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Cellphones Earth

Samsung Releases Solar-Powered Phone 133

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the measure-your-carbon-footprint-epeen dept.
Mike writes to tell us that Samsung has released their latest green gadget, a solar-powered mobile phone. The "Blue Earth" phone has the entire reverse side covered with a solar panel, and the body of the phone is made from recycled water bottles. "The device is set to be energy efficient, with a new user interface making it easy to activate the phone's energy saving mode. It also includes a pedometer, and CO2 emissions calculator, and Samsung is aiming for minimal packaging made entirely from recycled paper. Samsung is clearly throwing the gauntlet to all phone manufacturers, and we hope to see solar cells integrated throughout the rest of their line. The phone will be unveiled on February 16th at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona."
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Samsung Releases Solar-Powered Phone

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  • But I live in my parent's basement you insensitive clod!

    • I had a solar-cell battery on my first Nokia - 1610/freestyle. Not sure how long ago, but the SIM was credit-card sized, and the battery was about 5x13cm (2"x5") so plenty of room for a big solar panel on the back :)
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday February 13, 2009 @06:51PM (#26850591) Homepage Journal
    So the first question that comes to my mind when someone says "solar powered cellphone" isn't "does it have a pedometer", but rater "how long does it take to recharge and how long does the battery last". For some reason TFA answered my first question, but not the second.

    Right now I tend to recharge my phone at night because I use it during the day. This could be a problem with a solar powered cell phone. If it's power efficient enough that I can leave it on my desk at work (under standard fluorescent lighting) and keep it fully charged then this could be great. If I have to leave it on a windowsill in direct sunlight for half of the day every day, it's far less practical.
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday February 13, 2009 @07:00PM (#26850681)

      Right now I tend to recharge my phone at night
      This wouldn't be a problem if you lived in Australia. When it is night in the USA it is daylight there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        This wouldn't be a problem if you lived in Australia. When it is night in the USA it is daylight there.

        I think I see a flaw in your cunning plan: They don't sell 4,000 mile long extension cords at Home Depot.

        • Fedex!
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Tumbleweed (3706)

          I think I see a flaw in your cunning plan: They don't sell 4,000 mile long extension cords at Home Depot.

          DIY and make your own!

        • You mean 12000 miles long extension cords, right?

        • by johannesg (664142)

          This wouldn't be a problem if you lived in Australia. When it is night in the USA it is daylight there.

          I think I see a flaw in your cunning plan: They don't sell 4,000 mile long extension cords at Home Depot.

          Try using the underseas internet cables with the power-over-IP extension!

          • Doesn't work. The voltage drop over those distances is too great. There's a reason power lines are at 400kV and up. Unless you propose a new Ethernet standard which could deal with those levels.
    • by djupedal (584558)

      A similarly configured Chinese mobile phone takes one hour to recharge with forty minutes talk time. Sit near a window or go outside...the sunlight will do you good :)

      Solar charging is simply one attribute of the overall 'green' theme, which includes being made of and packaged in recycled materials. The take-away is the move towards 'green', not just solar charging.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      "does it have a pedometer"

      Won't somebody think of the children?

      • by camperdave (969942) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:38PM (#26851737) Journal
        Won't somebody think of the children?

        Relax! A pedometer is simply a device used to measure the height of children. It typically consists of a vertical markable surface like a doorframe or wall, a pencil, and a tape measure.
        • by rts008 (812749)

          Yes, but how does this translate to a good walkthrough.htlm. to enable you to waste kids with no Karma loss?

          BAH! kill them all and let FSM sort them out!

          Begin the games!

    • I'd be worried about the battery's overall lifetime. Lithium ion, the only reasonable choice for modern cellphone applications, doesn't last forever as it is, and dies faster if kept at elevated temperatures. Making a phone that encourages the user to leave it lying in bright sunlight seems like a potential issue. That said, I'm just a guy spouting off on the internet, Samsung could easily have run the numbers and determined that the battery will only die 10% faster, or some acceptable value; but that would
    • by geekoid (135745)

      It also comes with a charger.

    • by drpt (1257416)
      you could use a couple of mercury vapor lights and make a charging station
    • by snero3 (610114)

      I love this idea, I think that you have missed the whole idea of the phone admittedly it TFA didn't really point it out that well.

      The first reason I love this one is what it is made out of. If you are like me your phone will only last 1 year dude to abuse. So if the phone is already made of recyclable materials I feel less guilty when I get rid of it a year later.

      The second reason is the solar changer. Again I think you missed the point of the solar part of this phone (and the author of the article did

    • by fractoid (1076465)

      So the first question that comes to my mind when someone says "solar powered cellphone" isn't "does it have a pedometer", but rater "how long does it take to recharge and how long does the battery last".

      I think the second part is important, especially as high temperatures tend to dramatically shorten the lifespan of Lithium batteries. Leaving your phone in the car or in direct sunlight on a hot day can make it very hot, I can't imagine it would be very good for a battery to be in a small black enclosure that's regularly left in the sun.

    • So the first question that comes to my mind when someone says "solar powered cellphone" isn't "does it have a pedometer ?"

      It's Pedobear's first question.

  • by DurendalMac (736637) on Friday February 13, 2009 @06:51PM (#26850597)
    Most mobile phones stay in your pocket until you're ready to use them. When they're out, your hand is generally wrapped around the back. That kinda screws up the whole solar powered angle. The only time it might be useful is if you leave it sitting out in the sun when the battery dies. That's assuming you can set it down without getting it stolen. It sounds a lot more like a marketing gimmick than a useful feature.
    • TFA shows an app on the phone that says how many trees you saved. What I don't get about green types is just that. I'll be the first to admit that this planet would really suck without trees, but why does it matter if we just replant after harvesting? Do trees have feelings that I'm not aware of? I'm really getting sick of tangential "green" products/methods/processes that wouldn't matter in the first place if your not an idiot with your resources. (i.e. suitable land, environment etc for trees)
      • by Smallpond (221300)

        I don't think you appreciate the difference between natural forest and a clear-cut, replanted tree farm. It's like grass vs. astroturf. The replanted area is lacking all of the birds, plants, mammals, even bugs and microbes that are in the ecology of natural forest. It takes 100 years for a forest to recover from being clear cut. Trees might be what people think of as a forest, but they are only one element.

        That said, it does seem kind of silly to talk about solar cells "saving trees".

        • by inviolet (797804)

          I don't think you appreciate the difference between natural forest and a clear-cut, replanted tree farm. It's like grass vs. astroturf. The replanted area is lacking all of the birds, plants, mammals, even bugs and microbes that are in the ecology of natural forest.

          As the owner of a replanted tree farm that is now 19 years old, I think you should know that your eloquent conjecture is completely false.

          It takes 100 years for a forest to recover from being clear cut.

          While you've got your hand in there, can you

          • I don't think you appreciate the difference between natural forest and a clear-cut, replanted tree farm. It's like grass vs. astroturf. The replanted area is lacking all of the birds, plants, mammals, even bugs and microbes that are in the ecology of natural forest.

            As the owner of a replanted tree farm that is now 19 years old, I think you should know that your eloquent conjecture is completely false.

            I'm sure your tree farm is doing just fine, but are you aware of how many corporations cut down forests full of diverse deciduous species and replant the whole area with pine trees? Also, a lot of times no one at all replants after logging.

            It takes 100 years for a forest to recover from being clear cut.

            I think he was saying was that many of the trees that are cut down are hundreds of years old, and having both old and new trees is important to the ecosystem. Also, there is no question as to whether deforestation wipes out whole species.

            Recycling reduces demand and hence ruins the economic incentive for preserving or creating a forest on one's property.

            Most people don't create or pres

      • Three things...

        1) If the trees actually get replanted, then that's fine, but despite the claims that "more trees are being replanted than harvested", the amount of planted forest is still shrinking quite rapidly. :P

        Perhaps forest is being cleared to make room for cities and farms, or for other reasons, but it's still getting cut all over the world!

        2) Creating water bottles makes a lot of pollution, and is quite bad for the environment. It's nice to see them recycling plastic rather than manufacturing it fre

    • by Gerald (9696) on Friday February 13, 2009 @07:02PM (#26850717) Homepage

      My use case is the opposite of yours. I use my phone infrequently enough that it has to bug me to charge it. I'd love to have one that could charge itself while lying face-down on my desk.

      The pedometer and CO2 calculator? Meh.

    • by joebok (457904)

      I keep my phone in my pocket now because there isn't any reason not to. If I were able to charge it via solar, I would look for opportunities to take it out and do so. So I think it isn't 100% gimmick.

    • by smoker2 (750216)
      Yeah, like all those solar powered calculators with the solar panel ON THE FRONT !
      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Yes I realise this phone has the panels on the back, but which way up would you leave if it had solar panels ...
    • by Fumus (1258966)
      How about a new trendy hat with a phone pocket?
      You'd look retarded and it would be begging to get stolen, but would charge easily.
    • by mgblst (80109)

      Only if you are out walking all day long. Don't you have a desk at work, is so then just pull it out and put it near the window. Or in your car, pull it out and put it on the seat next to you. See, not so hard.

    • by priegog (1291820)
      Well, sure, but given how cheap solar cells are nowadays, aside from design costs I don't think adding a solar cell would add up to more than 5 bucks or something like that. For the few times that this feature might be useful it might actually not be such a bad idea... But really, in other to make a "greener" phone they NEED to start designing these things with longer userful live's in mind. 18 months average is awfully small. The laptop I'm writing this on is going to be six years soon, why couldn't my pho
    • by kenj0418 (230916)

      A smarter plan would be to have a cell phone that charges by being in your pocket while you walk around during the day. Sort of like the flashlights that you shake to get a charge.: http://www.modernoutpost.com/gear/details/ee_shakelight.html [modernoutpost.com]

      IANA-Electrical Engineer, but seems like a more common use case than a phone sitting in direct sunlight.
      (I'm sure the whole thing is just a 'look at us - we're green!' marketing stunt anyway) (Not that I RFTA'd or anything like that)

    • I'm not entirely certain how Samsung is "throwing down the gauntlet" with this phone. To me it seems more like an eco-marketing gimmick but I'll let that go and stick to the reply...

      I suppose the notion with the solar panel thing is that the user habits are expected to change to accommodate the whole charging with the sun deal. What I find interesting about this isn't the "benefit" of solar charging to the user/environment but to the manufacturer who will be selling additional phones to replace those that

    • This idea might not see the light of day
  • I have been kicking around the idea of doing the Appalachian trail and although I obviously want to get off grid, it would be nice to have a phone in case of life or death emergency. I wonder if this thing is small small and light... in that case, the built-in solar would be just the ticket.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hguorbray (967940)

      Given the fact that much of the AT is remote wilderness cell coverage is probably pretty spotty

      unfortunately satellite phones are a little too expensive as they would be a better alternative

      Good Luck with the AT hike

      my gf has wanted to hike parts of the AT for ages -maybe someday

      Also highly recommend -Bill Bryson's book on the AT: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Walk_in_the_Woods:_Rediscovering_America_on_the_Appalachian_Trail [wikipedia.org]

      -I'm just sayin'

      • Besides that they are too pricey for most applications, aren't those iridium satellites now playing bumpercars 300 miles up and creating a nice collision debris cascade? hard to phone to a satellite that is in 2000 pieces. (unless it is that cricket computer from the hitchhikers guide)

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      I have been kicking around the idea of doing the Appalachian trail and although I obviously want to get off grid, it would be nice to have a phone in case of life or death emergency.

      http://www.engadget.com/2009/02/13/digicel-launching-ztes-coral-200-solar-phone-in-emerging-market/ [engadget.com]

      "It may not have the glam or the flash of the Samsung Blue Earth, but ZTE's Coral-200-Solar takes solar power to a side of the market that needs it far, far more urgently -- the side without power outlets. The Chinese manufacturer is teaming up with Jamaica's Digicel Group to roll out one of the world's first mass-market solar cellphones to folks with "limited or no access to the power grid," which represents

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Samsung's phone is just a shiny lifestyle phone.
        ZTE's Coral-200-Solar actually embodies what you'd expect from a solar phone.

        I can't help but notice that neither one is ruggedized, and that either one is going to require that you wear plastic pants if you want it to charge while in your pocket.

        Both phones are MASSIVE FAILs in my book, and I can't actually see anything on engadget that indicates that the Coral-200-Solar is actually better for off-grid use than the Samsung toy. In fact, the Samsung is smaller, which makes it arguably better for people who are operating on minimal resources as you can see every day in many countries

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      I think you'd be better off with a solar backpack and the phone you already have. That being said, I suspect most of the Appalachian Trail has rather poor cellular coverage. In Washington state, I couldn't even connect while hiking Mt. St. Helens, which is pretty close to a major metropolitan area, despite having line-of-sight for about a 50 mile radius.
    • Are the masts for connecting to the network close enough on the Appalachian trail? It would kind of suck if your phone works and has all the juice it needs, but reception is 0%...
  • But how much will this thing cost? Or is there some other cost in practicality?
  • I must compliment them for not compromising size and looks for the latest fads. That way it's not a gimmick and you won't just sell it to the treehuggers, you can sell it to the masses.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) * <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @06:56PM (#26850651) Homepage Journal
    The back of the phone doesn't seem the most reasonable place for them. Most people after all use their hand to hold on to the phone while talking - hence covering up the back of the phone while using it. And those who use bluetooth are often carrying the phone in their pocket, where one generally doesn't find much sun light, either.

    It looks like someone didn't do all their homework on this one...
    • It seems if you had a backpack or something with the solar cells on it, and a connection (maybe inside in the backpack?) to plug into devices to recharge them it would make a lot more sense than having each device have the solar cells on it.

      • > It seems if you had a backpack or something...

        A hat. A big, wide hat, covered with solar cells. Prevent skin cancer and save the world at the same time.

        Of course, unless Apple sells it it won't be cool.

  • Do phones generally get a lot of sunlight?

    Kudos to them if the solar panel actually generates more energy than the energy cost of producing the panel. My cell phone is on my hip and I barely get enough light to keep from turning a pastey shade of grey. My wife's phone is generally in her pocketbook.

  • (checks image)

    So...... beautiful,glossy front screen.... which will be face-down 90% of the time on all sorts of unforgiving surfaces.

    The production version had better have a slightly raised edge all around that screen, otherwise it's going to be scratched in record time.

  • With this new phone, I'd have to leave it laying around during the daytime instead of letting it spend the day in my pocket. Which lowers the convenience of a cellphone considerably - normally mine is in my pocket until bedtime.

    In other words, not a terribly useful modification to the basic cellphone.

  • the body of the phone is made from recycled water bottles.

    Recycled water bottles, huh? How many calls can you make with it before it becomes toxic?

    Oh wait, that was an urban legend [wikipedia.org].

  • thermal model (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    meh, i'd rather have one that was powered by the heat of my thigh.

  • The body of the phone is made out of recycled water bottles and has no brominated flame retardants, beryllium and phthalates - all incredibly toxic substances.

    This could be a real improvement, at the rate that people change cellphones now, the amount of the old tech trash is outrageous, so this could help to minimize the impact if it become a standard

  • It sounded cool at first, I was thinking they'd have a solar panel charging device. Plug your phone into it while you're at work if you work in the day time by a window, and have it charge like that.

    This phone is far from that. Putting a solar panel on a phone seems rather useless, unless you intend to leave it out in the sun all the time. When you're walking around outside your phone will be in your pocket, when you're using it, your hand will cover the panel. Plus most people charge their phones at night,

  • Please place your phone in a dark place to reset.

    Or,
    (walks under tree) Can you hear me now?

  • So do I need to keep this phone on a clip on my belt so it can get some sun? I mean when I call people my hand will be pretty much all over those panels and they won't get any light. Does it recharge in the seconds it takes me to put the phone back in my pocket? And when will the panels be facing the sun? Do I need to hold the phone up when i use it for texting. This idea is retarded.
  • "Samsung is clearly throwing the gauntlet to all phone manufacturers"

    I believe there should be a "down" in there. As in "Samsung is clearly throwing the gauntlet down to all phone manufacturers." "Throwing the gauntlet to all phone manufacturers" makes it sound like they're just having a nice relaxing game of gauntlet catch.
  • nice thinking, covering a device that stays the whole day in our pockets with solar panels. i guess you guys aren't being green at all, coz it's just a waste of perfectly usable solar panels....

    and don't get me started on putting it in the car near the winshield, do that in the $REALWORLD and you know what happens :)

    just my 2 yen.

  • So if you're on one of those plans that gives cheap or free minutes at night/evening, it's not a great deal of use?
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Yes, just like my solar-powered flashlight, which doesn't have a battery which allows me to use it for longer than it is typically dark. Oh wait, it does... Perhaps you were trying to be humorously ironic, but instead you ended up being ironically humorous (especially since those free evening calling plans are precisely the perfect match for this phone, which can be charging during the day and in use at night.) So I guess this phone is marketed to people who sleep during the day.

  • ... and they will be on a winner!

  • Must buy green phone ... chuck out old gas-guzzling phone ... save planet ... feel warm and fuzzy ...

    Er, how much energy does it take to make the solar cells?

  • Wouldn't it be a better idea to generate power by walking instead of putting it into a lousy pedometer? The sun doesn't _usually_ shine too brightly into the pockets of my pants. Besides, what do I need a pedometer for anyway? That's what GPS is for.

  • I remember being in a position once where I was stranded(had my wallet stolen) and the only way out of the situation was to make a phone call, only my phone battery was almost dead. I made the call, but got cut-off right after I explained my situation, but before I could relay my location. I ended up having to hunt for someone to borrow a phone from(easier said then done).

    With this phone, it wouldn't have been a problem. I could simply have sat down in the sun, and waited to be able to make a call.

    I can als

    • I could simply have sat down in the sun, and waited to be able to make a call.

      How long will you be waiting - and what is the range?

      • My point is that it is better then NO battery juice.

        While it may take awhile, your not totally screwed.

        Better then dying at the bottom of a cliff, after lingering there miserably for days, all because your phone battery was dead.

  • by ChangeOnInstall (589099) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:39PM (#26851741)

    http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-content/uploads/samsungblueearth2.jpg [inhabitat.com]

    I don't get it. How are you saving trees with this phone? Has Samsung employed a gang of vigilante loggers to cut them down if you do not walk a certain distance per day using the phone as a pedometer in "Eco walk" mode? Has there been a new scientific discovery that CO2 may in fact kill trees, negating the previous data that it is neutral or possibly even beneficial toward plant growth?

    • I just cut down the tree in my front yard because of your thoughtless post. Man is my wife going to be mad at you.

  • Charging Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SinGunner (911891)
    This would work great if your job was outdoors and you had it clipped to your belt. Seems like it'd work well for construction?
  • But does it give a report on the rare metals mined in deep Africa needed to build it?

    The geek-factor on one of these is huge and I'd be all over it like a prussian woodpecker over a Louis XIII Antique Chair, but all this greenness only makes sense to those willing to ignore the un-greenness of the whole manufacturing process.

    Bah. Why don't they just strap a mini gas turbine?

  • It looks vaguely android-esque. The clock looks the same, but there isn't a little tabby thing on the bottom of the screen - except there is a little tabby thing on one side.

    Is it Android? Or is cloned from the Android UI? Or is it just parallel evolution?

    Samsung has announced using Android for other phones.

  • I like the idea of this. A solar powered phone would be great (provided solar charging isn't the ONLY) option when I'm on the road or on a camping trip, or burn up all by battery life playing Tetris on the bus. Flip it over, leave it next to a window, forget about.

    What I'm not altogether keen on is the contrivance of bundling this with the "green" fad. I don't give two shits about how many trees the manufacturer hugged with designing the packaging, and I, for one, think that moulding phones out of recycled

    • PET plastic is PET plastic. Who cares if it's been melted down and then re-cast?

      Anyway, that's why they're not turning the recycled bottle into FOOD-GRADE products. I'd prefer to have a phone made of "questionable" plastics than a drink bottle. Are you going to eat the phone? Still better to eat this offering from Samsung than a different model made from nice, "fresh" brominated flame retardants.

  • This is old news, there are a BUNCH of Chinese made cell phones being sold on infomercials in China with solar charging capabilities. They've been selling these for years....Here's a nicer looking example [inhabitat.com] I quickly found just searching...not a fair representation of the lot because there are quite a few very repulsive looking ones.

    How good are they? I'm not sure as I've never used one but as far as I can tell from the ultra-cheesy infomercials, these phones are light years ahead of what the big cellphon

  • You people who shit all over every single new product need hobbies or something. Just because it doesn't work for you or isn't exactly what you need or can't play Ogg Vorbis files and doesn't run Ubuntu 8.08.12-a build 2108-c doesn't mean that it lacks value. If it isn't your perfect product ... don't buy it. New features are steps toward better features. Every idea has to start with a single product, usually one with an imperfect implementation. I applaud Samsung for doing something interesting and dif
  • Oh no, this phone will cause users to get skin cancer, since they will have to be outside all the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Maelwryth (982896)
      " Oh no, this phone will cause users to get skin cancer, since they will have to be outside all the time."
      Untrue.
      It will however cause a class action suit for neck injuries sustained while charging the phone during long conversations and, of course, multiple ear injuries due to idiots thinking gluing it there was a good idea.
  • by jipn4 (1367823)

    I would find this useful. At home or at work, I put my phone on the desk anyway, so it can recharge easily then. I'd probably still charge it from the grid some of the time, but for travel or if it runs down, I'm not completely cut off.

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