back to article Samsung shines a light on first solar cellphone

Samsung has spent the last few months talking up solar-powered handsets, but its first commercially available model has finally been unveiled. It’s called Crest Solar. Samsung_Crest_Solar_01 Samsung's Crest Solar: 60 minutes in the sun yields ten minutes' talk time Also known as the E1107, the phone isn’t powered exclusively …

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Very sensible Mum/backup phone

A great phone to give to Mum to leave on her window sill all day so she doesn't have to fiddle around with or worry about a charger - plus it looks easy to use. Secondly, keeping a PAYG version on the dashboard, sunnyside up will provide an ideal emergency phone in the event your main super duper do it all smart phone is nicked, breaks, runs out of juice or suffers an OS embolism. Less is more - in particular when carbon neutral.

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Precisely...

How much money is the average liberal hippy douche actually likely to save using this thing? Was it more environmentally friendly to create this device as opposed to a traditional style handset?

I smell bullshit.

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Wow

That will save a couple of pennies of electricity if you can be bothered to wait an hour to make a 5-10 minute call.

So if you're out and about an need to charge it you'd have to leave it on a table by the window, or on the dashboard of your car, or anywhere where it's likely to be left unattended and possibly stolen.

Great idea guys. Now let's talk again when you've got something a little more practical to show us.

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Boffin

What no Nokia?

Nokia sold a Solar Battery back in 1997 for the 1610 \ 1611. It was pretty crap here in blighty.

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Moment of Intense Disappointment

It took me several seconds to remember that "torch" just means "flashlight" in American English.

I was devastated that the phone does not, in fact, belch fire.

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Coat

Green money

Making you to go outside to make a call and leave the phone on a windowsill to receive an incoming ring isn't a matter of poor coverage. It's the telco's commitment to saving the environment. It's more proof that going green does save businesses money.

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Anonymous Coward

gimmick

This is like the solar powered torch you keep in your pocket..it's not going to get any sunlight to charge up!

This in my opinion, is yet another solar powered gimmick. People want to jump on the solar powered bandwagon because it makes them feel like they're doing something useful to help the planet.

The fact is, the most efficient of solar panels are between 15 and 20% efficient. That is 80% or more of the light falling on to the panel is not converted into electricity.

To get any really useful energy from solar panels requires a large surface area and high cost.

That large size requirement of the solar panel often makes them impracticable.

I'm currently working on the design of a solar panel energy system which will enable mobile phones, Ipods, and other gadgets to be charged up from the sun, because I haven't found anything suitable on the market to do it, but the size of the panels required is quite large and the cost quite high. The panels are not something you can fit in to your pocket! There a number of problems to be overcome, which I think I've solved (but that size issue isn't one of them).

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to @RotaCyclic

"This is like the solar powered torch you keep in your pocket..it's not going to get any sunlight to charge up!"

well better something than nothing, there is no reason why all cell phones could not be solar powered

10 years ago we were all using nice cell phone nokia cradles, I cannot find these easy to use cradles anywhere instead I use what was called 10 years ago "travel charger". It is so terrible and I fight with the micro-usb connector every single time ...

if you would ask "would you pay $50 extra for solar charging add-on", I would say HELL YES

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Anonymous Coward

The important question is, can it keep up on standby?

Does the solar panel provide enough juice to keep the handset permanently on standby? If it does, I'll bite, I rarely make many calls on mine.

Reminds me of my brother getting cold called by a certain high street mobile retailer; they asked him how many minutes he used a month. Turns out their system didn't even have an option for less than ten a month ;)

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a setting that turns the phone into a torch.

So it has Sony batteries then...

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Genuinely useful...

... in places like africa, disaster zones etc.

As someone who's personally experienced being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat battery, an hour in the sun sounds a lot better than a day or more walk.

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iphone?

I read a story a couple of months back about apple trying to integrate a transparent solar panel into the screen of the iphone.

the thing is, you got two choices really, leave it in your pocket all day and use the charger, or leave it on the desk, I wonder how well it charges when using office lighting? It's not that 1 hour is not a lot, cause if you're in work 8 hours a day, you'll get 80 minutes of call time effectively, at optimal charging I guess.

Then of course, if you really need to, you can just do what it says, stuck on a mountain camping trip and need your phone, ok, leave it outside in a plastic bag to protect from mist and bingo, it'll recharge itself, it's a pain to wait 1 hour to talk 10, but if you think about long term, getting into the habit of leaving it in the sunshine or light, you'll find it's a no brainer to leave it somewhere to charge, it's just because you're USED to putting it in your pocket, if you get used to leaving it on the desk, you'll not have this problem.

I already do that, so I'm guessing this is a really good thing.

The problem comes, from how long does it take to recharge the phone completely, I mean, 10 minutes talk time is what percentage of the battery and would such trickle charging work in the real world?

all interesting questions.

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for a backup phone

Drop the color screen and mp3 player and you may then have something usefull rather than a way overpowered device for the power source

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Emerging markets

Surely this is the perfect approach for Africa, India, etc. where communications are needed, but power points are often few and far between. I assume that in reality, the solar cells are too expensive for low-cost handsets, however.

Still - in the UK, handy in certain places: festivals, maybe? Not handy for everyday use here, but then how many Reg readers have a phone that doesn't equal the power consumption of the average sub-Saharan family, anyway?

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UK Market suitable

I don't think it's suitable for UK really. Seeing as there is only two weeks of sunshine a year.

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It's not "carbon neutral"

What about all the coal/gas/oil that was burnt to make the energy to make the solar panel? That gets conveniently ignored when people talk about solar power being "green" and "carbon neutral".

I bet this has a higher carbon footprint than a phone that's just charged up from mains electricity.

("Lets ignore the huge up-front carbon cost and focus on the tiny repeating saving" seems to be a common theme amongst businesses trying to be "green". E.g. see the attempts to pretend the car scrappage scheme is "green").

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Boffin

How hot can it get in your car, again?

I just hope that when I leave it in the sun/ on the dashboard, that it doesn't MELT!

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Operators won't sell this - unintentional benefit

I'm amazed that nobody has spotted that the phone will limit the amount of calls you make by design. Ergo, you won't spend much money calling out.

I'm with the person who asked about standby supply - that's a brilliant idea if it works.

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Boffin

Two week summer ?

So that 14 days at 24 hours/five minutes talktime an hour - that 28 hours of talk time over 2 weeks.

Not too bad.

My minutes work out about 1 hours worth over a month.

Oops. Hang on. just realised 1/2 the tie will be at night !

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Black Helicopters

Al Gore at work again?

Al, you claimed to have invented the Internet years back. Do you invent the solar phone too? Samsung got ya on retainer?

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Just a thought....

...but could'nt you generate power via the buzzer motor? Some sort of panel or disk you could twiddle to run the motor as a tiny generator?

I've not done the maths, so you'd probably be there twiddling for the rest of your natural life :(

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Coat

Got the picture here

Put two square meters of solar panel on the roof, use it to charge up a couple of golf cart batteries and then run these through an DC-AC converter to power my Touchstone for my Pre. Best of all worlds, that!

In all seriousness, this concept phone is just a gimmick. Now, if they created a thin, flat completely sealed laminate phone with nothing but the most basic functions and screen (remember, an unilluminated LCD screen can be powered by a small capacitor for HOURS) so that something like 4 hours of sun is a complete charge for the phone and you'd get maybe 2 hours of talk out of it, THEN you'd have a useful emergency tool. THAT would become a "must-have" in EVERY survival kit or camping pack.

OK, I'll get my coat an leave before someone starts hitting me with the logic stick...

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Anonymous Coward

@Vision Aforethought

You are joking aren't you? Leave a phone on the dashboard of the car so its battery can charge up from the integral solar panel?

That's one sure fire way to get your car broken into. This the UK!!

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Anonymous Coward

gimmick

All you people saying it's going to be useful in places like Africa haven't really thought it through.

You've got the basic problem that to be useful the phone needs to be exposed to the sun.

Which means you need to leave the phone on display in the sun, you can't keep it in your pocket!

Most african countries are poor, and full of corruption. If you leave a phone on display it's going to get nicked.

Look at the performance specs,. and you bet your bottom dollar they're going to be overly optimistic as they're published by the phone manufacturer.

You're going to need 1 hour of bright sunshine just be able to get 10 mins talk time use from the phone.

The question is what are the conditions which they measured that performance?

How bright was the sun, and what was the orientation of the phone relative to the sun?

I bet you the solar panel was pointed directly at the sun. The power generated by a solar panel falls off dramatically as the angle becomes more acute. Ideally the panel needs to be pointed directly at the sun.

And how far was the phone from the base station to give a life of 10minutes?

The further the phone is from the base station, the phone uses a higher power output from it's RF transmitter. I'm willing to bet the phone was close to the base station and the transmitter running at low power output.

My mobile has a lithium ion battery rated at 7200mAh, with a big enough panel I reckon I can charge it in perhaps an hour 15 mins, but that's a large surface area of panel and physically impossible to integrate into a phone.

The only use this solar panel charging has for this phone is under the following conditions:

1) You can be sure of bright sunshine

2) The phone is an emergency phone which you use incredibly infrequently.

The question is, even in standby mode, or even when the phone is off, it still sends burst data transmissions to the base station, it's still consuming power, the question, can the solar panels keep the battery topped up?

The partial answer to that question is: No!, if it's kept in a pocket, a glove compartment, in a drawer. Which comes back to the risk of theft if the phone is on display in the open.

If you want a phone for emergency use, which is about all this one is good for, then you might a well get a wind-up one! (if they exist and I doubt they do).

In which case, you might as well get an emergency battery pack like the Freeloader, and charge it up before you leave home, and then use the freeloader to act as an emergency charger to recharge your phone battery).

And if you're going to be in Africa and want a source of power to recharge a mobile phone and other gadgets because there's no electrical supply out in the bush, then you need my invention when I've finished building it. Not a poxy tiny solar panel which is practically useless.

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Sunny countries

I'm currently out in the Philippines where its Sunny practically every day. I agree that back in the UK this phone isn't going to be much good but this would be ideal when you go on a treck or beach trip here.

To be honest, I'd be happy with a solar powered phone that can do just text messaging... but the calling side of things is a bonus. Right now I'm lucky to get a couple days from my iPhone and charging this beast via solar would be impossible.

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Combine this with...

... Nokia's radio wave charging and you might have a mobile that you could keep on standby and keep the battery topped up!

I agree with dumping the Colour LCD screen and all the naff stuff like MP3/G playback.

Make sure it's a Quad band or better Mobile and you've a great little emergency mobile!

Have the radio waves trickle charge the battery 24/7 and the Solar panel takes over when there's enough light...

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Markets

Most of the commentards seem to be missing the point - this is obviously aimed at certain sunny, electricity-rare countries, possibly with high Muslim populations.

The mobile grid is advancing faster than the wired grid in most African countries - and in many places faster than the power grid.

And one thing we learnt from the (pitiful) spread of the One Laptop Per Child thingy was that many homes used it as a makeshift light source at night - as they didn't have electric lights to spare. I can quite understand this - when camping I often use my iPhone as a torch to find socks.

All things considered this seems like a highly innovative, useful gadget. I just hope the price is low.

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jai
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SIXTY minutes????

it's not going to sell well in the UK then - you'd have to wait all summer to get enough charge for a 10 minutes phone call

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Trigger-happy TV.

<Nokia tone>

HELLO? I'M IN THE DAR..........

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Good idea

My mobile spends almost all the work day sat next to me on the desk, in full light. I sit by a window and reckon I can get a good amount of charging in just by being at work.

I suspect though, that this is just the start and hopefully if the phone sells well, maybe some more research in to making lighter, more efficient solar cells will ensue?

Maybe the phone itself isn't too green, but maybe the market that may evolve from it will be?

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