MS1 for more lifestyle-focused user

The Sharp MS1 meets the needs of those who want a simple, affordable phone for everyday use and taking photos.
The Sharp MS1 meets the needs of those who want a simple, affordable phone for everyday use and taking photos.

Sharp's MS1 smartphone is a solidly mid-range phone which won't break the bank, yet is functionally sufficient for users who want a cheap device that gets the job done.

At $299, the MS1 is one of the more affordable options in the mid-range category in a sea dominated by Chinese phone manufacturers.

Of course, it is quite a basic model that's quite light on features, lacking things like a fingerprint sensor.

However, Sharp managed to stick eight processing cores into the relatively thin body of the MS1, which really helps with the phone's performance.

Apps open quickly and are responsive, even when opening multiple apps at the same time and switching between them.

The MS1 eschews on-screen soft keys for capacitive navigational keys at the bottom, which gives just a smidge more screen estate on its 5.5-inch screen.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $299

    PROCESSOR: 1.3GHz Octa-core Cortex-A53

    DISPLAY: 5.5-inch, full-HD display, 1,080 x 1,920 pixels, 401 PPI pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 6.0 Marshmallow

    CAMERA: 13 MP (rear); 13MP (front)

    MEMORY: 64GB (microSD expandable up to 64GB), 3GB RAM

    BATTERY: Non-removable 2,600 mAh

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

Sharp is targeting a more lifestyle-focused user with the MS1, which comes in a plain white or pink colour. So users who want a simple, affordable phone for everyday use and photo-taking will find that the phone meets their needs.

While the MS1 doesn't claim to have the best camera in the market, it is clearly targeted at those who will use the phone for everyday mobile phone photography, given that both its front and rear cameras have 13-megapixel sensors.

Unfortunately, the camera's performance is a mixed bag. There is a bit of lag while focusing on a subject. What's worse is the pronounced, noticeable processing lag after snapping a picture, which makes taking shots in succession a bit tough.

The MS1 does have a burst shot mode, though, which is useful in quick-moving situations.

Image quality is decent but falters in low-light conditions whereby pictures tend to be noticeably grainy.

It can take some time to adjust the exposure while snapping a picture, as it tends to swing quite erratically from underexposure to pronounced overexposure.

I have another gripe with Sharp's default camera app, which is also the same one found in its more expensive sibling, the Z2. Most camera apps have a separate button to toggle to video mode. Sharp's default camera, however, splits the shutter function into two buttons - one to snap a picture and one to take a video.

While it does make it more convenient to take a quick video, it is easy to misclick on the video button when you want to snap a picture.

Lester Hio

•Verdict: A simple, no-frills and basic mid-tier smartphone, the MS1 is a good budget alternative for users who need only the bare necessities of a smartphone.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'MS1 for more lifestyle-focused user'. Print Edition | Subscribe