Samsung’s Crest Solar Cell Phone Launches Overseas

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11:26:45 am on June 30, 2009

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could charge your cell phone just by setting it out in the sun? As long as the sun was shining, you’d never have to worry about forgetting your charger and running out of juice!

This month, Samsung is releasing a new cell phone called the Crest Solar. As the name suggests, the Crest Solar is equipped with a small solar panel to help charge the phone. So, will the sun power your next cell phone? Probably not…we still have a ways to go before solar power can be efficiently harnessed to power a phone. In fact, the Crest Solar is primarily powered by a regular cell phone battery. The small solar panel on the back of the phone can charge the battery, but only provides about 5 to 10 minutes of talk time for each hour it spends in the sun, according to a press release Samsung put out about the product.

Obviously, having to lay your phone on its back in the sun for an entire hour for a measly 5 to 10 minutes of talk time is not an appealing prospect for most Americans. The phone has some extra features, including a radio, games, MP3 ringtones and a service that alerts you if your SIM card is removed from the phone. Not bad, but still pretty basic…I can’t see a phone like this turning into the next big thing here unless the solar charging capability is improved dramatically.

Of course, Samsung is not releasing the Crest Solar in the US. Instead, the phone will be released in India, Europe, South America and South Asia. That’s probably a smart business decision, since I really can’t see this phone catching on in the US, except perhaps among hardcore backpackers and long-distance hikers. Until the technology improves to the point where cell phones can be more quickly and easily powered by the sun, if you need to take your cell phone “off the grid,” look into a portable solar powered charger instead. They often offer faster charging times, and have different adapters to charge a variety of different devices.

There currently is no ADR that allows you to invest directly in Samsung on a US exchange, but the iShares South Korea ETF (ticker: EWY) provides some exposure with Samsung currently making up about 18% of that ETF.

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