Windows Phone is finally gaining some interest, and with Samsung out of the picture, it looks like Nokia will have to lead the charge. If current hints and teases prove true, then Nokia is about to get a major new weapon in its fight.
On March 19, the company posted a picture of a Lumia with the caption "Sun, sun, sun, here we come!" This caused rumors to fly that the company was working on a phone with solar-charging capabilities. Just a few days earlier, the French WP enthusiast site MonWindowsPhone reported that SunPartner Group, a French solar cell maker, had signed a deal with an "unnamed" smartphone manufacturer.
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Faster than you could say "mon dieu," people put the two items together and began claiming Nokia had a solar-powered smartphone in the works.
As a former owner of a Lumia 920, I can tell you that battery life is one of its biggest weaknesses (the other being indoor 4G/3G connectivity). The Lumia battery runs down very fast, and the possibility of leaving it in sunlight to recharge is appealing, although I can also see a huge spike in forgotten and lost devices.
This would be huge for Nokia if it happens. It would also be huge for SunPartner, a company I doubt anyone has heard of on this side of the Atlantic. It makes products for mobile devices called Wysips crystals.
The Wysips combine optical and photovoltaic technologies into an ultrathin layer that sits right below the screen of the phone. SunPartner says that leaving the phone in any light, whether it's office lighting or the sun, will recharge the screen.
This isn't new technology. Wysips was awarded the prestigious CTIA 2011 Wireless prize. Up to now, though, it's only been seen in prototypes. You'd have to think Apple and Samsung are going to be pounding on SunPartner's door for a license agreement of their own.
Could Nokia, which is so powerful and ubiquitous in Europe, have an exclusive? None of the rumors have indicated it was an exclusive deal, and SunPartner would have a hole in its collective heads if it made such a deal.
Nokia's screen technology is among the best, and the Lumia 920 is a stunning phone, so it could be that Nokia is just ready to incorporate Wysip faster than the competition.
Even a six-month lead could be huge for Nokia and could finally give WP8 the boost it needs so badly. It would all depend on Nokia's lead. For now, we wait to see how it plays out, but the potential is there.