Solar-charging screen could augment your phone’s battery life

by: Andrew GrushJune 14, 2013


From quad-core processors to 1080p displays, today’s mobile devices are very powerful and seem to push innovation into just about every aspect.

Unfortunately, one area that seems to be somewhat ignored is battery life. While many of today’s devices can endure a fully day’s use on a single charge, they do so because they have massive batteries, not because we’ve somehow come up with a better way to keep our devices charged for longer. Sure, we can optimize hardware and create software that can tune down settings to lengthen battery life, but that’s about it.

We are constantly being promised innovative battery technologies that will “change everything”, except they never seem to leap beyond the realm of testing or theory. So instead of pushing some new battery tech, why not a new screen tech that could extend the life of your phone in between charges? A small French startup called SunPartner Group hopes to push out a new transparent panel that could essentially allow your screen to give your phone an extra boost of energy, using the power of the sun.

Right now SunPartner is testing the display tech with “a number of manufacturers” and claims it could start arriving in devices early next year. How does it work? The company will uses strips of standard thin-film solar cells alternating with transparent film. From there it adds a layer of tiny lenses that spread the image from the screen so that the opaque stripes aren’t visible.


Apparently the current prototype is 82 percent transparent, though future versions will hit 90 percent. Additionally the cost here is pretty low, adding about $2.30 to the build price of each phone that uses the tech.

The big question is whether the charging technology extends our phone life long enough to make it worth it. SunPartner claims that it will extend battery life by about 20 percent during normal use, provided of course you set it out in areas where it can actually take advantage of the sun’s rays. While 20% isn’t the end of the world, it is still a step forward.

Personally I am a little curious how good it is for a phone to be left directly pointed at the sun’s rays for extended periods – then again, maybe it doesn’t make that much of a difference.

What do you think of the SunPartner Group’s transparent screen insert tech? Is this kind of solar tech something you could see becoming commonplace or is also destined to never reach beyond the testing stages?

  • MasterMuffin

    “The company will uses stripes” and “than again”. I know this may be annoying, but sometimes I just have to do this even though these are typos and everyone still understands what you mean. At least I’ve stopped the annoying “***TYPO ALERT!!***” thing (I used to add that to the beginning of my comment if I found typos) :)

    • Dtect

      Please don’t ever stop :3

    • Grammar Nazi

      No you don’t have to. Everybody understands, and nobody care.

      • MasterMuffin

        Grammar Nazi, what have they done to you. Are they blackmailing you??

  • of course you could buy one of those amazing solar charging apps in the app store

  • brown

    to charge the phone have to use it under direct sunlight.
    but people rarely use phone under direct sunlight (visibility issue).
    unless it able to charge when screen off (it should be).

    • WestFiasco

      My question is what good is it going to do for the components to expose the phone to direct sunlight for extended periods of time, maybe i’m being paranoid but i’m thinking my battery may explode.

    • Dtect

      I don’t think it MUST be in direct sunlight. That would be a very irresponsible thing to do.

      Considering an average-intelligence minded person would not place their phone in direct sunlight, the solar charging would probably only improve battery life by 10% at most?

      Solar charging isn’t incredibly efficient so….

  • Joshua Martin

    This stuff is just fun to blog over and debate about, but I doubt we’ll see it ever implemented within the next few years. They would also have to be a way for it to directly not impact display quality of the device.

  • Dtect

    It’d be absolutely GREAT to have this as well as TI’s revolutionary battery upgrades implemented into smartphones, tablets and all other portable gear.

    We’ll probably be waiting 2 years at the very least. Damn it.

  • milksop held

    Would be better off putting a panel on the back or bezels

  • Raaj

    ***TYPO ALERT!!***

    A small French startup called SunPartner Group hopes to push out a new transparent panel that could essentially allow your screen to give your phone an extra “boast” of energy, using the power of the sun.

    (Muffin Master.. you missed a spot :-P)

    • MasterMuffin

      :D I don’t search for them, I just sometimes comment about the ones I noticed while reading

  • Magnetic1

    Screen definitely has to be glass. And the body maybe has to be like unibody aluminum. I think plastic will warp and be bad under the sun.

  • nishantsirohi123

    The “charging by light” technology has been used in watches which is said to run on any type of light(the ads showed fireflies)

    it is a great concept, if placed in the phone, it could even utilize the back light of the screen itself (like a hybrid car type system).

    This is a great idea, and need to be properly implemented

  • SolarThis..!..

    File this under “dead babies”

  • wonshikee

    I have a revolutionary idea, let’s stop making phones a thin as possible, add a mm or two and just put in a bigger battery!

  • Lisandro O Oocks

    here’s my idea: a case that charges your phone by different already used methods.
    some of them are:
    1. shaking the phone, just like the shakeable lamps
    2. rubbing the phone on carpet or a cloth to create heat energy from friction
    3. solar, why not.
    4. cranking it, again like a cranking lamp
    5. perhaps the case could return some of the heat energy bursted by the phone back into the phone

    can anyone come up with more ideas for a case that could charge the phone?

  • districtjack

    other than that it has no purpose who’s going to leave their phone out in the Sun?

  • Robert Crosby

    this will be a good addition to flexible OLEDS screens provided by samsung
    i love inovation

  • Koost