You may not have heard of Chinese mobile phone maker Umeox Mobile, but odds are you’ve come across one of their handsets at one time or another without realizing it, as its phones are generally re-branded and sold by operators around the world. The company's latest offering announced this week at Mobile World Congress 2011 is due to hit stores later this year. Named after the Greek god of the sun, the Umeox Apollo sports a built-in solar panel on the back for keeping the phone running when you can’t get to an outlet – provided you can get to some sunlight, of course.
Aside from the built-in solar charger, the Apollo’s features aren’t really anything to write – or phone-home – about, but should be fine for anyone who spends plenty of time in away from the convenience of an electrical outlet and doesn’t need the latest whizz-bang features. The Android-powered device has a 3.2-inch 320 x 480 display, 1 GB of internal storage that can be increased via a microSD card slot, FM radio, Bluetooth 2.1 A2DP, 3-megapixel rear camera and 3.5 mm audio jack.
As reported on Mobile Crunch, Umeox looks to be producing two versions of the Apollo – an 850/1900MHz model suited to networks in the U.S. and a 900/1800MHz model compatible with networks in Europe and much of Asia. Umeox says that topping up the phone for daily usage will only take about 2.5 hours of basking in the sun, but recharging a completely flat battery will take around 17 hours.
While a solar panel might seem like a nifty thing to have on your mobile phone, you’d have to ask yourself just how much time your current phone actually spends catching some rays and whether such a feature is worth sacrificing the power of a fully featured smartphone. Judging by the less than stellar success of other solar-panel touting mobile phones such as the Samsung Blue Earth, Sharp Solar Ketai and Digicel Coral-200-Solar, the answers to these questions seems to be, 'not enough' and 'no'.
The 900/1800MHz model is set for release in Q2 this year, while the 850/1900MHz model is due in Q3 this year.