Nokia Improves Solar Charging: Adds Two Minutes Talk Time for Each Minute Charging

October 14, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

Nokia is testing a new solar charging accessory in Nigeria and Kenya, as the company hopes to make it easier for people without regular access to electricity to use their phones, it said in a blog post recently. The Portable Solar Charger DC-40 can turn one minute of charging into two minutes of talk time, according to Nokia. The charging mat uses a thin-film photovoltaic panel, weighs 93 grams and has a 3 meter long cable to connect to the phone via Nokia's standard 2 millimeter plug.

This isn't the first time Nokia has tested the potential of solar charging. In January this year the company reported on a research project that placed a solar charger on the back of a phone. Problems with that included the limited size of a phone's back cover, which restricted the size of the panel, and the extent to which the battery could be charged, Nokia said at the time. Few people can leave their phone lying in the sun all day while it charges.

By using an external charger this time around, Nokia can give the charger a much larger surface to capture sunlight. Thousands of people in Nigeria and Kenya are set to pilot the Solar Charger. The pilot will be studied to see the product's business potential, usage patterns, the environmental and social impacts, and whether it could be introduced for full commercial production.

"Sales of the Solar Charger will start this week, and we're very excited to see what the public response will be," says Petteri Alinikula, from Nokia's Sustainability team. "The Nokia Solar Charger is the first step to solving a fundamental problem; hundreds of millions Nokia product users do not have electricity easily available in their daily surroundings to charge their products."

Kenya and Nigeria provide the perfect opportunity for testing the DC-40, Nokia said, citing data from the World Bank that indicated that only 16 percent of Kenyans and 51 per cent of Nigerians had regular access to electricity between 2007 and 2011.

The pilot will study the product's business potential, usage patterns and environmental and social impacts, according to Nokia. Sales of the DC-40 will start this week.