On eve of Apple launch event, Japan's Sharp says IGZO devices set to surge

The Japanese manufacturer is betting big on IGZO display technology, which it says can triple battery life in smartphones

Japan's Sharp said Tuesday that mobile devices using its new IGZO display technology, which can triple battery life while offering higher touch sensitivity, are about to surge.

The company decline to provide specific details, but Sharp executive Masami Ohbatake told reporters in Tokyo that the two devices already announced with the technology would soon be joined by many more. In recent weeks, Sharp has announced a smartphone and a small tablet for the Japanese market that have screens employing IGZO, named after the indium gallium zinc oxide semiconductor on which it is based.

The tablet has a 1280 by 800 pixel, 7-inch IGZO display. It has drawn attention ahead of an Apple press event set for Tuesday in the U.S., which is widely expected to announce a smaller version of the iPad tablet with a screen of about the same size. Sharp is a known supplier to Apple, and some rumors have said the new "iPad mini" will use IGZO technology.

IGZO can be used to make screens with smaller pixels than current screens, drawing less power and providing greater accuracy. Sharp says its new Aquos Phone Zeta, scheduled to go on sale by the end of this year, can last two days on a single charge of its 2,320mAh battery under normal usage. Its Aquos Pad tablet, to go on sale in early December, can play video back for 10 hours without a recharge.

Sharp, which is struggling through a management crisis as it tries to finalize an investment deal with electronics giant Hon Hai, is betting big on IGZO. The company is increasing production of display panels for mobile devices that use the technology as part of its shift away from large TV panels, where price competition is much more severe.

The company, which sells few phones abroad, is a major manufacturer of domestic models under its "Aquos" brand, though it has recently lagged behind local rivals such as Fujitsu and Kyocera as well as foreign competitors like Apple and Samsung.

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Tags Appleconsumer electronicssharpsmartphonesComponentsHandhelds / PDAsdisplays

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