solarphone.gifIt makes a change to hear that a Chinese handset manufacturer is worried about piracy and has taken out patents on its latest model.

Beijing-based Hi-Tech Wealth said it has received four patents covering the design of its unusual solar-powered mobile phone, which was unveiled to the west at the CeBIT trade fair in Hannover earlier this year.

The company says the patented solar power technology trickle charges the battery in a wide range of light conditions, from bright sunlight to even candle light. Battery life is 2.5 times longer than it would without the panels. An hour of direct sunlight will give users 40 extra minutes of talk time.

ZhengYu Zhang, CEO and chairman of Hi-Tech Wealth, clearly believes that its designs are so innovation that they are worth protecting and so it has taken a leaf out of the book of western mobile phone giants like Nokia in filing patents. Zhang said:

Over the past year, we have introduced unique digital mobile devices like the Information Security phone and, most recently, the Solar Mobile Phone. We are so pleased to expand our patent portfolio and protect the innovative features we create and ultimately market to China's niche consumer markets.”

Cellphone that you do not need to charge from a wall socket have become something of the Holy Grail for the mobile phone industry. A few years ago Nokia showed a prototype of a fuel cell-powered phone but the device never made it to production, possibly because Nokia realised that not too many people would want to use a phone that dribbles water down their ear — one of the byproducts of fuel cells is water.

Solar-powered cellphones have also been demonstrated before but Hi-Tech Wealth claims it is the first to commercially product such a device.

Nokia has had many legal run-ins with China's copycat handset manufacturers — see this story.

Elsewhere on the handset front:

  • A clear sign of today's speculative times, Nasdaq-listed Comtech Group, a Shenzhen-based electronics company, has signed a deal with China Unicom, the second largest wireless operator in China, to supply it with handsets with a real-time trading function, so catering for China's small army of private investors. The handsets offer real-time market updates, comprehensive financial analysis and personalised stock price alerts and will permit users to connect with over 90% of the trading systems in China. More here.

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