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Sharp Galapagos 3D phone popping out in Japan, doesn't need glasses

Sharp 3D smart phones have made it to market, packing Android 2.2 technology and some classic games. But as yet, it's only available in Japan.

Our admiration of Japan knows no bounds -- we frequently wish we lived in the land of vending machines and tentacle porn. Chalk up another reason to move east: two Sharp Android 2.2 smart phones that offer no-glasses 3D visuals in the style of the Nintendo 3DS.

Sharp has rolled out two mighty-sounding Galapagos 3D handsets in Japan, the touchscreen-only 003SH and the Qwerty keyboard-packing 005SH. Both have 3.8-inch LCD screens and a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, powering Android 2.2 Froyo. They have impressive sounding cameras too, the touchscreen version with 9.6 megapixels and the Qwerty one 8 megapixels, capable of shooting 720p video. And they'll have a user interface called TapFlow skinning the Android software.

But it's the 3D stuff you really want to know about. The 3.8-inch displays will use 3D technology similar to Nintendo's forthcoming handheld. The screens use what's called a parallax barrier, making each eye see a slightly different image. This creates a stereoscopic display -- an image your brain perceives as 3D.

Doing it the Sharp and Nintendo way, without headgear, is called autostereoscopy. The only problem is you have to keep your head reasonably steady in front of the screen to see the 3D image. This isn't good for 3D TVs, but for small handheld screens it's definitely workable.

The Sharp Galapagos phones will be able to run 3D games and video, and take 3D photos. They'll also be able to convert 2D movies and images to 3D. They'll come packaged with three 3D versions of classic Capcom games: Resident Evil, Ghosts n' Goblins, and everybody's favourite blue gun-armed superhero Mega Man.

The billion-yen question is whether they'll make it over here. Sharp isn't exactly a household name when it comes to smart phones in the UK, but we're already a little in lust with that 3D technology and see some potential. What do you think?