DailyTech previously reported on the upcoming solar-powered smart phone from Samsung, the Blue Earth. While some are excited that this entry may bring efficient solar power to the masses, saving power and batteries, others fear that it will be overpriced.
For those looking for a cheaper solution, their hopes have been answered. Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE has unveiled its new Coral-200 phone, a solar handset priced for the masses. The handset comes in at a sweet $40 USD and features a layout similar to the LG Chocolate's when the keyboard is exposed. It is also a virtual lookalike to the ZTE C78 currently with U.S. carrier MetroPCS.
The candy bar-sized phone delivers 15 minutes of talk time for every hour it spends in light. The phone has a color LCD screen and can be recharged from wall outlets, as well as from light sources. Details about the phone's thin solar cells are scarce, but word is that the company is using advanced Dutch solar technology.
ZTE hopes to target the over 2 billion people around the world that don't have access to the power grid, as well as industrialized nations, for the phone's sales. In order to reach such nations, ZTE has partnered with Digicel, one of the biggest carriers in emerging markets.
Digicel, which already offers solar chargers, has dramatically increased cell phone usage in Latin America over the past several years. In 2001, when it entered the market in Jamaica, cell phone penetration was at roughly 32 percent in the country. Today it is at over 90 percent thanks largely to Digicel. Digicel is currently looking to bring cell phones to countries in Africa, many of which have large populations off the power grid.
There's thus far been no official word about what if any carriers will offer the phone in the U.S., but it seems likely someone will pick it up this hot phone, perhaps MetroPCS. The phone hits the streets worldwide in June.
quote: useful when you're stranded on an island and need to call someone
quote: I didn't know random uninhabited islands have cell towers (no less ones that can transmit across the oceans)...