February 26, 2009 It definitely looks like solar was in at the recent Mobile World Congress as, following hot on the heels of the world’s first low-cost solar-powered mobile phone, comes the first solar-powered full-touch mobile phone from Samsung. Samsung are highlighting the eco-friendly credentials of the phone, which can be charged by the solar panel located on the back, calling it the "Blue Earth" and constructing it from recycled plastic.

The Blue Earth is designed to to symbolize a flat and well rounded shiny pebble and is built to reduce CO2 emissions and save energy at every stage of its life cycle - from its construction from recycled plastic called PCM, which is extracted from water bottles, helping to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions in the manufacturing process, through the unit’s recycled paper packaging and its solar-powered working life, to its ultimate recycling through a growing number of special take-back points worldwide.

The eco theme also carries over to the user interface, which is designed to draw attention to preserving the environment. One click of 'Eco mode' button sets screen brightness, backlight duration and Bluetooth to an energy-efficient mode while the 'eco walk' function counts a users steps with an in-built pedometer, calculating how much CO2 emissions have been reduced by walking as opposed to motor transport. This function also shows users the value of this reduced carbon footprint through the number of trees that have been saved – a nice touch that conveys often abstract environmental impacts into something easily understood.

Although the most environmentally friendly way to charge the phone is through the solar panel on the back, it does come with a 5 star energy efficient charger which uses standby power lower than 0.03W.

It’s easy to be cynical of companies seemingly jumping on the eco-bandwagon and view it is nothing but a marketing exercise, but even if that were the case, (and I’m definitely not saying that is what Samsung are doing), it’s great to see that eco-friendly has become a very strong selling point for consumers and, for whatever reason, it’s great to see companies like Samsung getting well and truly on board.

The Blue Earth is expected to be available later this year with rumors suggesting it will be at the upper end of the market.

Darren Quick

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