Sharp and Apple created the first Personal Digital Assistant in 1993. Apple's version product was called the Message Pad, while Sharp's version was named the Expert Pad. Both ran Apple's Newton OS which was also licenced to manufacturers Digital Ocean and Motorola in 1995.
AS the Newton-OS-based Expert Pad sales figures failed to impress, Sharp abandoned the project only after two models, the PI-7000 and the PI-7100 and began working on their own line of mobile computers, the Zaurus, which has become a "household" name among programmers and users alike. The Zaurus ran a proprietary OS until 2000 when it switched to Linux. The Linux Zaurus series was officially discontinued in February 2007 but manufacture did not cease immediately because of strong demand.
The mobile personal tools by Sharp have never been limited to one OS only. Windows Mobile touch screen UMPCs with display sizes between 5 and 10 inches have been produced since 1997, when the first of the Mobilion series was launched running Windows CE 1.0. Sharp's Windows Mobile line, made for Japanese operator Willcom, is called W-Zero3 and first appeared at the end of 2005 with the world's first VGA-display pocket PC running Windows Mobile 5, the WS003SH.
In November 2009, Sharp launched a new line of mobile computers, said to the be successor of the Zaurus, named NetWalker, running Linux Ubuntu. In May 2010 Sharp's first Android device came out, the IS01 by carrier AU KDDI, a foldable qwerty mobile communication tool (MIT) with a 5-inch 960x480 pixel screen, followed in October 2010 by the IS03, the Japanese answer to the iPhone 4 invasion of the Japanese market.
Meanwhile, two highly anticipated projects failed because of the market's wariness of 'revolutionary' projects amid a global economic crisis. The new concept OS mobile tool, the First ELSE, was announced in November 2009 by Israeli IT company ELSE, formerly Emblaze Mobile and was rescheduled twice for Q2 and Q4 of 2010, but was officially suspended on June 30, 2010. And on July 1, Microsoft's successors of the popular Danger Sidekick line, the Kin One and Kin Two, running a tailored Windows Phone 7 backbone with Silverlight skinning, was announced 'dead'.
Starting in mid-2010, Sharp focused exclusively on the production of Android-based smartphones which managed to overtake the Japanese market in less than a year. Android-running smartphones and tablets were and are being released for domestic Japanese carriers DoCoMo, SoftBank, AU and Willcom, as well as for China, Taiwan, and Russia. There is also a line of low-range Android smartphones made exclusively for the US, Indian and Brazilian markets but these are not listed on this website. The launch of high-end devices on the European and US markets, which Sharp started planning in late 2011 was postponed indefinitely because of the financial crisis. Only one Sharp smartphone was brought officially to Europe (Germany and France), the SH80F, which is a version of the SH-12C made for the carrier Orange.
Sharp keitais used to be the most popular mobile telephone brand in Japan (1/4 of market until 2011), shrinking to 16% in mid-2013, second only to Apple's iPhone. SoftBank models run a proprietary OS developed by Japanese Access Corporation who are also known for their NetFront Browser. [* Access are also the coders behind the First ELSE boasting the Else Intuition OS nicknamed sPlay.] The OS is based on Linux but is heavily customized to meet the needs of Japanese carrier SoftBank (second largest). Together with the leading mobile operator in Japan, NTT DoCoMo, Sharp make a number of mobile phone lines all using a custom-tailored operating environment based on Symbian. Although traditionally partially function-locked, Japanese Sharp phones are popular among fans world-wide because of their look, feel, quality, robustness and unmatched specifications. I am a proud owner of a 904SH keitai myself, an exceptional phone which still does a great job despite its 5 years of age (released April 2006, unlocked December 2007).
Keitais in 2011 are increasingly running Android OS on all three Japanese operators (SoftBank bought Willcom in early 2010). Some of these models have glasses-free 3D display and photographing capabilities (the world's first) and are also available in Chinese versions, which have no operator locks. The first 3D capable phones are the Galapagos 003SH and 005SH (* I bought one in October 2011 and it was my primary phone until October 2012), Lynx SH-03C, and the Sharp China SH8158U are not available to the rest of the world.
As DoCoMo began offering an unlock for their phones in April 2011, 3D keitais are becoming more popular around the world. SoftBank are still refusing to implement the Japanese government policy on unlocking phones (as of February 2012), but SoftBank Androids can be used with a hypersim and can use GSM (GPRS/EDGE) mobile data. In 2013, a full software unlock was developed for the 003SH, 005SH, 007SH, and I got my 005SH SIM-unlocked.
Sharp discontinued their 3D-capable line in 2012, the last models being the Docomo SH-01D and SH-06D, and the SoftBank 102SH and 102SH II.
This site was originally conceived as a database of Windows Mobile devices manifactured by Sharp, containing useful information, a.k.a. HowTos and Applications, as well as a Device List, where brief descriptions are given of these devices. With the advent of Android OS and abandonment of Windows Mobile, the inclusion of Android-based devices was the natural development.
Featured are all Windows CE (Compact Edition, a.k.a. Mobile), Windows (standard edition), Linux and Android devices manufactured by Sharp.
All application- and howto-related information comes from personal experience and almost all of the applications have been personally tested on the Sharp devices I own: the W-ZERO3 (WS003SH), the EM ONE (S01SH), the Galapagos 005SH, the Aquos Phone SH-01D. The appeal of Sharp devices - because of quality, features, and uniqueness - has proven irresistible to the people around me, and I have bought two Aquos Phone SH-12Cs, one Aquos Phone sv SH-10D, one Aquos Phone Zeta SH-02E, one Aquos Phone Zeta SH-06E, and one Aquos Phone si SH-07E for my brother, my girlfriend, her brother, and friends - and have also performed tests on them. If I have not personally tested something, I have mentioned this in the article. Anyway, please use at your own risk and send feedback and/or any information you might consider useful.
For more details or to ask questions and share your experience, feel free to contact me.
Disclaimer: Neither this site, nor myself are in any way affiliated with Sharp Corporation or any subsidiaries or agents.