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Sharp 3D smart phone coming by end of 2010

The Japanese giant will hope its new smart phone with glasses-free 3D is not a gimmick, but rather a game-changer with practical uses

Sharp will enter the three-dimensional fray with a 3D smart phone by the end of the year, taking inspiration from the Nintendo 3DS, which showed that 3D can be done without headache-inducing glasses.

Sharp said its phone would feature a 3D panel that didn't require special glasses and will also "likely" have a 3D camera, Reuters reports. The firm didn't say which OS the handset would use.

Sharp is Japan's biggest mobile phone manufacturer, but globally it doesn't have any real footprint when it comes to smart phones. It will hope this could change all that.

It developed 3D panel technology some time ago that didn't use glasses, but could only really work for small devices. As anybody who has used the Nintendo 3DS prototype will know, 3D without glasses only works if you are looking from a fixed distance and angle.

This is unworkable on a TV or cinema screen, but when it comes to a handheld gadget like a mobile phone, it's achievable. And as the 3DS showed, you can dial down the 3D effect when you need to.

Samsung was first off the blocks to announce a 3D phone, with the W960 back in May. That'll be limited to South Korea, however.

3D in all shapes and forms is what tech companies are now betting the house on. With 3D and that other great attractor of hype, the smart phone, what could go wrong for Sharp?

A good deal, potentially. 3D has often been looked upon as a gimmick. Unless the Sharp smart phone has functionality that makes it competitive with the likes of the iPhone or the HTC Desire, that will be the case here.

And so far Sharp hasn't had much luck in the global market. It was the company that worked with Microsoft on the Kin smart phone, which was disastrously discontinued only a few weeks after its launch.

With competition coming from more Androids, BlackBerry devices running a new OS, Windows Phone 7 and of course the iPhone 4, it will be a massive achievement if Sharp is able to even compete.