A new era of smartphone design is underway. Bezels are going the way of the dodo and striking bezel-less designs with edge-to-edge screens are becoming the norm amongst flagship smartphones.A lot of people credit this development to the Xiaomi Mi Mix – a smartphone that paved the way for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6. Now Apple is also set to join the bezel-less party with the iPhone 8 which is widely expected to sport an edge-to-edge OLED display.Without taking any credit away from the Xiaomi Mi Mix, which is a spectacular feat of engineering, there was a smartphone which introduced the world to bezel-less screens way before the Xiaomi Mi Mix, the LG G6 or the Samsung Galaxy S8.Yes, I am talking about the Sharp Aquos Crystal – the bezel-less smartphone that the world forgot about. While the smartphone came with fairly middling specifications – a Snapdragon 400 processor, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a 2,040mAh battery – it had a design that was far ahead of the competition at the time.The Sharp Aquas Crystal featured a nearly bezel-less design that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an episode of The Jetsons. The smartphone’s 5-inch 720p edge-to-edge display was angled at the edges in a way which made it look like a precious stone.Just like the Xiaomi Mi Mix, Sharp had to do away with the front earpiece in order to accommodate the screen. Sharp included what they call a Direct Wave Receiver, which basically turned the entire front glass panel into an earpiece. (It conveyed sound through vibrations). The company moved the front camera as well to the area underneath the display in order to alleviate space for the screen.advertisement It does not matter that the Aquos Crystal came with fairly low end hardware, what matters is the fact that it introduced the world to a design ethos which three years later is fast becoming the norm.The smartphone was not a concept with a limited release like the Mi Mix. It had a full commercial rollout. What is even more impressive is the fact that the device was not a China or Japan exclusive, but was released in the United States as well. The smartphone even came with Harman Kardon audio.Companies like Samsung, LG and Xiaomi have us believe that such a design is difficult to manufacture and will remain in the realm of flagships for the foreseeable future. However, the Sharp Aquas Crystal brought this kind of design to the market three years ago at a fairly affordable price of $239.Imagine that, a smartphone with the same striking bezel-less design found on today’s pricey flagships could be bought three years ago for approximately 20,000 rupees. It would be great if in the coming months, companies like Samsung or LG can release mid-range or even budget smartphones with their new bezel-less designs.There was even a higher-end variant of the Aquos Crystal on offer called the Sharp Aquas Crystal X which sadly never made it out of Japan. It came with a 5.5-inch 1080p edge-to-edge display, the Snapdragon 801 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and a 2,160mAh battery.It does not matter whether the device was a commercial success or not, or that it had a few issues and fairly low end hardware, what really matters is the fact that it introduced the world to a design ethos which three years later is fast becoming the norm. It was a trendsetter, a phone far ahead of the time that deserves its place in the history books.The next time you are looking at your Galaxy S8, mesmerised at the beautiful “Infinity Display”, or looking at the Mi Mix in wonder due to its “edge-less screen”, do give a thought to the diminutive Sharp smartphone that started it all.