Are Solar Mobiles Bright for Renters?

New, solar-powered cell phones sound like a good idea, but are they bright for landline-less renters?

Samsung and LG recently released solar cells into the market. Good news for eco-philes: Be green and get rid of another pesky cord. But think about it: If you've gotten rid of your landline and only have a cell, this might not be the wisest choice. Here's why.

Samsung's Blue Earth (pictured) and the LG Pop require a lot of sun for a little talk time - not a good thing if you live in a sun-challenged apartment (especially if you're at work during prime tanning hours). Here's a break-down:
LG's GD510 or "Pop" requires 10 minutes under the sun for a mere 2 minutes 15 seconds of talk time (or 180 minutes of standby). That means you'd need 4.5 hours of sun-charging for just 1 hour of talk time. If you're a seldom-talker that might work, but if this is your primary phone, you'll likely need to plug it in, just like any other phone. No one wants to get stuck incommunicado. The GD510 was just released in Europe and LG hasn't announced a date yet for U.S. release, but depending on the price point, this might not be a good idea for renters. And note: the solar battery cover is an optional upgrade, and doesn't come standard with the phone.

Samsung's Blue Earth stats haven't been released yet but the touch-screen phone comes with all the same features as the LG - it's made from recycled water bottles; has a low-energy "eco setting"; is free of chemicals normally found in mobiles; has an energy-efficient charger; and has a smug built-in pedometer that allows you to calculate how much CO2 you saved by walking verses driving. Blue Earth launched in green-loving Sweden this month, other European countries to follow; no word on a U.S. release yet.
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