The biggest inconvenience with cell (or “wireless”) phones is the fact that its primary means of powering itself is via a battery. And we all know what it’s like to “run out of juice” where you have to purposely disconnect a call or scramble for a power cord just to keep connected.

Has there ever been a method of actively charging a cell phone using solar power?


But they weren’t too attractive for two very good reasons:

1. Bulky.

This universal charger is absolutely enormous and would serve to do nothing but get in the way most of the time.

There have also been innovators that have attempted to make a cell phone with an array built into it. But once again it’s huge compared to today’s compact phones.

2. Doesn’t charge as well as traditional current.

A drawback to solar power has always been that it simply doesn’t deliver the same power efficiency as plug-in-the-car or plug-in-the-wall current.

. . .

Another reason why modern cell phones positively suck at holding a charge is because they’re loaded with too much crap.

If you had a cell phone that:

  1. Did not have a backlit screen.
  2. Had a screen that was super-simple monochrome-only (very similar to a digital wristwatch).
  3. Had no speakerphone.
  4. Only played monophonic ringtones (no MIDI, no MP3’s, etc.)
  5. Operates as a phone only (no text messaging, no games, no internet, etc.)
  6. Had a chassis that was slightly thicker to accommodate for a bigger battery.
  7. Was powered by a lithium ion battery.

…you could probably talk on it for five hours straight. When you eliminate all the crap, the phone battery lasts much longer.

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The solar-powered cell phone would be difficult to bring to fruition, but a phone that if designed to be ultra-simple would extend battery life by a very large margin.

If you’re saying to yourself “Isn’t that how cell phones used to be?”, you’d be correct. However they weren’t powered by lithium ion batteries. They were either NiCd or NiMH.

If you’re now saying “Okay! I’ll buy an old cell phone and put in a new Li-ion battery!”

You can’t do that.

Most older cell phones do not have E911 capability and several US states will not allow the registration of new service on a wireless phone if the phone doesn’t have it equipped.

However, if you are able to locate a basic used cell phone with E911 (try eBay) that can be equipped with a new replacement Li-ion battery, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how long the battery life will be.