Nokia: solar smartphones a non-starter
Nokia has ruled out employing solar power to charge handsets in the near future after a study revealed it was impractical.
Nokia ran a research project involving test phones deployed from the Arctic Circle to Africa to assess whether solar power could alleviate the critical battery life problems of smartphones.
The prototype phones featured a solar panel on the back aimed at running the phone in areas without ready access to electricity, but the researchers discovered multiple problems that will come as little surprise to sceptics.
When carefully positioned, the prototype phones were able, at best, to harvest enough energy to keep the phone on standby mode
“The tests showed that charging a mobile phone by simply using a solar charging panel on the back cover is possible but challenging,” the company said in a blog post.
“When carefully positioned, the prototype phones were able, at best, to harvest enough energy to keep the phone on standby mode but with a very restricted amount of talk time. There’s still some way to go before a workable and care-free solution is achieved.”
According to Nokia, the most substantial challenge was the limited size of a phone’s back cover, which restricted the extent to which the battery could be charged.
Unsurprisingly, the best results were achieved by testers with sedentary jobs in sunnier climes, with a security guard in Kenya that was immobile for much of the day running the phone reasonably effectively.
More northerly latitudes proved more difficult and required constant exposure to sunlight when it was available.
“Reasonably good results were also obtained when the tester was able to carry the phone while moving around outdoors, for instance in a holder around his neck,” Nokia reported. “However, this isn’t necessarily the most stylish or convenient arrangement, and another solution is needed.”