Chinese company Umeox Mobile recently announced one of the first smartphones to be put into production that can be changed using solar power.
Debuting at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Umeox Apollo leverages a solar backing produced by the Amsterdam based firm Intivation, which provides similar solutions for other cellphones. The Umeox Apollo, however, is the first to use an Android 2.2 operating system.
A touch-based screen with 1GB of Flash memory and 512 MB of RAM, the Umeox Apollo is a competitive smart phone that comes with a 3 megapixel camera.
But those standard specifications aren't the draw for the Apollo, as the solar charging capability is what makes the phone unique.
American consumers may someday see this phone, but for now distribution is outside U.S. borders. The phone is estimated to run in the neighborhood of $100, a good price for the American marketplace should it ever be distributed here in the States.
The solar powered backing would no doubt appeal to those who enjoy outdoor recreations, contractors, field scientists, and anyone else who spends a good deal of time outside and away from an electrical outlet. The phone isn't, however, completely free from needing a traditional plug-in charge.
Although the phone can charge in under 3 hours if needing a boost, it would take 17 hours of impossible to find sunlight in order to be fully functional. The solar back has an energy efficiency of about 16%, good but not great.
Still, it's an innovative product with a rugged design that incorporates the intelligently designed Android operating system, making the Umeox Apollo a nice benchmark that domestic phones should look to reach or exceed.