labels: LG Electronics, Samsung, Environment, New products, Mobiles
Mobile phone makers moving to solar-powered handsets news
By Mary Thomas
18 February 2009

The mobile phone industry is going to great lengths to boast its environmental credentials at the Mobile World Congress that opened on 16 February at Barcelona in Spain.

However, so far, few models have been available of environmentally friendly mobile phones.
There is a slow shift however, as the mobile phone industry looks desperately for ways to appeal to a growing segment of consumers who want to reduce their carbon footprint.

The greenest of cell phones by far, the Samsung Blue Earth handset is currently on display at the Mobile World Congress. The phone has a touch screen front and a solar panel back, used to charge the phone. Fully charging the phone via solar power takes between 10 and 14 hours for four hours of talk time.

Users could also plug the phone into a charger and use solar power to extend talk time. Like the upcoming Powcell sleeves for the iPhone and BlackBerry Curve, the panel is ideally meant for topping off a battery. The handset is made from PCM recycled plastic extracted from water bottles.
The specs are still awaited but a few software features add to its environment friendly tag. The phone can be used in 'eco mode' which adjusts the screen brightness, backlight duration and Bluetooth to energy efficient settings and there's an app called 'eco-walk' that counts the number of steps and shows how much trees the user has saved.

The packaging for Samsung Blue Earth phone is designed to be both small and light, made from recycled paper, and comes with a 5-star energy efficient charger which uses standby power lower than 0.03W and has no toxic chemicals often used in electronics, such as brominated flame retardants, beryllium or phthalates.

Just when Samsung introduced its solar powered touch phone, its Korean peer, LG also announced its solar powered clamshell phone. A 10-minute charge is said to give up to 3 minutes of talk time. Like Samsung phone, this one too has a 360-degree green approach.

The phone made from bio-plastic is free from 6 RoHS hazardous substances (lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium 6, PBB, PBDE). LG has also worked on the standby power consumption and even has an eco-friendly manual, which is printed with soy ink on a recycled paper.

Not one to be left behind, Motorola displays its MOTO W233 Renew at the MWC. The W233 is also made using plastic from recycled water bottles and can be entirely recycled. The phone costs $9.99 with a two-year contract. The packaging in which the phone is sold in made of 100-per cent recycled paper and includes a prepaid shipping envelope for buyers to send in their old mobile phone for recycling.

Besides, Motorola will pay to offset the carbon emissions created to manufacture and distribute the unit, as well as to recycle it at the end of its life. The payment will also cover the first two years of use. Motorola says the W233 is the first carbon-neutral phone.

Sony Ericsson's own GreenHeart is made with recycled biodegradable components and the charger uses a fraction of the electricity common chargers draw.

Among the products on display at the MWC is a Nokia phone that includes a sensor that detects natural light, allowing the phone to save energy. The Nokia 5630 Xpress Music released last week has a preloaded application called ''we:offset'' that lets users measure their carbon emissions. There is also a link to a payment form for people who want to pay to offset the pollution they create.

Another green solar-powered, low-cost mobile phone that is on the way comes from ZTE, a Chinese manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, and the Latin American service provider Digicel. This product could be appealing in parts of the world where there is limited or no access to electricity.

Intivation, a highly innovative Dutch start-up company is all set to offer a solar-powered handset specifically to developing countries. The Dutch company uses an innovative converter that takes 0.5v from a solar cell and steps it up to the 3.7v needed for any lithium ion mobile phone battery.

Intivation also announced a solar-powered charging case for the iPhone, which it says more than doubles battery use. The Intivation technology is being used in a ZTE-made handset, the Coral-200 Solar, which is being deployed by the Digicell Group from this June.

Other ways manufacturers are promoting their environmental credentials include loading their products with applications that allow users to offset their emissions.

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Mobile phone makers moving to solar-powered handsets