The majority of solar
powered cell phones that have been developed still come with a
traditional AC charger that can be plugged into a power outlet, but
they also contain solar panels on the back of the phone to provide
energy to charge the battery when no other power source is available.
The first models of these phones that were produced were not extremely
reliable or practical, however as the technology has continued to
develop, companies have begun producing better, more reliable solar
Advantages of Solar
History of Solar Cell
While the technology has
been in the works for many years, it wasn’t until 2009 that the first
solar cell phones became commercially available.
Co. was one of the first to develop and market a truly
cell phone when it launched the Samsung
Crest Solar E1107 in 2009. The
phone was first available for purchase in India, before it was expanded
to Asia, Africa, and Latin America as well.
The biggest advantage of
this product was its relatively low price, with the phone normally
selling for around $55, making it much more affordable than many other
traditional cell phones on the market.
The same day that Samsung
announced its solar phone, LG,
another Korean telecommunications
company and leading cell phone manufacturer, also unveiled their
prototype of a solar powered phone. The LG phone provided about three
minutes of talking time after charging in direct sunlight for only ten
telecommunications company known as ZTE
Corp. also produced a solar
cell phone in 2009. This phone was purchased by many phone companies
around the world and made available to people in less developed
nations. In Kenya, the country’s largest cell phone provider Safaricom
purchased 100,000 of these solar phones and started selling them for
around $35 or the equivalent of a month’s salary in the country.
These phones were quite
popular as they allowed Kenyans to charge their phones without paying
to use electricity and led to an increase in cell phone usage in the
country. Part of the reason for this phone’s success in Kenya lies in
the fact that over 17 of the country’s 37 million inhabitants own and
regularly use cell phones, despite the fact that only about one and a
half million people in the country are connected to the power grid.
Issues in Developing Countries
Many experts have
suggested that solar powered cell phones will be most successful in
developing countries, where the electricity grid is not nearly as
reliable. Many of these cell phones come with a very reasonable price
tag which makes them more affordable for people living in less
developed countries that live on very minimal wages. They will be able
to charge their phones without the need to travel to a
village and pay someone to use their power outlet.
This technology has the
ability to completely change the way people in these developing
countries communicate with one another. These developments will further
increase the global cell phone usage, and make cell phones even more
accessible to poorer people all around the world. In fact, the majority
of solar phones that have been developed have been marketed almost
solely in places like Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
In the past few years, the
majority of the world’s leading cell phone manufacturers have developed
and launched solar powered mobile phones in India. The erratic power
supply in many places in India, especially in rural areas, has led to
this country being one of the major testing grounds for new solar
Solar Powered Smart Phones
In early 2011, a Chinese
manufacturer of cell phones known as Umeox Mobile announced the world’s
first solar smart phone. This phone, which the company calls the Umeox
Apollo, is supported by an Android operating system and
all of the standard features of a traditional smart phone, including
Bluetooth, a 1 gigabyte hard drive, SD card, and a three megapixel
Umeox Mobile states that
the phone can be charged enough for daily usage in around two and half
hours, while it will take around seventeen hours of direct sunlight to
fully charge a depleted battery. Again one of the biggest advantages of
this particular cell phone lies in the price: Umeox Apollo phones
normally sell for around one hundred US dollars, which is still
relatively cheap for an Android powered smart phone.
Sagem also has a solar
smart phone, which was designed together with sportswear company Puma.
The Sagem Puma M1
has a built-in solar panel on the back and is clearly marketed for
athletes and hikers who don't always have access to a power outlet.
Again, at just under $90, this device is very affordable and worth
checking out if you love the outdoors.
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