July 05, 2006, 10:47 PM — Sharp Corp. took the wraps off its W-Zero3 ES smart phone on Tuesday, which becomes only the second Windows Mobile-based handset in Japan.
The Japan-only phone's predecessor, the W-Zero3, became a hit when it launched last year as the first handset in Japan to use the Microsoft OS. Most competing smart phones use the Linux or Symbian operating systems.
The success of the predecessor surprised many -- including Darren Huston, president of Microsoft Co. Ltd., the regional unit of Microsoft.
"When I first came to Japan a year ago somebody asked me, 'What's the one thing you want to achieve while you're here?' and I said, 'Well, maybe in two or three years we'll get a Windows Mobile phone," he said at a Tokyo news conference.
The executive never imagined that two Windows Mobile smart phones would be available in the market so quickly, he said. "It really has far exceeded our expectations," Huston said.
The slider-type handset looks like a conventional phone. There's a QWERTY keyboard on the rear half of the phone revealed by rotating the handset through 90 degrees clockwise, and sliding the upper half of the phone away from the lower half.
The phone boasts a VGA (640 pixels by 480 pixels) resolution 2.8-inch screen, about four times that of most cell phone screens.
The W-Zero3 ES's features include USB host mode. This means that data from devices like digital cameras can be transferred to the phone via USB without the need for a computer.
The phone is based on an Intel Corp. PXA270 XScale processor running at 416MHz and has 128M bytes of built-in flash memory and 64M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM). There's a miniSD slot for memory expansion and also a 1.3-megapixel camera.
In addition to the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system the phone also comes with a copy of the Opera Mobile Web browser pre-installed.
The W-Zero3 ES measures 56 millimeters by 135 mm by 21 mm and weighs 175 grams. It is compatible with Willcom Inc.'s PHS (personal handyphone system) network and won't be available outside of Japan.
Willcom will begin accepting reservations for the phone on July 14 and it will go on sale on July 27. It will cost