Sharp announced today that it has started manufacturing 5″ high-definition LCD panels for smartphones with a full 1,080 x 1,920 pixels — and an astonishing pixel density of 443 pixels per inch.
Just two months ago the Osaka, Japan-based company announced that it was shipping smartphone screens to Apple, presumably for the iPhone 5. Those screens are 4″ screens, with a 326 pixel per inch image.
These new screens, which Sharp will display at CREATEC conference in Japan tomorrow, have only one obvious intended purpose: Android-based phones. Android-based phones such as the Galaxy S3 have significantly larger screens than even the iPhone 5 at 4.8 inches.
Where the 5″ screens will be used is not clear, but Samsung would clearly be a valuable client as the largest manufacturer of Android-based phones. And the pixel density would set any clients up well for competition with Apple’s iPhone, beating iPhone’s pixel density by over 100 pixels per inch.
One valid question: can Android even support such a high pixel density? Android’s developer resources reference screen densities up to “xhdpi,” which Android defines as in the 300 pixels per inch range. The developer resources say nothing about 400+ pixel density screens.
Sharp is desperate to find new revenue streams, as the company had a disastrous last quarter and is on track for a $3.18 billion loss this fiscal year. The company is cutting 11,000 jobs — a move of desperation for most Japan-based firms — and is selling production plants in Mexico, China, and Malaysia.
The new screens employ CG-Silicon (continuous-grain silicon) technology that enables small screens with fewer layers and high resolutions, while increasing manufacturing yield, developed by Sharp and a Japanese partner.