Race is on for thinner mobile phone screens

Sharp has developed a prototype display intended to mobile phones that is less than a millimeter thick.

The race is on to come up with the world's thinnest cell phone screen.

This week, both Japan's Sharp and Taiwan's AU Optronics (AUO) said they had developed prototype displays that are less than a millimeter thick.

The Sharp LCD (liquid crystal display) measures 2.2-inches across the diagonal and is just 0.68 millimeters thick making it the thinnest mobile phone screen in the world, the company said. Coming in just behind in the AUO screen, which is a 1.9-inch model that's just 0.69 millimeters thick.

The screens used in most of today's phones are on-average between 1.5 millimeters and 2.5 millimeters thick so the new Sharp screen is significantly thinner, said Miyuki Nakayama, a spokeswoman for Sharp in Tokyo.

Sharp is coy about just how it managed to reduce the thickness but said innovations lay in two major areas: improvements in production technology that enable the use of thinner glass sheet and a reduction in the thickness of the backlight that sits behind the screen.

Thinner mobile phone screens are good news for consumers because they allow phone makers to either produce slimmer phones or to pack more technology into the same size space. Some recent phone models have been getting larger in-part because of the addition of new features like digital TV tuners and smartcards.

However there's no word from Sharp on when the screen might start appearing in mobile phones. The company is currently in talks with phone makers and hasn't decided when it will start production, said Nakayama.

The svelte screens will get their unveiling at FPD Expo, which runs from Wednesday to Friday Pacific time, in Japan.

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Martyn Williams

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