Sharp to launch first phone with IGZO screen, amid iPad mini rumors

The Japanese company is pitching the long battery life of its Aquos Phone Zeta phone, due to the IGZO display

Sharp said Thursday it will soon launch a smartphone with its new IGZO display, a power-efficient technology that allows the device to last two days on a single charge and that is rumored to be Apple's choice for its upcoming tablets.

Sharp's new Aquos Phone Zeta is scheduled to go on sale in Japan by the end of this year on the network of NTT DoCoMo, the country's largest operator. The phone's main selling point will be its 4.9-inch screen, the first to use the IGZO technology, named after the indium gallium zinc oxide semiconductor on which it is based.

The company said the phone, which has a 2,320mAh battery, will last two days under normal use, including sending mail and using apps. Apple's iPhone 5 has a 1,400mAh battery, while Samsung's Galaxy S3 is equipped with a 2,100mAh battery.

"This is one of the key features of the phone," said spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama. "We're still testing (battery life) ahead of the launch in November or December."

IGZO can be used to make screens with smaller pixels than current screens, drawing less power and providing more accurate touch sensitivity. Sharp said the screens on its new phones will also be able to actively limit their refresh rate when displaying fixed images, greatly increasing battery life. The bright touchscreens on modern phones and tablets are a major reason they need to be recharged so often.

News reports have repeatedly said Apple is leaning toward using IGZO in future products, including a rumored smaller version of its iPad tablet with a 7-inch screen. Sharp is a known supplier of screens for Apple devices, and the company showed tablet displays in 7-inch, 10-inch, and 13-inch form factors at its booth last week at the CEATEC electronics show outside of Tokyo.

The Aquos Phone Zeta has a 16 megapixel camera and a 1.50GHz quad-core CPU that the company says is optimized to save power.

Many features of the Zeta, such as unlocking, launching apps, and taking pictures, can be operated by voice commands. The phone listens for commands after being tapped on its rear surface, meant for situations when touch commands are difficult. It also uses vibrations in the screen in place of a speaker when used for phone calls.

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