CES 2010 - Solar Powered iPhone Skins Getting More Popular

solar phone charger photo

Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

One of our very popular posts from this fall was news about solar powered skins for iPhones and iPod Touch products. And when I say popular, I mean REALLY popular. It's clear this is the kind of thing readers can get excited about. But at CES, it was also clear that it's not just TreeHugger readers who get excited about it - everyone does. Solar powered chargers capable of charging Apple devices are already around, but coming up are more solar powered skins, like this one from eVogue.

solar phone charger photo

Capable of providing a 5 Volt charge, it reportedly can charge up in just 3 hours of sunlight. On the same information card stating this, it also states that the solar cell is just 0.61 Watts. So in other words, nuh uh. Or rather, it might be able to charge its own battery in that amount of time, but when transferring the power to an iPhone battery, it can likely only provide a few minutes of talk time.

As solar power for gadgets continues to increase in popularity, consumers will be able to look at devices and weed out those that are just solar junk - like this one seems to be. However, also at the booth was another device that shows solar power is gaining in popularity - a charger with a pop-out mini USB port.

solar phone charger photo

I heard from several companies at CES that alternative charging for mini and micro USB products is in more demand, and this slick-looking charger shows it.

There is a problem, though, and that is (as it has been for the last couple years) a rush of inferior chargers onto the market, a lack of highly efficient yet small solar charging options, and a consumer base that is still somewhat uneducated about what solar chargers can and can't do for them. These small devices can give you emergency backup power, or a full charge if you're willing to wait for it, but it can't give you a full charge every day, as many people seem to expect - and as all of us want.

So these phone skins and mini chargers are getting popular, but for power hungry iPhones, they aren't able to perform the way many consumers may think they should. We'll see how far they actually can go in the market among consumers who want more than they're getting.

More on CES 2010
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