Solar-powered phones for real?

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Today’s mobile phones rely on electricity to maintain their charge. New solar-powered phones are currently being developed that could make plugging in a phone charger a thing of the past.

Chinese handset manufacturer TCL Communication has partnered with French firm Sunpartner to create smartphones that can recharge using solar power. The mobile phones have screens fitted with translucent Wysips crystals. Wysips is an acronym for “What You See Is Photovoltaic Surface”.

Sunpartner said the partnership will develop smartphone prototypes that use energy from the sun and artificial light, a technology that will help TCL in both marketing and technical aspects.

This is not the first time that TCL has teamed up with a French firm. The company currently supplies its OneTouch phone to France-based mobile phone maker Alcatel. Overall, the Chinese firm sells its handsets in more than 120 countries.

TCL and Sunpartner believe that installing a super-thin film of Wysips crystals beneath the screen will allow phones to draw enough power from the sun. An hour’s worth of sunlight is likely enough to power a 30-minute phone call.

Aside from that, Sunpartner will also collaborate with two other smartphone companies. The contracts will likely be finalised later this year, while the issuing of licenses could occur by 2014.

In addition to the €9 million it managed to raise in the past three years, the French firm also plans to raise another €6 million for the manufacturing of Wysips crystals in Aix-en-Provence in Southern France.

Moving forward, the company intends to use the Wysips crystals in other mobile devices such as tablets, e-watches and e-book readers.

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