Meet the sun-powered smartphone you've probably never heard of

Sunlight is battery life for the Kyocera Rugged Solar Charging Phone prototype

Today’s smartphones are probably the world's biggest cause of panic attacks; when the unholy trinity of poor battery life, power-hungry apps and absence of power outlets come together, you're basically screwed. 

Kyocera want to change that - but in an eco-friendly way.

The Japanese company isn't exactly a household name, specialising as it does in rugged phones for all the Bear Grylls types out there. But its new project, a collaboration with Sunpartner Technologies, could see it hit the mainstream.

First showed off at last year’s MWC, the catchily named Kyocera Rugged Solar Charging Phone is the company’s second-gen prototype. This year’s iteration improves upon the sun-powered charging tech in place to supplement your usual charging-via-cable habits.

It’s grown up to a 5in full HD display from the previous 4in, which means a bigger, more efficient solar panel (Sunpartner Technologies' Wysips Crystal wizardry) can be fitted in.

The first-gen prototype took 2hrs of hanging out in the sun to produce 5 minutes of talktime, whereas this year’s version takes a mere 15 minutes to achieve that same amount of juice.

In the demo we were shown, the sunlight effect on the phone was reproduced with a flashlight and a solar-charging app that the company created for users to check in on how well the phone is soaking up the sunshine. 

Ideally, it should work perfectly outdoors and kick in automatically whenever the phone's display is exposed to the sun. 

There are still details that the company needs to work out before the phone can hit the mainstream. While the display might look great indoors, it doesn’t provide the greatest visual experience outdoors, a problem that already plagues current smartphones.

As the dark solar panel sits under the touchscreen, it'll inevitably affect the visibility on the display. It’s at 85% transparency right now and the company is working on fine-tuning its different specs before pushing it out to the public.

As of now, the phone is running a 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 2600mAh battery, and a 13MP camera, all perfectly respectable specs. It's also shockproof and water-resistant, with a rating of either IPX6 or IPX8 - all of which makes it ideal for the outdoor adventurer who won't be hanging out near power outlets. 

If you want one, you'll have to wait on Kyocera. But hey, at least there's some light at the end of this battery-lifeless tunnel.