First Solar-Powered U.S. Smartphone Debuts

July 11, 2011 2:28:47 PM

Scott Tharler

Samsung Replenish final

Samsung Replenish: With eligible activation or upgrade: $49.99 / Solar Charging Battery Panel: $29

Forget about the solar panel — just for a minute. Even without this optional accessory, Samsung Replenish is probably the coolest, greenest phone out there. It’s got all the Android 2.2 interface, messaging and multimedia bells and whistles. But it is also made from 82 percent recyclable materials, features an energy-efficient charger, comes in fully recyclable 80 percent post-consumer waste packaging, includes a postage-paid envelope to recycle your old phone and promotes a virtual user guide on the Sprint website. Not green enough? You can download Sprint’s Green ID Pack, which includes environmentally oriented applications, widgets, ringtones and wallpapers. Amongst the apps, you’ve got a carbon footprint calculator, a recycling drop-off locator, a buyer’s guide to energy-efficient lighting, a way to determine what local produce is in season and other eco-friendly news and ideas.

NEWS: Solar Panels for Your Pants

Okay, so let’s get to the solar factor. While it’s not the world’s first solar cell phone, it’s the first in the United States. Unfortunately, even though we followed these tips Samsung offers, we didn’t get a charge through the panel. According to Sprint, depending on conditions, an hour in direct sunlight can translate into as much as 20 minutes of talk time. After over an hour of idle time in the blazing sun, the Gauge Battery Widget we downloaded indicated a 1 percent loss in juice. But maybe we lost battery life slower than we would have? Like we said, even if you forego the solar factor, it’s still a super smart, usable phone, especially for the money.

Credit: Sprint