Sharp IS03: 3.5-inch 960×640 ASV LCD

Sharp’s IS03 for Japan’s KDDI au packs a 3.5-inch Advanced Super View (ASV) TFT LCD with a 960×640 pixel format. ASV is based on Vertical Alignment (VA) technology, which also is the basis for Samsung’s PVA. The increase in pixel density is quite welcome but I don’t see a clear reasoning for Sharp’s decision to go 960×640.

The reason why Apple went to 960×640 on the iPhone 4 is simple. By quadrupling the number of pixels from 480×320 to 960×640 all the apps that have been built for previous generation iPhones can be used and they will look the same. It is just that a single old pixel on the app is comprised of 2×2 new pixels.

But that’s not the case with Android.

I’m not sure exactly what Android supports as its default pixel format but it seems to be 800×480. Or 854×480 in most Motorola Android phones. Going from 800×480 to 960×640 is not a matter of simply doubling pixels. Going from 800 to 960 is a factor of 1.2. Going from 480 to 640 is a factor of 1.33. This is because 800×480 has an aspect ratio of 15:9. The 854×480 pixel format is 16:9. And 960×640, the pixel format on Sharp’s IS03 and Apple’s iPhone 4, is 3:2.

Existing Android apps on the Sharp IS03 won’t look as great as you think exactly because of all those pixels. If you’re a developer you’ll need to make 960×640-specific apps, in addition to all the other pixel formats, and if you don’t your app will look good on one Android phone and not-so-good on another. I am sure the pixel scaling algorithm on Android 2.1 is decent but it won’t be as good as apps that are coded to exactly match the underlying pixels.

The IS03 sports a 9.6 megapixel autofocus camera with image stabilization. Your initial reaction might be, “Wow! Nine point six megapixels!” The camera guys have seen the light and has gotten off the megapixel race and instead is focusing photo quality not how many megapixels the image sensor packs. It seems Sharp’s smartphone folks didn’t get the memo. At least Sharp knows how to make smartphones in white. Source: KDDI au