Best Japanese Android smartphones of 2015

Best Japanese Android smartphones of 2015
When we rounded up the best that the Japanese had to offer in 2014, we started the piece by contrasting the state of Japan's recently struggling tech industry to what it used to be just a decade ago: a leader. Indeed, this also showed with smartphones which, with very few exceptions, were actually behind on adopting the latest technologies that mainstream makers had been pushing for a while already, and delivered practical, but not wow!-worthy handsets.

This year, however, we're noticing a change in pace. For one, all of the devices on the list below, save one, offer some pretty exceptional hardware to local buyers and adventurous customers from beyond the pond. Who are they, and what do they offer? Let's find out!

Sharp Aquos Crystal 2

Let's start off small: the 5.2-inch, Softbank-bound Sharp Aquos Crystal 2. Yes, the successor to that Aquos Crystal — the super-compact (77.20% screen-to-body ratio), so the specs are naturally worthy of 'just' a mid-ranger. The resolution reads 720 x 1280, the processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (quad-core), and the RAM: 2GB. On the back, we're looking at an 8-megapixel main camera, with a 2-megapixel selfie snapper on selfie patrol up front, along with 16GB of expandable storage, and a 2,030 mAh juicebox. As can be expected at this point, the Crystal 2 is powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop, and, like any self-respecting Japanese smartphone, is water- and dust-resistant (IP67).

Sharp Aquos Xx

The Crystal 2 is nice device and all, but it doesn't hold a candle to its bigger sibling, the Aquos Xx. 

Also available exclusively through Softbank, the Xx is a true flagship — true enough to get us to highlight it in our fortnightly Monsters from Asia column, where you can read more about it. In the meantime, the summary goes like this: a 5.7-incher with 1080 x 1920 resolution, an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with Adreno 430 GPU and 3 gigs of RAM, a 13.1-megapixel main camera (2.1-megapixels up front) with optical stabilization, and a 3,000 mAh battery. Of course, the Xx is also water- and dust-resistant, with an IP67 certification.

Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G

While we haven't covered Fujitsu's 2015 Arrows NX F-04G in our Monsters from Asia column yet, we certainly took a shine to its predecessor, the F-02G. An octagonal-shaped phone, the F-02G is quite different in terms of looks from its successor, which is also packed to the brim with bleeding edge specs.

We start off with a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display packing a Quad HD (1440 x 2560) pixel resolution, good for 565 pixels per inch. Beyond that, we're looking at an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with Adreno 430 graphics, 3GB of RAM, a 20.7-megapixel main camera (likely courtesy of Sony), 32GB of storage expandable through microSD, and a hearty, 3,120 mAh battery. The phone is also IP68-certified, so locals don't have to freak out every time they spill something over it. Oh, did we mention that the NX F-04G also features an iris scanner capable of recognizing you and giving you instant access to your phone, no lock screens or nothing? Yep.

LG isai vivid LGV32

Yes, yes, LG is not a Japanese company. We know. But the isai vivid LGV32 is a device exclusively available to au KDDI customers in Japan, so we have no qualms about calling it a Japanese phone, especially since the carrier has previously meddled with product design of previous isai series devices.

With that out of the way, here's what LG's is offering Japanese locals: a 5.5-incher (IPS LCD), with a Quad HD (1440 x 2560) pixel resolution, hexa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor with Adreno 418 GPU, 3 gigs of RAM, 32GB of internal memory that can be expanded, and a 16-megapixel main camera with a 2.1-megapixel selfie sidekick up front. The battery sits at 3,000 mAh capacity, and the Android OS on board is the 5.1 Lollipop build. So, in other words, an LG G4 for Japan, right? Well, as mentioned, the selfie snapper on the isai vivid is less impressive than the G4's, but at the same the device is actually IP67-certified, so it offers water- and dust-resistance on top of the G4 that we know in the rest of the world. 

HTC J Butterfly HTV31

Another unlikely candidate for a list of Japanese devices, the au KDDI-bound HTC J Butterfly HTV31 is also a regional phenomenon. It also happens to be one of HTC's most decked-out devices to date.

Here's what we've got: a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with a Quad HD (1440 x 2560) resolution delivering a pixel density of 565, an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with Adreno 430 GPU, 3GB of RAM, a 20-megapixel, optically stabilized Duo Camera at the rear, and a 13-megapixel selfie snapper with flash up front. The phone also offers 32GB of storage that you can expand upon, a 2,700 mAh juicer, Android 5.0 Lollipop, and IP57 certification.

Sharp Aquos ZETA SH-03G

Another member of the Monsters from Asia club, the Sharp Aqusos ZETA SH-03G, like the rest of the devices on the list, is well-deserving of being dubbed one of the best Japanese devices of 2015. We start with a 5.5-inch IGZO display with 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution, and then move onto an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 gigs of RAM, a 13-megapixel snapper with optical stabilization (2.1-megapixel cam for selfies), and a fingerprint scanner. The IP57-certified Zeta is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery and Android 5.0 Lollipop. And by the way, with a body-to-screen ratio of 78%, this is among the most compact devices relative to its screen size.

Sony Xperia Z4 

As the Sony faithful will know, before there was talk of Xperia Z3+ and Z4v, it was all about the Xperia Z4. That one turned out to be a Japanese exclusive, however, and serves as the platform on which the Xperia Z3+ (completely identical) and the Z4v (larger battery, Quad HD display) were built on.

The Xperia Z4, then, is the Xperia Z3+, but in a regional flavor with no actual differences in the specs sheet. So we have a 5.2-inch display with 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution, an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 gigs of RAM, a 20.7-megapixel main camera, and 2,930 mAh battery. There's also a 32GB memory chip within, IP68 certification, and Android 5.0 Lollipop to be found on board.

Sharp Aquos PAD SH-05G

At 7-inches (1080p), the Sharp Aquos PAD SH-05G is more of a tablet than smartphone, but the fact that it can do calls puts in that odd area between the two form factors. So we thought we'd mention it, as well.

The tablet offers an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel main camera with a 2.1-megapixel selfie sidekick, 32GB of expandable storage, and a 3,900 mAh battery. The tablet is also IP67-certified and rocks Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Sharp Aquos Serie SHV32

Last but not least on our list, we have yet another Sharp device. But unlike the rest, the Aquos Serie SHV32 is the smallest of the bunch, with 'just' a 5-inch, 1080 x 1920 IGZO display.

Despite its relatively compact for factor, the SHV32 is no joke. It packs an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor (yes, it's 64-bit in case you were worried), 3 gigs of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, a 13.1-megapixel main camera (2.1-megapixels up front), and a 2,600 mAh cell. The phone runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop is IPX7-certified, meaning it's resistant to water.



1. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

and all these beast fighting in small japanese market :-/ 7 of them use snapdragon 810, and most of them is water-resistant :D

22. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

Japanese products are great when it comes to build quality.

5. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

Funny all these phones are on my banned lists. Regardless it's LG HTC, Japanese branded and Japanese exclusive phones would never recommended to my customers

6. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Why? I'm curious

9. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2280; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Because of politics. Similar to Indo-Pak rivalry, he's reasons are 100% political - Jap-Chinese rivalry - , solely to start the political war. nothing else, just politics.

14. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Probably, but they do accept the B-rape from Apple with overpriced products which makes huge profit margins by letting foxconn make the device for a few bucks per phone and selling it as if it actually costs a lot. Marketing and media will be the downfall of humanity

10. mixedfish

Posts: 1570; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

All your top Chinese phones aren't even on my wish list, nor my friends, nor anyone of my country because they aren't sold here. Why you might ask, because we only support companies we trust to not install spyware.

23. techloverNYC

Posts: 601; Member since: Nov 20, 2012

I don't understand your logic. Don't the Chinese manufacture all the flagship smartphones you guys buy (samsung,apple,etc). I guess since the product move though a middle man that makes it American?

26. Chuck007

Posts: 1419; Member since: Mar 02, 2014

Chinese companies don't exactly have the quality control of it's international counterparts and ridiculously exaggerated specs (battery capacities and their supposedly high-end audio equipment for example). Nearly none of their phones are built to last because of their relatively low pricepoint. Of course, that is generalizing quite a bit cause Motorola phones are excellent but that's usually the case.

12. Kruze

Posts: 1285; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

Can't believe people here are dumb enough to keep replying to trolls. Good job.

16. mixedfish

Posts: 1570; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

You're one to talk :P

17. Chuck007

Posts: 1419; Member since: Mar 02, 2014

Yeah we ought to stop replying to those PATRIOT accounts.

18. T-Dizzle

Posts: 159; Member since: Jul 21, 2015

Does anyone know if the Sharp Aquos PAD SH-05G will work on USA GSM networks?

19. Moose

Posts: 418; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

I love the sound of the Sharp Aquos Xx, too bad about the modest battery. Looks like thin wins over function, style over battery life.

20. ryq24

Posts: 876; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

All seems to be great phones but all are expensive that's why they can't compete in the international market. Might as well go for Samsung or iPhone if the price is the same. Japanese products are not very competetive price wise.

21. fonelover

Posts: 255; Member since: Mar 19, 2015

Qualcomm is giving away SD810 almost free of cost to these non-famous brand just to clear their stock. That is why so many of them using sd810 where Samsung, LG and Moto didn't use that SOC.

32. mjk2804

Posts: 32; Member since: Apr 27, 2015

LG G Flex2 isnt SD810?

24. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

I wanna give Aquos Crystal a try but in Honduras itll never be available.

28. Sealblaighter

Posts: 434; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

But you will be able to buy it via kyoex.

25. tomkins0752

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 30, 2015

This is basically my entire phone wishlist. I did just manage to acquire a HTC Butterfly 3, and it is amazing! I'm using it on AT&T, and while there is only 1 compatible LTE band active, this phone always seems to have a grip in it. More so than any other phone I currently have.

27. SirYar

Posts: 351; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

That 5inch 1080p model with SD810 looks very attractive.

29. Af1rPA

Posts: 712; Member since: Jun 12, 2014

The LG looks great with the matte finish plastic. They should have made that an option for the G4 instead of the glossy plastic.

30. willywanta

Posts: 502; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

I thought the japanese are fond of iphone

31. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

5.5-inch 1080p IGZO display, SD810 processor, 3 GB RAM, 13MP snapper with OIS, fingerprint scanner, IP57-certified, powered by a 3,000 mAh battery, with a body-to-screen ratio of 78% why other company didnt make something like Sharp Aquos ZETA SH-03G :-/

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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