Solar phone from Samsung debuts at Mobile World Congress

Made in part from recycled bottles, Samsung's Blue Earth phone boasts various eco-friendly features

Green-tech enthusiasts (myself included) are taking note of a new solar-powered cell phone unveiled by Samsung at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Dubbed the Blue Earth phone, the touchscreen device has mini solar panels located on its back. Fully charging the phone via solar power takes between 10 and 14 hours and would offer 4 hours of chat time. Users could also plug the phone into a charger and harness solar power to extend talk time.

[ Samsung's Blue Earth phone demonstrates some of the ways phone manufacturers are making their wares greener. ]

The Blue Earth boasts some other notable eco-friendly features. Among them, it's built from plastic harvested from used water bottles, according to Samsung. Also eco-friendly, the phone and high-efficiency charger contain zero toxic chemicals such as brominated flame retardants, beryllium, or phthalates.

Additionally, screen brightness is easy to set, users can adjust backlight duration, and the phone has an energy-efficient Bluetooth mode.

Add to that the phone's "eco walk" function. A built-in pedometer counts the user's steps and calculates many CO2 emissions said users has saved by walking instead of driving. A little gimmicky, perhaps, but hey, it could have its uses.

The device will be launched in Europe in the second half of this year. No price tag has been revealed, and it's not clear when, or if, it will reach North America.