I've written that small solar panels, such as those coming on a new Samsung phone, are good for topping off a battery. But that few would depend on them for primary power.
I didn't take into account the developing world. Many countries have more cellphones than homes with electricity. They are the target for the upcoming Coral 200 Solar from ZTE. The Chinese manufacturer says the phone should sell for the equivalent of about $40, reported Singapore's Straits Times. The paper said ZTE has teamed with Digicel, a wireless company in the Caribbean, Central America and Pacific regions.
"In our lives (in the rich world), an interruption of power is a nuisance ... but it is infrequent," Digicel executive Tom Bryant told reporters. "But where we conduct business, the absence of power is a daily activity."
He said the solar charger accounted for about $10 of the cost. The paper added:
Gavin Byrne, an analyst at telecom research group Informa, pointed to the existence of 'charging booths' in some African countries where people pay to plug their phones in for a few hours because they have no electricity at home.
"There is an opportunity for solar-powered phones in emerging markets," he said. "That there are businesses charging up mobiles shows there is a latent demand for a charging device where there isn't a regular supply of power."