The trickle of eco-phones is about to become a flood, if today's announcement of a solar-powered mobile from LG is any indication.

The as-yet-unnamed handset has photovoltaic solar cells embedded in its battery cover " to conveniently harness the sun's limitless and pollution-free energy."

The panels, which take up most of the back panel of the phone, can gather and convert enough solar power in ten minute's of bright sunlight to power a three-minute phone call, and are claimed to be able to recharge the phone completely "'if left in natural light for long periods."

Bright ideas

There's no further details on the handset yet, although it apparently has a 5MP camera with LED flash. LG plans to launch its solar phone in Europe by the end of the year.

"Using renewable solar energy in a mobile handset is an example of our ongoing efforts to help create a safer, cleaner environment for our customers," says Dr. Skott Ahn, President and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company.

Other green intiatives from the South Korean company include the HFB-500 Bluetooth solar car kit and eco-friendly packaging using recycled paper and soy-based inks.

LG is also reducing the use of hazardous substances in its products, planning to make its mobile handsets free of halogenated substances, a known endocrine disruptor, by removing brominated flame retardants (BFR), chlorinated flame retardants (CFR) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from the manufacturing process by 2010 and making all handsets antimony-free by 2012.