Samsung may or may not be planning to cram an Ultra HD display in its upcoming Galaxy Note 5 smartphone. But sooner or later someone is probably going to release a smartphone with a 3840 x 2160 pixel display… and while there are no phones yet, phone-sized displays are certainly on the way.

Sharp has just unveiled a new 5.5 inch, Ultra HD display with 806 pixels per inch.

sharp 806

The new screen is a 5.5 inc, 3840 x 2160 pixel LCD display that uses IGZO technology. It’s expected to ship in 2016.

Right now the highest-resolution phones have 2560 x 1440 pixel screens, which some folks would argue is already overkill for a screen smaller than 6 inches. But when I asked you recently what the best resolution for a 5.8 inch smartphone was, hundreds of people weighed in — and more than half of you voted for 2560 x 1440 pixels or 3840 x 2160 pixels.

pixel vote

One point that some folks raised is that you might not need that many pixels for text and graphics to look good on a small screen. But it’s still a good idea to have a smartphone with the same pixel count as your TV because it means you’ll be able to watch the same 4K video file on both your phone and your TV without losing any detail (and without needing two different copies of the same file: one high-res version for your TV and a lower-res version for your phone).

Sure, the phone will have a much higher pixel density than your big-screen TV. But you’ll also hold it a lot closer to your face, unless you’re the sort of person who likes to sit 18 inches from your TV.

Another application of high-resolution smartphone displays? Virtual reality. Pop a phone into a virtual reality headset like the Samsung Gear VR and it’s right in front of your eyeballs… so the sharper the screen, the harder it will be to tell the difference between reality and virtual reality.

In light of that, maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised by the results of our poll… or that Sharp (and maybe Samsung or other companies) are planning to bring more pixels to our smartphones in the coming years.


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10 replies on “Sharp introduces a 5.5 inch, 3840 x 2160 pixel display”

  1. There’s always the group of people that screams “I don’t need it! I’m fine with what I have now!”… but we all need to realize that it’s stuff like these that pushes technology forward. Without these companies pushing boundaries, we’d all be using 4:3 CRT monitors and flip phones.

  2. I wish they’d focus more on sunlight readability instead of pixel density i’d rather have a 720p display that i could read in direct sunlight than a 4k display that you can’t read in sunlight

  3. The only application I can imagine would currently benefit from that type of pixel density is an electronic viewfinder for a camera. That, and if they develop VR contact lenses…

  4. I don’t mind ultra-HD, if it doesn’t hurt the rest, especially the battery and screen drawing speed in apps/web. Which, unfortunately, it does. I’ll stick to a sensible definition, with a good battery life and a snappy phone instead.

  5. Watching 4K video on your phone is silly. A) It takes up 4X the space. B) Too actually “not lose any detail” (from your eyes) you will have to hold the phone 4″ from your face (which will look silly).

  6. Somehow I picture that vote went to Samsung headquarters where every office worker had to vote for their upcoming phone’s resolution to justify it’s existence. That, or I’m very disappointed in the liliputing reader base’s capability of logical thinking…

  7. Hot damn! that’s allot of ppi. I wonder how much backlight they need to push the image trough. Even in an IGZO panel, is going to be something spectacular, and probably in need of cooling to get any decent nits out of it. The LG G3 proved that high rez LCDs have to throttle down brightness to fit in with the thermal design of a portable device.

  8. Aside from, say, graphics tablets, what could be the reason for such high pixel density?
    I mean, can you tell apart 300/400ppi versus 500-800ppi from up close?

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