This eye-catching new phone out of China is a great example of where the future of smartphones is headed

Japanese electronics maker Sharp on Tuesday revealed a new smartphone, the Aquos S2, that furthers the most dominant trend with modern smartphones: the death of the bezel.

Fullscreen slider01SharpSharp’s Aquos S2, left, next to Apple’s iPhone 7.

In phone-speak, “bezels” are the borders around a smartphone’s display. On the iPhone 7 in the above photo, for instance, the bezels are pretty sizable compared to those on the Aquos S2.

Over the past several months, however, various smartphone manufacturers have made it a point to shrink those borders. The idea is to make it so you have more display space for watching videos and playing games without lugging around a giant device.

Chinese phone maker Xiaomi trimmed the bezels of its Mi Mix phone late last year, while the most recent flagships from Samsung and LG have helped put this sort of design in people’s hands in the West. The first phone from Essential, a new startup led by Android co-creator Andy Rubin, looks set to eventually do the same. And if the rumour mill is to be believed, Apple’s upcoming “iPhone 8” will follow suit.

Years before all of them, though, Sharp made the idea a reality with its Aquos Crystal phone. Its new Aquos S2 is only on sale in China as of this writing, and it’s unlikely to ever make its way to the US. But with a starting price around $US370, it shows what a more affordable tiny-bezel phone can look like.

Here’s a closer look:

The Aquos S2 features a Snapdragon 630 processor, which is fairly middle-of-the-road in terms of power, along with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage.


A higher-end model bumps that up to a slightly stronger Snapdragon 660 chip, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. That'll cost closer to $520, but it isn't available just yet. Both models come with an ok-sized 3,020mAh battery and Android Nougat.


There's a pair of cameras stacked on top of each other on the back -- a configuration widely rumoured to be used on the next iPhone. One is a 12-megapixel unit, the other is an 8-megapixel one.


The higher-end model has a solid glass back reminiscent of HTC's new U11 phone.


But the 5.5-inch display is the highlight. It comes with a sharp 2,040 x 1,080 resolution and extends up top of the device, with only a small cutout for the front-facing camera at the top. It looks a good deal like the aforementioned Essential Phone. Think of it like having the iPhone 7 Plus' display in a phone the size of the iPhone 7.


Weirdly, though, the top left and right corners of the display are angled.


The display isn't totally bezel-less, either: Figuring out where to put the fingerprint scanner is the common problem for displays like this, and Sharp has opted to put it and various other sensors in a bottom bezel on the front rather than somewhere on the back.


Again, it's unlikely the Aquos S2 will ever arrive in the US. But it looks to be an amalgamation of where smartphone design is trending in 2017, and, potentially, what the new normal for phones may become in the years ahead.


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