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The Coral-200 brings a solar powered phone design at a bargain price of $40, thanks to China's ZTE.  (Source: ZTE)
ZTE is aiming its solar phone at the masses

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.

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I hope we see more of this...
By quiksilvr on 3/2/2009 7:00:18 PM , Rating: 0
Solar back panels on cellphones are starting to look stylish and (dare I say it?) sexy looking. It's especially useful when you're stranded on an island and need to call someone.

RE: I hope we see more of this...
By Cullinaire on 3/2/2009 7:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
The only issue I see is, how many people carry phones in a way that lets them get any light?
Someone's going to have to make little poolside vinyl recliners for the phones now.

RE: I hope we see more of this...
By quiksilvr on 3/2/2009 7:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
People can just use bluetooth headsets and set their phones down anywhere with sunlight

RE: I hope we see more of this...
By Supa on 3/2/2009 8:07:58 PM , Rating: 2
then the bluetooth headsets need to have solar cell too. ;)


By UsernameX on 3/2/2009 9:20:39 PM , Rating: 2
This is a useful advance in cell phone technology. Forget your charger at home? No prob, just let the sun do some work!

Question though:
Will UV based lights function the same way? (excuse my ignorance)

RE: I hope we see more of this...
By Kougar on 3/3/2009 4:52:42 AM , Rating: 2
Yes... for hours at a time? Thieves are going to love this phone too!

RE: I hope we see more of this...
By quiksilvr on 3/3/2009 2:15:21 PM , Rating: 2
I meant so that your hand doesn't block the panels. Or you can just get a belt clip (hey, you're already wearing a bluetooth headset, might as well make your dorkiness more refined)

RE: I hope we see more of this...
By Kougar on 3/3/2009 3:45:57 PM , Rating: 2
Well certainly. My comment wasn't pointed at you so much as at the fact that in order to charge of of these efficiently it needs to be positioned with the solar cells pointed at the sun. One hour yields 15 minutes of talk time... so people are going to be leaving these phones in windows, on tabletops, where ever there is direct sunlight. Which means it would be easy pickings for thieves.

Except for people that spend more time out in the wilderness or travel so much they are constantly outdoors 15 mintues per hour of charging is just a gimmick. Just bring a wall or USB charger and spend 15 minutes charging the thing for hours of talk time instead.

By KingstonU on 3/2/2009 10:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
Also the solar panel seems to be in the lower half of the back of the cell phone, when I hold my cell the portion that is covered the most by my hand is the bottom half. I guess it is meant to charge whenever you are not making a call, like hooked to your waist belt.

I love the fact that it is a simple phone that has been made more efficient at what it is intended to do, make phone calls, and be very cheap and green.

RE: I hope we see more of this...
By Noya on 3/2/2009 9:32:58 PM , Rating: 2
useful when you're stranded on an island and need to call someone

I didn't know random uninhabited islands have cell towers (no less ones that can transmit across the oceans)...

RE: I hope we see more of this...
By xxeonn on 3/3/2009 1:14:33 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't know random uninhabited islands have cell towers (no less ones that can transmit across the oceans)...

Well to answer that question we do have random uninhabited islands just off the coast of Jamaica. Fishing is one of Jamaica's biggest industries and a lot of times fisher men get stranded on these island. Digicel then made it a part of there mission to have total island coverage including a few miles of the coast of the island to accomodate fisher men.

I am definatly sure fisher men in this situation would be grateful for a cell phone that could charge off the light from the sun, especially since they spend days at a time at sea.

By afkrotch on 3/3/2009 8:47:35 AM , Rating: 5
Can just get a solar cellphone charger instead. Then you aren't limited to a single cellphone handset.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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