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The first 1-inch camera smartphone from a major firm is now official

Its release marks a major milestone for smartphone photography.

Published onMay 17, 2021

  • Sharp has announced its new flagship smartphone, the Aquos R6.
  • The device packs a 1-inch camera sensor with Leica-designed optics.
  • It also features a 240Hz IGZO OLED display.

It seemed improbable a few years ago that a smartphone would pack camera sensors equivalent in size to dedicated shooters. Now, it seems that Sharp, partnering with Leica, has achieved this with its Aquos R6 flagship.

Sharp’s latest device features a rear camera array headlined by a 20MP 1-inch primary camera sensor. It’s a milestone for mainstream smartphones, considering that many dedicated pocketable shooters pack 1-inch sensors. Sharp also trumps its mobile competitors in this regard. Samsung currently offers a 1/1.12-inch sensor in the form of the 50MP Isocell GN2 but hasn’t yet breached the 1-inch barrier. Sony is also rumored to have a 1-inch sensor in development, but it hasn’t seen an official release. There’s no clear indication of which firm is behind Sharp’s sensor.

See also: Bring on the camera sensor arms race

Nevertheless, Sharp claims its 1-inch shooter suppresses noise in darker scenes and produces more natural bokeh. That sensor occupies most of the phone’s top third, but a ToF sensor and flash also join it. The camera also features a Leica-designed f/1.9 seven-element lens with EIS.

Sharp’s no stranger to quirky camera innovation. The Aquos R2 packed two dedicated cameras at the rear — one for stills, the other for video. The Aquos R3 also packed two notches between a 120Hz display.

What else does the Aquos R6 offer?

The Sharp Aquos R6 is a little more serious than its predecessors in hardware, though. The phone packs a tapered 6.6-inch Pro IGZO OLED display with WUXGA+ resolution and a scalable 240Hz refresh rate. Notably, it can drop down to 1Hz when required, saving unnecessary drain on the 5,000mAh battery. Sharp is also claiming the display has a max brightness of 2,000 nits — reportedly the highest peak brightness of a mobile display to date. It also houses Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Max ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and a 12.6MP selfie camera mounted in a cutout.

As for silicon, the Snapdragon 888 is present alongside up to 12GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. There’s a microSD card slot for expansion, too. 5G smarts, Bluetooth 5.2, and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity also feature.

Sharp Aquos R6: Hot or not?

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There are some omissions, though. It isn’t IP68 rated like some modern flagships but instead packs an IPX5/8 rating for water and dust protection. The Aquos R6 also lacks wireless charging. It does, however, feature NFC and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Android 11 also comes baked in.

Sharp Aquos R6: Price and availability

There’s no word on its pricing just yet, but expect the phone to make its bow in Japan after mid-June in black and white colorways. It’s unclear if the phone will see a wider worldwide release.

Even if it doesn’t see a global unveiling, here’s to hoping the Aquos R6 opens the floodgates to larger camera sensors on smartphones.