Samsung’s Solar Cell Phone

That title has some nice alliteration doesn’t it? For the past few years I’ve had this goal in the back of my mind to take at least one of my electronic devices completely off the grid. Optimally, a solar charger for something like my laptop or cellphone. While such chargers do exist, they just haven’t been practical or cost effective enough for me to make the jump. (5.5 years of college didn’t lend itself to experimental spending either)

Samsung Blue Earth Phone

Samsung is delivering a device with the potential to prove the practicality of a device that can exist completely off the grid. Their “Blue Earth” phone is a touch screen phone with a solar cell on the back, taking up nearly all of the surface area on the back of the device. Samsung has really pushed the “green” theme far on this one. If the name isn’t enough, there’s also a calculator that will help you figure out what quanitity of resources you’ve conserved through your actions. Beyond superficial names and questionably gimicky applications, Samsung has made a serious step toward conservation by making the phone’s casing out of recycled plastic bottles, and they ship the phone in completely recycled paper packaging.

I hope that this concept doesn’t die with this model. I’d love to see effitient solar panels popping up on the backs of all sorts of devices. (Can I get one on a laptop lid please?) It’d be great to be able to set my phone face-down on the table on a coffee shop patio and get a little charge boost.

The Samsung Blue Earth phone will be shown February 16th at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

(via Inhabitat Blog and BusinessWire)

What iPhone 3G Max $199 Price Really Means

In the WWDC 2008 keynote, Steve Jobs phrased the price of the the iPhone in an interesting way. He said , “the price is a maximum of $199.” [1:40 mark in the video]

The WWDC2008 Twitter account said something that really sparked my interest: “Factoid: iPhone 3G = $199 “MAXIMUM” price. Subsidies coming?” ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘if we get some AT&T subsidies going, it could drop to $99 or even free with a two year contract!’ However, I now think that this was exactly the wrong way to approach this statement.

AT&T has come out and shed some light on the subject. $199 IS the subsidized price already. Also, activation won’t be happening at home over iTunes any more. In order to walk out of a store with an iPhone 3G in your hand, you will have to sign a 2 year contract on the spot. True, you can cancel the contract within a “trial” period, and I’ve seen a few people leave comments saying that this is a loophole to get the phone out of contract. What they’re forgetting is that you have to return the phone if you cancel the contract within the trial period.

When Jobs said that the phone would have a maximum price of $199, I think what this really means is that AT&T will not be selling these phones without a contract attached to it. You’re not going to be able to pay the full manufacturer’s price (which I suspect is $400, or even more) to get a phone contract-free. I think this is to limit resellers from unlocking the phones without financial consequence. Now they’ll have to pay the contract termination fee to redistribute, and this will jack up the cost of unlocked phones. Also, I imagine that you can only sign and immediately cancel so many AT&T contracts before red flags go up (unless they want to let you keep dumping money into their pockets with early termination fees).

If you aren’t familiar with how subsidies work, head into your local cell phone distributor and ask for the out-of-contract prices for any of the phones. I think you’ll be surprised.