Samsung Introduces a Solar Powered Mobile Phone

Samsung has just introduced a product that Al Gore should love. Actually, anyone who cares about the environment and wants to wear their "green" concern on their sleeve--or in this case, in their hand or next to their ear--should find Samsung's new solar-powered, "Blue Earth" touch-screen phone an appealing way to stay connected in style, while producing less climate-damaging CO2 in the process.

The Blue Earth phone includes a solar-charging panel on its backside, which Samsung claims "can generate enough electronic power to call anytime anywhere." While this sounds promising, Samsung has yet to release the precise specifications and details of the phone, such as how long the panel needs to charge, or how long the solar-charged battery will last in terms of standby and talk time. As you will not always be able to charge the phone using the solar panel--such as on rainy days or if you are indoors and not near a window--the Blue Earth also "comes with a 5 star energy efficient charger which uses standby power lower than 0.03W."

Getting its power from the sun is not the Blue Earth's only claim to environmental friendliness. It will come with minimal packaging, made from recycled paper. In fact, even the phone itself is made from recycled materials:

"Blue Earth is made from recycled plastic called PCM, which is extracted from water bottles, helping to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions in the manufacturing process. The device, including charger, is free from harmful substances such as Brominated Flame Retardants, Beryllium and Phthalate."

The phone will also include an "Eco mode," which can be set with a single click. The Eco Mode will put the phone in a power-saving mode by doing things such as lowering the screen brightness, reducing the backlight duration, and setting "Bluetooth to an energy-efficient mode." An "Eco Walk" feature takes advantage of the phone's built-in pedometer, "calculating how much CO2 emissions have been reduced by walking as opposed to motor transport."

While Samsung claims that the Blue Earth is the "first solar powered full-touch screen phone," it is not the first solar-powered phone that we've seen. Two years ago at CeBIT 2007, a Chinese company, named Hi-Tech Wealth was showing of a solar-powered phone (albeit, not a touch-screen phone), which it called the "Light-Energy Mobile Phone." Additionally, the concept of using solar power to charge cell phones and other consumer electronics is not new; several companies manufacture solar chargers designed for this specific purpose, such as Brunton, Soldius, and NRG Dock.

Samsung states that the Blue Earth is "designed to symbolize a flat and well rounded shiny pebble." There is no word yet on when the Blue Earth will be available, which service providers will offer it, or how much it is expected to sell for. However, on February 16, Samsung's site will launch, and it will presumably have more details about the phone. Additionally, Samsung will be officially unveiling the phone on the 16th at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain.