Leading white goods and mobile handset manufacturer Samsung Wednesday launched a low-cost solar-powered mobile phone, and said it was planning to introduce about 20 more models by year-end.
The new handset, launched under its low-cost line of products - "Guru" - at a price of Rs.2,799, has a solar panel on the back, which can be used to charge the battery anywhere the sun is shining.
"We have developed this phone keeping in minds the needs of the consumers, especially for people in areas where the electric supply is unstable," said J.S. Shin, president and chief executive of Samsung, Southwest Asia.
The phone, christened the "Guru E1107", can provide around 5-10 minutes of talk-time with one-hour of solar charging when the handset is turned off and sunlight has adequate intensity.
"Solar charging can give you enough time to make few important calls when there is no electricity or you are not close to a plug point," said Sunil Dutt, country head of Samsung India.
The battery will attain full power with about 40 hours of solar charging.
"But that is really not the intention behind the launch of this phone. It is to enable customers to make a call when there is no electricity," said Dutt.
The handset, the 11th model in the Guru series, will be in shops by month-end.
The first few batches of Guru E1107 will be imported from South Korea.
Saumsung has already launched about 20 models this year and plans to take this number to about 40 across categories.
Asked whether the company would consider introducing solar charging features in high-end phones, Dutt said: "We would definitely consider doing so."
Samsung, which has invested about $44 million in developing its mobile manufacturing facility in Noida, also has ambitious plans for the huge Indian mobile market.
"Our market share is in the early double digits currently. We plan to increase it by about 5-6 percent this year," said a company official.
The company is also planning to introduce in India its solar-powered touchscreen mobile handset, Blue Earth - unveiled at a technology conference in Barcelona, Spain early this year.