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Sharp Aquos Phone 006SH

The Sharp Aquos Phone is the successor to the Galapagos Keitai 003SH/005SH.  As such, one might expect it to have many improvements.  As it turns out, it does have many improvements, however there are some compromises as well.

Rather than explaining in detail the point of this phone (vs., say a generic model like HTC, Dell, or Huawei, or a more brand-name phone such as a Samsung or Apple device), you can read the Galapagos 003SH article for more information.  The Aquos 006 has most of the same features, but has improved upon some of them.  Notably:
  • The Screen is larger and higher resolution, while retaining 3D and Veil View features
  • The phone still retains Japanese market features, including:
    • 1Seg digital broadcast TV viewing and recording.
    • Saifu Keitai (Mobile Suica, EDY, etc.)
    • IT transfer for contacts, etc.
    • Built-in QR Code reader functionality, high quality commercial Japanese-English dictionaries, etc.
  • The 3G data upload/download speed is higher.
  • Various hardware specs have been improved.
  • The rear camera has been converted to a dual "Twin Camera" to facilitate more convenient taking of 3D photos, as well as 3D videos.
  • There is a front camera, which can be used with apps like Skype for Video-Chat.
Of course, you can compare specifications all day (and many review sites do), but what matters is usability.  In order to see whether the Aquos 006 is a credible successor to the Galapagos 003SH, we should examine the problems and annoyances commonly encountered by users of the 003SH, and examine the extent of improvement in the 006SH:
Let's examine the shortfalls in the 003SH now:
  1. The internal "Data Folder" storage for the 003SH is only 380MB, which is quite small considering it's release date.  Any serious android user who starts to install various app will run into a limitation soon.  This is very restrictive, because in Android, only some apps can be moved to the SD card.  The Aquos 006 has nearly three times the amount of storage, which is much more reasonable.
  2. The WiFi connection on the Galapagos 003SH was unstable with the original firmware, often requiring a reboot to re-connect to an access point.  The situation has been nearly 100% resolved with software updates.  This problem appears to have been resolved in the 006SH.
  3. The 003SH was speedy enough in general, but certain operations were much slower than they should be, mainly, returning to the home screen.  Often, it could take in excess of 10 seconds for the home screen to display after pressing the "home" button.  (One solution is to use an alternative home screen, but most of those last 3D wallpaper capability) This has been mostly fixed in the 006SH, though it could probably be speedier.
  4. There is no front camera on the 003SH, making 2-way video-chat virtually impossible.  This has been remedied on the 006SH.
  5. The battery life of the 003SH was very poor at release date, but has improved with each firmware update, to a very reasonable level considering the thin form factor of the phone.  The 006 actually has a smaller battery (and larger screen!), however the battery life is reasonable (but certainly not fantastic).
  6. Anyone who tried to send video data with the 003SH over 3G (f.e. with uStream) probably suffered due to the slow upload speeds.  The 006SH rectifies this.
  7. the GPS on the 003SH could take a long time to get an accurate fix.  This time has been improved somewhat in the 006SH, though it could still be better.
In many ways, the 003 at release-time felt like a beta release.  It combined smart-phone features with Japanese technology, and it was a blessing to the many people had been waiting for a phone that offered the best of both worlds.  On the other hand, it had many quarks that took time to work out.  Compared with that, the 006SH is very polished.  In fact, considering that the release dates are only around six months apart, the 006 is very reasonable progress, though to be sure, it's expected evolution.  Of the problems listed above, the main one that hasn't improved over time, and has no chance of being fixed via software updates is #1, the data folder size.  This alone is reason enough to upgrade if you like to install lots of apps on your phone.  The other improvements are certainly welcome, although it seems likely that the 3D video camera is more of a gimmick than a truly useful feature.  It's also true that since this phone has a much larger ROM, it will be a much more promising candidate for a future Android 4.0 update, whereas it seems likely that 2.3 is the end-of-the-line for the 003SH.

003 vs. 006

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