With the upcoming iPhone 2.0 release, I will be free from a USB cable to sync my PIM data by using the Exchange ActiveSync utility. However, there are still a couple of reasons cables will be needed and that is for getting movies and podcasts onto my iPhone and to charge my iPhone. Apple can fairly easily solve the media content issue by providing content downloads and transfers over WiFi. The New York Times reports that Apple has filed some new patents that may bring solar charging capability to Apple devices in the future.
The patent involves integrating solar cells into the device display under the touch screen. The display on the iPhone is huge in comparison to other mobile devices and even in comparison to some other mobile solar chargers so if Apple can get the display to still work with dual touch like it currently does then this could be a revolutionary improvement and finally address an issue that has plagued mobile devices from day one. With the 3G iPhone rumored to be coming soon, it will be even more power-challenged as 3G data networks consume more power and something like a solar display to charge the battery would be awesome.
The Solio solar chargers are quite small and have the capability to charge a typical mobile phone more than twice or give over 20 hours of music listening capability to a MP3 player. 1 hour of sunshine typically provides 15-20 minutes of talk time or 40-50 minutes of MP3 playing. The problem for people like me who live in Washington State is finding any sunshine to power up the iPhone.