Nokia: The Sun Is Yet To Shine On Solar Smartphones!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on January 5, 2012

Image Courtesy Nokia Conversations

Smartphone technology has improved exponentially thereby making mobile phones stronger, faster and better. However, draining batteries and the need to periodically charge a mobile phone continues to be a concern for customers and smartphone manufacturers alike.

Though wireless electricity offers a hassle-free solution to the phone charging problem, the technology isn’t prime time yet. Therefore, OEMs across the world have been exploring alternate mobile phone charging options. To that effect, Nokia researchers recently concluded that “charging a mobile phone by simply using a solar charging panel on the back cover is possible but challenging.

Simply put, it means that solar-powered smartphones seem to be distant reality, at least for now.

Nokia used a prototype phone (aka Nokia Lokki) featuring a solar panel embedded in the back cover and tested its solar charging capabilities in the Arctic Circle, in southern Sweden, Kenya and by a team member sailing on the Baltic Sea. The Finnish giant said the prototype phones were able to harvest enough solar energy to allow the phone to remain on standby mode but didn’t offer enough power to improve talk time.

The company says the limited size of a phone’s back cover poses a huge challenge for charging through a small-sized solar panel. Nokia Researchers claimed that the phone had better performance in areas closer to the equator with more direct sunlight. The angle and amount of sunlight exposed on the solar panel also impacted the phone’s charging capabilities. Since the phones needed constant sunlight, researchers were forced to carry them around their necks to get the maximum possible charge – not a pretty sight and certainly not a convenient way to carry your cellphone.

“When carefully positioned, the prototype phones were able, at best, to harvest enough energy to keep the phone on standby mode but with a very restricted amount of talk time. There’s still some way to go before a workable and care-free solution is achieved. Reasonably good results were also obtained when the tester was able to carry the phone while moving around outdoors, for instance in a holder around his neck. However, this isn’t necessarily the most stylish or convenient arrangement, and another solution is needed,” the company said in a blog post.

Though several critics believe Nokia’s Solar Powered Phone is “a rubbish idea“, I beg to differ. I strongly believe that solar power should be looked at an alternate means of charging rather than the “only means of charging”. Technology is improving at a dramatic pace and it would be unwise to rule out solar power as futuristic technology for charging mobile phones.

In that respect, Nokia isn’t the first company to try its hand at solar-powered mobile phones. Last April, Samsung and Sprint released the Replenish smartphone that had an optional back cover that could recharge the battery with just sunlight. While that experiment wasn’t vastly successful, the signs were encouraging.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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