Solar-powered phones

Korean manufacturer Samsung unveiled its first solar-cell mobile phone at the 2009 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Blue Earth phone uses plastics recycled from water bottles, and both handset and charger are free of toxic materials. A full solar charge – 10 to 14 hours – provides power for four hours of talk time.

In early 2009, phone operator Digicel – which services developing countries across the Caribbean, Central America and the South Pacific – launched the Coral-200-Solar, claimed to be the world’s first ultra-low-cost solar-powered mobile phone. The objective is to bring mobile communications to 2 billion people with limited access to electricity.

The phone uses innovative technology developed by Netherlands solar-power specialist Intivation that works in any mobile phone. A step-up converter increases the output of the solar cell to 3.7 V to charge the phone’s lithium-ion battery, increasing the cell’s efficiency. This cuts the cost of production as the solar cell can be smaller. Contracting Chinese company ZTE to manufacture the phone further reduced costs.


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