Back in May, over in Japan, Sharp unleashed yet another 3D Android handset - the Sharp Aquos Phone SH-12C 3D.

At the time we warned our UK readers not to hold their breath waiting for a UK release, although the chances of some Sharp 3D Android action here have improved somewhat with the news that Orange is releasing the SH-12C in France, labelled as the Sharp Aquos SH80F.

And whilst that in itself isn't too exciting for us Brits, it does raise hopes that Sharp has wider ambitions than the land of the rising sun for its smartphones. Sharp has been the top mobile phone supplier in Japan for for over 5 years with a market share of around 30 per cent but has made little or no impact in the western world.

And that's a shame because its latest smartphones pack quite a hardware-punch. The SH80F is a Gingerbread device, running on a 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8255CPU with 512MB of RAM and 2GB of ROM. The display is a fantastic sounding 4.2-inch qHD (540 x 960) 3D "New Mobile ASV Panel" and it's got a dual 8-megapixel camera for 3D photos and videos. It also packs HSDPA 14Mpbs, GPS and Bluetooth connectivity.

Masami Ohbatake, group general manager of the communication systems group at Sharp said: "Sharp is honoured to commercialise our new 3D smartphone with Orange, thanks to their new collaborative relationship with DoCoMo.

"The introduction of this product in Europe will offer new added value experiences for users through our one-of-a-kindtechnologies; such as our 3D display and 3D camera."

We first got wind of Sharp's 3D phone plans back in September 2010 when Pocket-lint was treated to a demo of its auto-stereoscopic technology as well as a concept 3D smartphone at IFA.

It will be interesting to see if the French release is a one off, or part of a bigger plan.