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Umeox Apollo Android handset has its own built-in solar charger

Umeox Mobile has shown off an Android smart phone that laughs in the face of battery death, thanks to a built-in solar charger. We're not sure when the touchscreen device will come to the UK though.

Umeox's new Apollo smart phone laughs in the face of low battery life. Well, it does as long as you don't take it to Manchester. The newly announced Android handset has its own built-in solar charger, to keep it juiced with the sun's rays as you go through the day.

Not heard of Umeox? That might not be surprising: the Chinese firm tends to sell its phones through operators around the world, rather than under its own name. That's likely to be the plan with the Apollo, so expect it to have a different name if and when it comes to the UK.

The phone runs Google's Android OS, and has a 3.2-inch display. There's 1GB of flash memory inside, as well as a 3-megapixel camera. The device measures 110 by 57 by 15mm, and has a cheery red design, although presumably that's up for changing according to whatever operators prefer when selling the Apollo.

The solar charger is on the back surface, around the camera, covering an area of 24 square centimetres. That's logical positioning, since (in theory) Apollo's solar cells will be catching the sun while you talk. The downside: if you're sat outside, for example at a pub table, you'll need to lay it face-down in order for it to get solar juice.

Umeox's Apollo is clearly intended to sit at the more affordable end of the Android spectrum, with specs that won't worry the likes of HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG's high-end models. What we don't know yet is how much cost that solar charger adds on to the price. Given a choice between a more powerful Android phone that needs charging once a day, and the Apollo -- assuming they cost the same -- we'd stick with the former.

Even so, we're pleased to see solar charging coming o nto the radar of the mobile industry. As phones get more and more powerful, and apps and games get more battery-sapping, the sun could soon be the answer to our low-juice woes.