3D Smartphones: The Next Big Thing In Mobile?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on November 10, 2010

3D HDTVs are all the rage these days and therefore it’s unsurprising that manufacturers like Sharp are hell-bent to cash in on the opportunity to bring a similar “3D” experience to smartphones. Japan’s Softbank and Sharp on Thursday unveiled smartphones that enable users to enjoy three-dimensional photos, videos and games without the need to wear special glasses. NTT Docomo Inc said Monday that it would launch Sharp Corp’s Lynx 3D smartphone this winter.

Though Sharp is projecting “glasses-free 3D displays” for smartphones as the next big thing in mobile, do we really need 3D display technology in our smartphones? Or is it just another case of the pre-launch media hype and no substance?

Softbank Mobile said it would release a 3D-capable Galapagos Sharp 003SH smartphone in early December and another lower-end model – the 005SH to follow in mid-February. Both devices feature a 3.8-inch 800-by-480 pixel liquid crystal display screen and use the same autostereoscopic technology as the glasses-free 3D display on the upcoming Nintendo 3DS. Both devices are expected to run Froyo and Flash. They both have high-end cameras – while the 003SH has a 9.6 megapixel camera, the 005SH slider version has an 8 megapixel camera. NTT Docomo’s offering – The Lynx 3D will run on Froyo as well and is likely to pose stiff competition to Softbank Mobile Corp’s Galapagos.

With record-breaking quarterly profit figures, Softbank has ample cash in the bag. However, are 3D-smartphones a sound investment? It’s tough to say. After all, the carrier took a gamble to become the exclusive carrier of Apple’s iPhone in Japan and the move paid off big-time. As our fellow blogger Matt Klassen pointed out, Apple’s iPhone is no longer Japan’s best selling phone and has been dethroned by he Samsung Galaxy S, therefore it’s understandable that Softbank is not banking on its current laurels and trying to gain a first-mover advantage in the 3D-smartphone segment.

The important question here is – Are we ready for 3D-smartphones? Do we really need them? And I’m certainly not the only one asking these questions. 3D technology has always sounded a rosy prospect on paper but manufacturers have found it hard to bring concepts to life.  A 3.8-inch display screen might sound large but it’s certainly not good enough for providing a quality 3D experience. While I applaud Sharp’s vision and technological innovation, I’m not sure if 3D smartphones will live up to the hype of being “the next big thing in mobile”.

As a technology purist, I’m glad to know that 3D smartphones will soon be a reality. My only concern is that it may end up as a product which has no market. What do you think? Will 3D-smartphones be the next wave of revolution in the mobile world? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS>, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jordan Richardson November 10, 2010 at 1:43 am

3D TVs are hardly “all the rage.” Manufacturers may be making them, but customers aren’t buying them at all. Only 2% of all flat-panel televisions sold this year were 3D enabled units. Customers are citing cost and a lack of decent 3D content as reasons for not jumping on the bandwagon. Then there’s the diminished overall quality and the expense of filming or creating content in 3D.

3D has consistently failed over the years because most people want the 3D experience to be a unique one, not something they digest everyday. Yet companies repeatedly try it out, hoping that one day it’ll catch on en masse. It won’t. And it especially won’t catch on in the smart phone sector.

That leaves aside the pure scientific angle on 3D visuals, too. Our brains simply don’t process images that way and it requires a whole lot of extra mental gymnastics to deal with the stimuli effectively. I know that many phone-makers function on what they perceive as the trends, but hopefully a little actual research will turn this ship of fools around before they waste even more money.

Stuart Hollington November 10, 2010 at 5:16 am

Totally agree with you that 3d on a big screen is best, same for normal movies as well, in a multi billion industry many phone companies years ago decided to put movies on mobiles and guess what, they sold. 3D in your pocket is going to be a fab thing, having 3d movies on the phone is only half of it, 3d camera,3d gaming and 3d web etc… will make up the other half. The 3ds has a screen the size of most Smartphones and is set for big things, only difference being the smartphone will be able to make calls (The only thing i think the 3ds cant do). 3D mobiles will be massive and cheaper to buy than the average £1000 3DTV, not everyone has that kind of money plus the additional 3d bluray player ( add another £250 to that total). Spending £200 (Or getting it FREE on contract) on a 3d Smartphone or a 3d console will allow everyone to afford a piece of 3D magic GLASSES FREE, come on, none believers beware

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