Sharp bringing high-def IGZO screens to smartphones

The company will start production of high-def smartphone screens this year

Sharp's Aquos Phone EX with IGZO screen

Sharp's Aquos Phone EX with IGZO screen

Sharp has started mass production of its high-definition IGZO screens for smartphones, which could lead to crisper and sharper displays on the phone in your pocket.

IGZO, named after the indium gallium zinc oxide semiconductor on which it is based, is a Sharp-developed technology that features smaller pixels than current LCD (liquid crystal display) screens. The smaller pixels mean more can be crammed into the same space so screens become higher definition.

The first screens are already being produced and will be included in two phones Sharp plans to put on sale in Japan in the coming months.

The Aquos Phone Zeta SH-01F has a 5-inch IGZO screen with full HD (1920 by 1080 pixel) resolution. A second phone, the Aquos Phone EX SH-02F, packs the same number of pixels into a 4.7-inch screen. That will go on sale in early 2014, and the resolution works out to 487 pixels per inch.

By comparison, the 4-inch Retina display in Apple's iPhone 5S has a 1136 by 640 pixel resolution screen, for 326ppi.

With mass production beginning, Sharp will be hoping that the market for such high-definition screens continues to grow with the surging popularity of smartphones.

IGZO faces competition from a number of other technologies, such as OLED (organic light-emitting diode) and new developments on LCD technology that allow the screens to be gently curved.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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