Sharp Aquos Phone SH-12C 3D pictures and hands-on

What do Sharp smartphones and Chelsea FC have in common? They both struggle to make an impact in Europe.

Boom boom!

But all that could be set to change (for Sharp at least, Chelsea are never going to win the Big Cup) with the European début of Sharp's Android flagship - the Sharp Aquos Phone SH-12C 3D.

It was announced last week that Orange, in partnership with Japan's DoCoMo network, will be releasing the SH-12C in France, labelled as the Sharp Aquos SH80F. And, after getting our grubby paws on the 3D handset which launched in Japan back in May, we are crossing our fingers and toes, hoping that this means wider European ambitions for Sharp.

Because let's not kid around here. The Aquos 3D is a seriously impressive piece of kit and indicates that Sharp could well sit alongside the established Android players in the western world.

This Android Gingerbread device may not have the dual-core capacity of its 3D rivals the HTC Evo 3D or the LG Optimus 3D - it's running on a 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255CPU with 512MB of RAM - but its 3D credentials are heavy hitting.

It packs dual 8-megapixel cameras which are capable of recording 720p HD 3D action and the cameras are great fun to play with, giving you a nice 3D impression even before you snap your picture.

The display is none too shoddy either. It's a 4.2-inch qHD (540 x 960) one, with glasses free 3D action, that looked pretty impressive up close. Not just for the 3D action either, its slightly smaller screen compared to the Evo 3D's, but with the same resolution, means that the ppi count is a tad higher. Web pages looked incredibly crisp, for example.

The build quality is nice as well. Measuring in at 127 x 64 x 11.9mm and weighing 138g, it isn't the most compact of phones (especially as the raised dual cameras protrude to 13.8mm) but it's got a nice sharp (no pun intended) finish and looks almost retro-like thanks to the silver trim.

With a French release à l'horizon and with HSDPA 14Mpbs on board, we're hoping that we'll be seeing some Sharp Aquos 3D action in the UK soon. We'll keep you posted.