Finally a 4K smartphone screen arrives on the scene! Thanks to Sharp Electronics

by on April 14, 2015

Stephan Jukic – April 14, 2015

Japanese electronics giant and 4K TV maker Sharp has announced the first ever smartphone screen that’s capable of showing images in 4K ultra HD resolution. Considering that 4K smartphone screens have been a widely circulated upcoming rumor since at least early 2014, it’s interesting to finally see that a potential commercial version is here.

The screen measures just 5.5 inches and with its resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, packs a whopping 806 pixels per inch of screen space! This completely outclasses Samsung’s Galaxy S6 with its 577ppi on a slightly smaller display screen.

Furthermore, to give some basis for comparison, the Apple MacBook Air with Retina, which has an ultra-sharp above-HD screen resolution, only packs a pixel density of 227 ppi in the 13-inch model and 220ppi in the 15-inch model.

Thus, if you want to see how higher resolution offers crisper detail, you can’t really beat the new Sharp screen with anything else on the market, even an 8K ultra HD TV, whose ppi wouldn’t go beyond 300 or so ppi at most.

One of Sharp's earlier experiments in near-4K smartphone resolution

One of Sharp’s earlier experiments in near-4K smartphone resolution

However, there is also a catch here. The human eye can really appreciate only so much clarity before higher PPI levels make no discernable difference. Even a resolution difference between 2K and 4K on a TV screen is very difficult to distinguish as far as even human eyes with perfect vision are concerned. Thus, the pixel density on the Sharp screen is in a category on its own, especially if you consider that human eyes cannot discern pixels at densities of more than 280 to 300 ppi.

Other problems with the use of 4K in smartphone display include the drain it would cause on battery power. However, Sharp’s solution to this is something called IGZO, (Indium, gallium, zinc, oxide) screen technology, which is supposed to be far more power efficient than the more typical silicon-based LCD screens of most other smartphones and tablets.

On the other hand, there is merit to a 4K smartphone screen. Given that most flagship UHD phones can now film video in full 4K resolution, it only makes logical sense that they should also be able to display in the same. Furthermore, once consumers become aware of 4K screens for smartphones actually being available, some will buy them, never mind that their eyes can’t tell the difference between the 4K resolution and something closer to 2K like that found in the Samsung S6’s current screen.

Don’t hold your breath for Sharp’s new screens quite yet though. The company doesn’t plan to put them into mass production until 2016 and expects some of its first commercial consumers to include Chinese smartphone makers.

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