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Sharp unveils foldable smartphone, aims to put on sale in few years

Sharp unveils to the press a foldable smartphone prototype in Tokyo on April 10, 2019. (Kyodo)

OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Sharp Corp. unveiled a prototype of its first foldable smartphone on Wednesday, aiming to commercialize it in a few years' time, as it followed Chinese and South Korean rivals in introducing next-generation mobile technologies.

Sharp is using organic electroluminescence panels for the new smartphone's display, which can be made thinner than liquid crystal displays with higher-precision pictures. The company said the product has cleared 300,000 folding tests.

"The product's strong point is that it can be carried by folding it. I think there is demand for it," said an official of the Osaka-based manufacturer, which came under the control of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. of Taiwan in 2016.

A foldable smartphone is believed to be suited to watching videos as it has a bigger screen when opened. But the high price of the device remains a challenge for widespread adoption.

Chinese telecom-equipment giant Huawei Technologies Co.'s foldable smartphone Mate X costs 2,299 euros ($2,590), while Samsung Electronics Co.'s Galaxy Fold carries a price tag of $1,980.

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