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Literary Openings, Gadgets and News in Nigeria | Duketundesblog: YES/NO: Solar-powered Smartphones in the Offing

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

YES/NO: Solar-powered Smartphones in the Offing

Back in the days many of us use solar powered calculators, i still have mine that i bought some 18 years ago, Solar-powered streetlights and solar-powered devices are not hard to find. But with all the advances made in solar technology we've not seen a solar-powered smartphone...My BIG QUESTION here: We will ever be able to use the sun to power our ubiquitous smartphones and other mobile gadgets instead of plugging it into the socket everyday?

The answer is YES, Solar-powered smartphones is in the offing but depends not only on efficiency gains in photovoltaic cell technology but also on where those cells are placed on our devices and where we store them—many of us keep our smartphones stuffed in a pocket or handbag for much of the day, out of reach of the sun’s energy. If solar-powered smartphones becomes a reality it will go a long way in helping people in developing countries with poor electricity supply enjoy seamless access high-end smart devices.


To be sure, there has been some progress. At the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona this year, Japanese cell phone maker Kyocera Corp. for the second year running showed off a prototype of a 12.7-centimeter solar-powered phone. The so-far nameless device allows for a minute of talk time for every three minutes of sunlight—a big improvement over the company’s 2015 predecessor, which offered only 15 minutes for every two hours of solar charging.

To develop the phone Kyocera worked with France-based Sunpartner Technologies, which produces translucent film impregnated with photovoltaic cells. Being see-through, the film can be installed between the LCD display and the touch screen so that the phone can charge more easily while in use. Most previous efforts at solar-powered phones had the cells on the back, meaning that the device had to be facedown to get a charge and that the cells, being external, could more easily be damaged.

Kyocera says it expects to bring its solar-powered smartphone to market soon, possibly in time for the next Mobile World Congress in February 2017. The company says solar charging will not add much in the way of cost, so the phones are likely to have a price tag that is acceptable to users and the carriers that sell the handsets. Kyocera spokesman John Chier adds that the technology will most likely show up in one of its lines of phones geared for industrial or outdoor use. If they do become a hit, expect more gadget makers to follow suit.

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