By June 17, 2009

Is Blue the next Green?

Yesterday we had a power cut.  For around 10 hours we were deprived of our computers, internet, Facebook, Twitter and a host of other daily “essentials”  When I say “WE”, I mean the whole island!  That’s right, approximately 700,000 people without power.  In my technological nakedness, I was trying desperately to find somewhere to charge my laptop and phone.  I had “forgot” to charge my phones and stuff the night before.  This got me thinking. I needed a way to charge my phone without a power socket, and sitting in the midday heat of Malta, I had a brainstorm.  Solar Power!

It seems some clever chaps from Samsung had already thought of this before me.  Whilst I was busy looking online in the wee hours of this morning for a Solar charger, I came across the Blue Earth phone.


Samsung Blue Earth

The idea is brilliant.  Take a bundle of old water  bottles, re-mould them into a fetching blue design, stick a screen on it and a solar panel, and market the first “eco friendly” green phone and with this we can be more green!.  Most office calculators are using solar power nowadays and bus stops are usually honking great arrays of solar panels in Germany, so it made sense.  Then I had a think about it, and a read of a few of the comments online.  Lets break this down a bit.

This is what Samsung has to say on their website (

Samsung Blue Earth is the first solar powered full-touch screen phone

Solar Panel on the back of the phone

Eco- friendly phone made from recycled plastic extracted from water bottles

Free from harmful substances such as Brominated Flame Retardant, Beryllium and

Eco-UI: Eco-mode / Eco-calendar / Eco-walk

5 star energy efficient charger which uses standby power lower than 0.03W

Small and light package made from recycled paper

All very impressive.  But is it just baloney and a marketing gimmick?

Sony Ericsson didn’t as much say “what a load of tosh” but reading in between the lines that’s what I understood when I read their  website  (

One feature that we get a lot of questions about are solar cells. We have been evaluating and tracked developments in the area of solar cells for years. As long as there is no breakthrough in manufacturing or efficiency it is not beneficial to put a solar cell on a phone from environmental point of view.


Current solar cells placed on a phone will, in their life time not generate enough energy to compensate for the energy it took to produce them. They are made out of silicon and to produce them takes a lot of energy.

Current solar cells which are the size of a phone can not replace a charger. The the size vs. efficiency of best cells today makes it impossible to generate enough energy.


There may be several reasons to put a solar cell on a phone but at current state of technology environmental benefit is not one of them.

Pretty decent argument against it.  Especially the line about not being able to generate enough energy to compensate the energy it took to produce.  So why have Samsung done it?

I love playing devils advocate 🙂

Samsung didn’t say that the solar panel would produce MORE energy that it took to produce said panel in the first place.  It does say though that the mobile could theoretically last a long time without the need for external power.  It DOES say that large-ish solar panel reduces / removes the need for a charger, even indoors.  That means if this phone lasts 10 years without breaking, then it will consume energy from solar power without ever having to use a wall socket, and ultimately not reduce CO2, but not produce any either.

Sony Ericsson are saying its just a marketing gimmick, and they are producing MORE CO2 than the phone is reducing.

If this is an “Eco Friendly” phone, why stick a great big touch screen on it?  Wouldn’t a smaller screen be more suitable? People are used to sacrificing functionality for the sake of the environment.  Look at the Prius.

Toyota have got into hot water about claims..  with over 168,000 units sold in 2008, Toyota admitted that it cost MORE CO2 to produce the car, than a normal gas guzzler, however claimed that over its life time it SAVED 43% of CO2 in a comparable car, due to its fuel efficiency.   They still haven’t told us how much more CO2 it costs to produce though.

Now..  until I get one of these in my hands to have a play, I will leave you with a few thoughts..

how the heck is it going to work when you have it in a pocket?

Unless my hands are suddenly made of glass, how am i going to benefit, even when I am outside on a gloriously sunny day?

Does it get delivered with oven mitts for when I leave it charging in the sun?

What is the operating temperature of the device?

Will it explode when i leave it on my car dashboard?

Why is no-one else marketing a solar powered phone?

If it costs MORE CO2 to produce than a normal phone, however uses significantly less energy and If the solar panel is SO good it can power itself even on over-clouded days, or indoors  ..  Why did they bundle it with a wall charger?

Posted by: Piero (MVP)

[ Post Tags: Samsung, Sony Ericsson,, Solar, Blue Earth]

Posted in: Editorial

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