Samsung Reclaim cellphone is biodegradable; 2-year contract still ironclad

Samsung and Sprint plan to roll out their new Reclaim, an under-$50 phone featuring a case made of corn-based biodegradable plastic, on August 16. The Reclaim features a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, e-mail and Web access, a 2.0 megapixel camera and GPS navigation, and it comes in two colors: Blue Ocean and Green Earth. Because Coal Grey or Oil Slick Metallic likely wouldn't be big sellers.

To date, most "green" phones have focused on using recycled plastics — like Motorola's Renew and Sony Ericsson's Greenheart — or tout corporate take-back policies and carbon offsets for phone production and shipping.

But the Reclaim is the first phone to use bioplastic — tough to do in electronics since heat makes them soften up. That's likely why the case is still 60% non-biodegradable plastic. And even green phones won't save you from cellphone red tape; the $50 price features a 2-year service commitment and a mail-in rebate.