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China may get solar phone next month

Effectiveness debated, but it's progress

Unwired View

China isn't exactly known for its environmental sensitivities, so we were somewhat surprised to hear that it could be the source of one of the first mass-market solar phones. Then again, if there's a chance for a successful new industry, Chinese entrepreneurs are likely to be somewhere nearby.

Shenzhen-based HTW Electronics says it will introduce a mobile phone in China next month that's essentially covered with solar cells that charge its battery, according to Mobility Site and Unwired View. The handset needs to be exposed to direct sunlight to absorb the solar energy effectively--not ideal for phones usually carried in a pocket--so the rays may end up being more of a supplemental power source than anything else.

If the phone does get to do some sunbathing, however, it supposedly can get up to 25 minutes of talk time on 40 minutes of charging. Even on a cloudy day or at night, HTW says the handset can even run briefly on the energy of five candles in a pinch.

Candles to power a cell phone. Now that's an interesting concept.