Battery life is an important worry for smartphone users. Because the phone is in constant use, batteries most times can’t take us through a whole day. Little wonder why people carry extra batteries around. With the world looking at renewable energy sources, the idea of solar energy keeping our devices ready for action is an interesting one.

Imagine that you have a flat battery. With a standard mains phone charger, you know that if you are outdoors, there is little or nothing you can do. However, should you be indoors, you plug in to the mains and then wait a while for your phone to get charged. During the charging process, you consume electricity which costs money. As such, at the end of the day you are not only paying your service provider to use your phone, you are also paying the electric company to charge your phone.

With solar cell phone charges, these issues are sort of handled differently. If your phone’s battery is flat while you are outdoors, no worries as long as the sun is shining. Strike that. If you are outdoors, your phone battery should not die out on you at all, but consistently receive a trickle of charge to keep it alive.

Samsung S7550 Blue Earth is an example of solar energy for mobile phones

Samsung already has the E1107 Crest Solar and S7550 Blue Earth in the market since 2009. Both have built-in solar charging panels on the back of the phones. Of course, the solar panels of these devices are not capable of powering them. They only top up the battery if it’s running low and you’re away from your charger. Still, that’s not bad.

Apple was awarded a patent this year for a solar charging system for portable devices. Now, fashion icon Ralph Lauren has come out with a stylish solar panel backpack. Stylish. But wieldy. Just to power a phone! The backpack uses a solar panel to produce about 3 watts of power, enough to charge a phone for about three hours on a sunny day. Although this cannot charge a tablet due to its hefty battery.

Ralph Lauren’s RLX solar backpack comes at $800 for U.S. Customers. Expensive; yes. But this luxury item may just be a forerunner of a growing trend in harnessing solar energy for mobile technology. Time will tell.

In the meantime, there are already several portable solar charging packs on sale that can be used to charge a wide variety of phones. Many of them go for below $50, so they are quite affordable. They are an extra package to carry, but perhaps you might need one someday.

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By Mister Mobility

Nigeria's foremost tech blogger and smartphone reviewer. Call me Daddy.

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