We’ve seen some great smartphone screens lately thanks to Samsung's newest flagship phone. Yet a new offering from Sharp tries to blow past it with some out-of-this-world specs.
Sharp has revealed a 5.5-inch display with a whopping 3840 by 2160 resolution. Its density of 806 pixels per inch is way beyond the Galaxy S6, which has a 1560x1440 screen with 577 PPI.
This sounds impressive on paper, but the devil's in the details. Sharp says its IGZO panel uses “low power consumption,” but we’re a little skeptical of what that phrase actually means in this case. Lower than what? There's always a tradeoff between resolution, brightness, and power use.
Considering that Sharp says it won't mass-produce the display until 2016, this sounds like a tease to get some publicity for its efforts rather than a presentation of a working model. Considering that 4K is only now starting to hit the mainstream in televisions, there has to be a lot of work still to do to ensure a screen like that doesn’t destroy a phone’s battery life.
Sharp has dabbled with unique smartphone specs before, introducing a nearly bezel-free Aquos Crystal phone last year.
Why this matters: There's really no need for smartphone display to offer a density greater than 500 pixels per inch—that's already well beyond what your eyes can resolve at the distance one typically uses a smartphone.
A 5.5-inch 4K display could be really useful in VR headsets where the display is right up next to your eyes, and stretched across your field of view. Sharp says its display uses IGZO technology, which means it could be either LCD or OLED. IGZO is a technology to produce smaller, more efficient transistors that control whether pixels are on or off. It can be used in LCD, e-paper, or OLED displays. If this new display is OLED, it could be well-suited to VR headsets.
We’ll keep an eye out as Sharp gives more details about what it’s up to with this crazy, super-high density new display.