Nokia Lumia 920, the difference was HUMUNGOUS. I had some trouble getting the video signal from the front camera on the NERV phone right, but after the 2nd attempt, it went well. The quality was not that good, but for a regular quality video call is OK.
The sound quality on this great phone is just average. The loudspeaker and the earpiece sound very much alike, like an old radio. Curiously, the earpiece can be heard very loud, making it to think that the loudspeaker was on; at least happened to me a couple of times already during a call. The overall volume of the loudspeaker is average, with also an average quality.
The sad part: The earpiece sounds pretty cheap. Unfortunately being a phone built mostly of plastic, the soul quality of the earpiece is way underrated for such a great phone. It sounds like a walkie talkie. Whatever sound it comes from it is very understandable, however it simply sounds cheap.
Another detail, might not be a sound issue, but rather an application or processor/memory problem, is this: When using the Media Player application (or the MAGI audio player), any MP3 that you play tends to "click" and becomes interrupted for a fraction of a second. This happens if you are using the loudspeaker to reproduce your favorite song, or if you are using the USB to Miniplug accessory to connect headphones or loudspeakers. I have not been able to determine what might be causing this problem, but after a while, it gets annoying.
After using the phone for a while, I noticed a strange behaviour with the screen: It turns completelly black for about an hour or so, leaving you with no way to access anything on the phone.
This happened to me 2 times already and this is the process:
- The moblie goes into stand by (either by pressing the power button or by timeout) in a normal way.
- When trying to resume from standby, either by pressing the home button or the power button, the screen is black, but you can see that it is still turned on, since you are able to see the white glow on the edges of the screen.
- Pressing the power button or home buttons does nothing.
- After a couple of seconds, the screen does turns off. This can be noticed because the white glow dissapears and the screen goes totally black.
- The hardware buttons are still on, everytime you press them, the light behind them turns on, this means that the phone is still on, but the screen goes off.
- The touchscreen is still functional and the mobile can be rebooted, however even after soft reboot, the screen is still completely off.
- Taking the battery out and leaving the phone off for up to 30 mins does nothing at all. When reinserting the battery and turning on the mobile, the hardware buttons turn on, BUT the screen does not comes up. The touchscreen still works though.
- After leaving the phone with the battery out for about 6 hrs or so (I left it overnight), and then reinserting everything in place, the phone finally turns on ! Heart goes back to normal beating LOL !
- Lots of apps open at once.
- One app that takes up lots of screen time and upon resuming something goes wrong.
- A problem with the screen controller (might be hardware related).
- Factory problem with the screen.
- 1 or several spirits the phone acquired while being shipped LOL.
After a few days of this review, I got another screen problem: When taking the phone out of standby in normal operation, my screen went totally PURPLE. All colors were in purple hue, that is background, icons, everything. Even the lock screen was showing purple colors !!
Then, I simply turned the screen off (sent the mobile to stand by mode) and waking it up again and screen went back to normal.
I had to contact the seller to inform about this problem, and after sending him this review, it turned out that the mobile needed to be fixed, so I shall be sending this beauty back to Japan for warranty. Fortunately warranty is still in place till 2015 as per DOCOMO site, so it is a good support time still.
Overall, it is a bit old mobile, yet the heavy customization both on software and hardware really worth having it. If you can get one, do not think about it, just go get it !!