Solar-powered cellphone on the way

A Japanese cellphone provider plans to sell a waterproof, solar-powered handset later this year. The firm says it will be exclusive to Japan, but the technology appears to be particularly useful for some developing nations.

Manufactured by Sharp, the device is set up so that solar power can recharge the battery to 80% of capacity. Providers KDDI say a 10-minute charge is enough for one minute talk-time or two hours on standby.

KDDI hasn’t released any images, but the picture shown here is reported to be the phone in question. It appears the flip-screen design takes advantage of the larger displays on Japanese phones (for easier text message reading and writing) by using the outside of the phone as a large solar panel.

The initial marketing of the phone will be based on its environmentally-friendly credentials with a reduced need for electricity consumption. However, given that it appears to be an otherwise low-spec device with few features, it would seem a good fit for developing markets where electricity sources can be scarce, unreliable or prohibitively expensive, particularly in countries with reliable sunlight levels.

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