Sharp reveals a ridiculous 5.5-inch 4K display, but will smartphones ever need that much?


sharp office

The display arms race has been underway since companies decided Quad HD was the new high-end standard last year, but Sharp says that isn’t enough — displays need to be even more rich and dense than they currently are. The company today announced the development of a 5.5-inch display at a whopping 4K resolution. That’s 3,860 x 2,160 pixels if you aren’t aware, and stuffing all of that into a 5.5-inch form factor stands to bring you a pixel density of 806ppi.

That’s far higher than what the human eye is said to be able to notice, and it should make for a display quality that’s absolutely out of this world. Sharp touted the use of “IGZO” technology that is able to produce a richer picture while using significantly less power, something we imagine was important considering the batteries for the types of devices that these displays will be used for aren’t quite fit to handle such a thing.

A 4K display at this size is seen to be quite useless, though there are many benefits to be had for technologies such as virtual reality where a rich pixel density helps immerse you into whichever virtual world you’re whisked to. We imagine VR will be the initial and primary market for this sort of display, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see smartphone manufacturers wanting to use it just for the sake of saying no other smartphone’s resolution can beat theirs.

We’ll have to wait for its arrival in an actual device to see if there are any significant drawbacks to using the display (such as being more taxing on a mobile processor or sucking a battery dry before the sun sets), but it’ll have to wait as Sharp doesn’t expect to ship these displays until sometime next year.


Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. If there are not drawbacks to battery life, go for it.

    1. A manufacturer can dream.

    2. Hope you’re not a game player as it will kill frame rates and the GPU will eat the battery even if the screen itself doesn’t.

  2. Only potential benefit is better resolution for virtual reality headsets. Otherwise, 2k is enough for all phones (even phablets). Tablets I can see benefiting from 4k though.

    1. My 8.9″ HDX looks stunning at 2560×1600

  3. Just reflecting while i read this: look @how far mobile has become. I remember only a few years back a friend & I we’re talking about how we couldn’t believe that quad-core cpu were coming to mobile???? Wow. & now, like the exynos 7420(& very soon, meaning few months MORE powerful SOCs per mobile will be out)…. Its crazy. I do heating&air for living but i love mobile tech/trends sooo much that id change careers ,start from the bottom just to work in the mobile industry.

  4. Galaxy S7: 4K screen 2000mHA battery, charge in 5 minutes. need to be charge 10x times per day.

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  5. Anything over 1080p is massive overkill for phones and tablets. If 1080p is good enough for my 42″ TV, then it’s more than good enough for my 5.5″ phone. If that tech they are using is so great on power at 4k resolution, imagine how much better it would be at “just” 1080p.

    1. Its a question of viewing distance. At 7+ feet away, your 1080p 42″ screen looks great. At 10-14 inches (like we hold our phones), you would see nothing but pixels… But yes, this is WAY overkill for a phone. A phone at 10-14 inches, is more than fine at 1440p, but I dont actually see where they said this is going in a phone. If its intended target is VR glasses that may go 2-4 inches from your eyes then its a good fit at 2160p

  6. I give credit to Huawei for sticking with a 1080P display in their Mediapad X2, which has a 7 inch display and a 5,000 mAh battery. Yes, crazy high pixel densities are needed for turning your phone into a VR headset, but realistically I think that 99% of phone owners have no plans or desire to do such a thing. In the mean time the extra procession power is draining the battery and slowing down performance and from the distance that most people hold their phones 300 PPI is plenty.

    1. Preach it, brother!

  7. Mr. President, we can not afford to have a mine shaft gap!

    Dr. Strangelove

    1. Hmm… Strangelove? What kind of a name is that? That ain’t no Kraut name is it, Stainesey?

      1. Seriously, go look up Dr Strangelove, then come back. Better yet, go watch the movie.

        1. Considering that I just quoted it…

          1. I wondered after posting that if my irony generator wasn’t set too high. It’s late over here, everything is funny!

  8. Of course we don’t NEED it. We don’t NEED more than half the stuff phones have provided us for a while now, but it’s just technology advancing. What we NEED to make such things be useful is the battery to last with it. This will chew through a 3000+ batt. We need new technology that can last longer. Not just a bigger battery. It’s good to know Google is working in that area as we speak. I’m sure in some point of time there will be new battery technology that can work with such features.

    Obviously this isn’t the feature you’re looking for in your device if you think its useless, but I still think its cool from a point of view as far as mobile devices have came. It was just exciting to have a cellphone at one point.

    1. Technological advancement has a ways to go when it comes to screen tech, but it’s not in the pixel arena. That’s a war that’s been won because the human eye simply can’t differentiate the pixels at this level. We need to stop fighting that one and look more at color accuracy, contrast ratios, and terminal brightness levels.

  9. do we need that much? No.

    Do i want 4k display on my phone? Yes please!

  10. if “need” was the driving factor on advancing smartphones then all advances would’ve stopped at the OG Droid. That phone technically did everything you would need a smartphone to do.

    1. In a slow and bulky fashion. What we’re talking about here is something that can’t even be seen. Can I tell the difference between my HTC G1 photos and my LG G3 photos? Yes, because we have a legitimate leap in technology, including sensor backlighting, physical size, flash inclusion, OIS, and MP’s. What we have here, though, is taking pixels that ALREADY can’t be seen by the naked eye and making them even smaller. It literally serves no purpose. Improvements in contrast ratios, terminal brightness levels, color gamut…those are the things I can get behind. I can’t fathom the need for smaller pixels unless you have 20/10 vision and hold your phone 4 inches from your face routinely.

  11. I think we’re all forgetting VR headsets that use your smartphone to drive the visuals. We need more pixels for that.

    1. Can’t say I agree with you there. I can’t differentiate pixels on my LG G3. I can slowly draw it closer to my face until I lose all focus in my vision, and I can never see a pixel in the place that matters the most…the status bar. That’s where you can be 100% certain that the display is being used at full resolution, with no pixelation from a photo or a low-res icon leading you astray.

      1. Holding it to your face is not the same as using with a VR headset. Pixels are clearly evident with my Nexus 6 in a VR headset.

        1. Well, at 5.5″, the difference in pixel density for the LG G3 means that there are 7 extra horizontal and 7 extra vertical lines on every single inch of the phone. That would be enough…but here comes Sharp with nearly quadruple the resolution per inch, because it’s nearly double in both directions.

  12. Quad HD is already overkill, this will decimate battery and performance.

  13. People assume you can’t see pixels on such a high ppi but it depends on your distance to the display. I could see this being very practical in a VR headset where your eyes are inches from the display.

  14. The higher the resolution the better… Its not about battery life as to say Android becoming a better optimized system to run longer with the battery capacity we currently have .

    1. This is…insane. It’s no better because you simply can’t see it. They’re continuing to fight a war that was won over a year ago. Instead of focusing on screen quality in things like color and contrast, they’re continuing to make the already-too-small-to-see pixels even smaller.

  15. Have you picked up an HTC EVO lately …. I was awe-inspired by that ! How far we came from those days …

    1. Facebook Memories showed me a post I made 5 years ago. I was happy to see the HTC HD2. LoL!! Talk about a trip down memory lane.

      I remember when people were saying that the HTC HD2 was an overly-sized phone and it was large. That was a 4-inch screen phone.

      1. exactly lmao. when a friend of mines bought the HD2 everyone said it was way too big and compared it to a remote.

  16. Yes!! I don’t need it, but I want it. LoL!!

  17. How do you spell B-a-t-t-e-r-y D-r-a-i-n?

    1. I’m spelling it S-H-A-R-P.

  18. Sure why not they power VR and higher the rez the better

    1. No, resolution is already there with a 5.5″ 2k handset. The displays need more realistic colors, contrasts, etc…that’s the REAL next frontier.

  19. Which OEM(s) source their display from SHARP? Sounds exciting.

  20. Big booty butt cheeks in 4K. Mmmmm Poano

  21. as long as they put a 4-5k battery in it

  22. Resolution so high, it will cut your eye. That’s why they’re Sharp, not Dull. ;)

  23. Need more battery, not rez.

  24. For me the resolution 2560×1440 on my Note4 is enough, even with a six inch display this would be enough. But if the smartphone didn’t need more power and if the price remain the same, why not?

    1. More pixels will -=Always=- require more CPU and battery.

      1. always is just wrong: If we compare displays with 640×480 resolution from five years ago with displays from today which have 1980×1080 resolutio you may find that the battery drain is not very different. You always have to consider not just one point of the comparison….
        So it’s clear that today displays with 2560×1440 pixel need less energy than a display with the double resolution, but we didn’t have the higher resolution today. So you have to compare a display from today with a display from the future. I’m pretty sure that the used power is nearly the same (Ok, the reason is that the displays from today seldom will further developed as new displays…..
        Easy answers are mostly not correct….

  25. Opinions may differ but I personally think 1080p resolution is more than enough for a smartphone. Manufacturers need to focus on battery life, not pushing more pixels onto a screen. It’s the old megapixel competition wars they had on cameras. Stupid consumers need to vote with their wallets but sadly so many consumers are stupid idiots and falling for manufacturers PR and marketing crap. I long for the day that manufacturers start pushing battery life and 1up’ing each other on run time (something we can all benefit from).

  26. Honestly, 1080p is fine. I have an s6 edge and an m9 and other than the difference in color temperature, I can’t see any difference in actual screen detail.

  27. “use it just for the sake of saying no other smartphone’s resolution can beat theirs.” Yup, ‘mine is bigger’.
    So I’ll end up with a 4K smartphone before a 4K TV. Hell, this year I may already be surpassing my 1080P TV.

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