Huawei Technologies Co unveiled its much-anticipated Mate 50 series smartphones on Tuesday that support satellite communication, becoming the first smartphone maker to roll out such a feature in the consumer market.
The gadgets, supported by China’s Beidou Satellite Navigation System, have an emergency mode that works independently of battery power and allows users to send a message in an environment without signals.
“Satellite communication is a short message communication service. Compared with 5G and 4G communications, it can offer broader coverage with high reliability,” said Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center at Zhejiang University’s International Business School.
“It will become a major supplement to the current cellular networks of smartphones, as it already played an important role in emergencies and disaster relief, like earthquake rescue,” Pan said.
On Tuesday, looking back at the development of Huawei’s flagship Mate series over the past decade, Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei’s device business group and CEO of the company’s intelligent automotive solution business unit, said the tech company has been leading major smartphone innovations and “only Mate can surpass Mate”.
Priced from 4,999 yuan ($775) in China, the Huawei Mate 50 series are 4G-enabled but are powered by its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS 3. The new series are also equipped with Kunlun glass, which helps improve smartphones’ resistance to falls by 10 times.
Xmage, Huawei’s new imaging brand, was also launched for the first time on the Mate 50 series. Dubbed the masterpiece of the company’s computing camera technology, the technology enables a zoom range of up to 200 times.
The move came before US smartphone maker Apple Inc’s scheduled launch of its latest iPhone 14 series. Unconfirmed market rumors were swirling that the US tech giant might also include the satcom function in the latest iteration of the iPhone.
Some industry analysts said they believe the new launch will inject momentum into consumer electronics in the fourth quarter, which is a peak shipment season for such products.
“High-end products are the way forward for smartphone brands nowadays. If Huawei receives a sound market response to its Mate 50 series, it will encourage other domestic high-end smartphone makers,” said Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with TF International Securities, in a media interview.
Kuo said any success of the Mate 50 series could also help cushion the impact of the downtrend in the consumer electronics market
Two days after Huawei announced its latest phone with satellite connectivity, Apple announced its new lineup of products, including the iPhone14 series, which comes with a satellite connectivity feature.