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

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

As smart as today’s smartphones are, they’re not exactly known for their stamina, thus causing millions of users panic attacks when battery life is in the red zone and there are no power outlets around for them to plug into. 

In case you've never heard of Kyocera, the Japanese company specialises in rugged phones for all you Bear Grylls types out there. And they're working with Sunpartner Technologies to make a phone powered by sunshine.

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 2 hours of hanging out in the sun to produce 5 minutes of talktime, whereas this year’s version takes 15 minutes to achieve that same length of talktime.

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 finetuning 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. Plus, it's also shockproof and water-resistant with a rating of either IPX6 or IPX8, perfect for the outdoor adventurer who wouldn't be able to find a power outlet anywhere in the wild. 

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.