Solar Guru on the train
The Samsung Solar Guru is a normal candybar phone with a working solar panel on the back. This is pretty cool and it really does charge. The only issue is that it gets like one minute of talktime for every hour in the sun. So not very practical. If you were stuck on a desert island it might be useful, but you still have to plug it into the wall. I bought one in Chennai to test it out and while it does last for a long time, it is not easy to get that much sun time. You can sorta keep it next to you on a bus or train, but it’s rather awkward. When walking you can keep it on your hand, but not for the hours required. I think the thing might work better if it came with a case or a belt-clip.
I was in the sun for hours a day and spoke for like 10 minutes a day, so it might have semi-worked. As it was, however, the solar panel was in my pocket getting close contact with linen. All that happened was that I got black and had to plug the phone into the wall at night. That said, I was able to go days without charging this phone, but that may just be its nature.
The Guru is a very simple color phone, no Internet browser, no 3G, just a phone. The SMS was a bit annoying cause the T9 would keep turning off but that’s my only complaint. It had a flash-light which really saved my knees many times in various bat-infested forts. However, there are many cheaper phones that do the same things. The only difference the Guru has is that it carries its own solar charger, but the charge is so weak that it’s essentially a gimmick. If I was stuck on a desert island (with signal) I could leave the thing out for an hour to charge. When you’re stuck in some town or hamlet, however, it’s not especially viable. Just find a plug point like anybody else.
It’s a cool proof of concept. A cheap phone with solar power. Just not especially practical. It’s still a fun phone to carry around.