Digicel Group has unveiled the world’s first low-cost solar powered handset.
Manufactured by ZTE, the Coral 200 Solar has an integrated solar charger.
Digicel says the handset – which will cost under $40 – is aimed at emerging markets.
An estimated two billion people worldwide have limited or no access to mains electricity – and many of these live in areas with an almost constant supply of daytime sun.
The handset is basic. It features a 1.5-inch display, dual band GSM support, space for 300 phonebook entries, and predictive text messaging.
Although the handset is being marketed as environmentally friendly, its only eco-feature is the solar charger.
Unlike Samsung’s Blue Earth handset, it is not made with recycled plastics, and environmentally damaging chemicals are not avoided in the production process.
Digicel vice president of distribution Tom Bryant said: “Solar-powered handsets are clearly the way to meet the needs of power-challenged users across the globe.
“While the idea of solar-powered handsets has been around for some time, it has taken the leadership of Digicel and the technology and manufacturing skills of its partners Intivation and ZTE to make the Coral-200-Solar handset a reality.”
China-based equipment maker ZTE said the solar technology used for the Coral 200 could be installed into any type of mobile handset.
Launch of the Coral 200 Solar is expected in June.