By Stephen Schenck | January 4, 2012 3:30 PM
Every once in a while, we see a manufacturer get it into its head that it wants to jump on the “green” bandwagon and try producing a handset that gets at least some of its power from sun. It’s an admirable goal, and who wouldn’t want a smartphone that they didn’t have to keep plugging-in every night in order to keep it charged? Samsung released an optional solar-charging battery cover for its Replenish, and we’ve also heard about solar-powered phones from the likes of ZTE. Nokia started thinking about the solar option recently, and put phones to the test to see just how useful a solar panel really might be.
Nokia strapped a solar panel to some handsets and sent them out for testing all around the world. Location turns out to matter quite a bit, and areas closer to the equator with more direct sun coverage saw better performance. Ultimately, the company found plenty of things that detracted from a phone’s ability to effectively harness the sun, and even under ideal conditions, the power produced was negligible, barely able to keep a phone powered in standby mode.
For these tests, Nokia used one of its feature phones, but the results carry right over to smartphones; it actually sounds like a bit of a double-edged sword, since there’s higher power consumption to deal with, but also the opportunity for larger devices with more surface area and hence, more space for solar cells. If things sounded promising for feature phones, Nokia might have looked more into the possibility of solar-powered smartphones, but as it stands, the solar technology just isn’t mature enough to act as a phone’s primary power source.