Huawei beats Apple to new tech feature; satellite texting
Despite US sanctions on the Chinese tech giant, Huawei seems to be back on the market with the new tech feature that US markets are competing with: satellite texting.
One day prior to Apple’s September event, Huawei announced the Mate 50 series, beating Apple's iPhone 14 to a feature it is anticipated to offer: the ability to send texts via satellite communication.
The Mate 50 and its Pro series will have the ability to send short texts and utilize navigation thanks to China’s global BeiDou satellite network, permitting communication in areas without cellular signals.
The frontrunner Mate 50 series includes 4G-only versions of the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset with 8GB of RAM, a 6.7-inch and a 90Hz OLED panel as opposed to the 50 Pro having a slightly bigger 6.74-inch OLED display and a 120Hz refresh rate.
Both however include a 50-megapixel main rear camera with a variable aperture lens with stops from f/1.4 to f/4 - most smartphone cameras use fixed apertures but the lens itself is so small that it’s unlikely to notice any significant difference in depth-of-field in most situations.
While each has a telephoto lens, and they share a 13-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide, the Pro gets an upgraded 64-megapixel camera capable of 200x digital zoom. On the other hand, the Mate 50 offers 100x digital zoom with a lower-resolution 12-megapixel sensor.
American cellular provider T-Mobile announced a collaboration with SpaceX that intends to bring the satellite texting feature to T-Mobile subscribers by way of Starlink satellites, as the rumors of Apple’s satellite messaging feature have been swirling since last year.
At first, however, the technology will potentially be limited. T-Mobile stated that its system will allow for text and even picture messaging, but voice calls and data won’t be available until later.
According to Huawei’s description of the system, it looks like the Mate 50 phones will only be able to send texts by satellite, but receiving them won't be an option yet. Satellite-based texting aims to provide an emergency connection in places without a signal for urgent cases. In any case, consumers and smartphone users will have to wait for the feature to be available in the US longer than usual since Huawei’s devices will not be sold there due to sanctions.
US President Joe Biden signed a legislation, dubbed the Secure Equipment Act, in October last year that bans companies that are regarded as "security threats" from obtaining equipment licenses from US regulators. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under the new law, is required to no longer review nor accept any authorization application for equipment that "poses a threat to national security" - namely by Huawei and ZTE.
Following that initiative, Huawei's market share in phones plummeted even in China, but with this new tech feature that will not be available in the US, Huawei might gain leverage over US smartphone markets - especially since the company just signed a deal with the Solomon Islands last month that secured a $66 million loan from China to fund and provide 161 telecommunications towers across the Pacific nation.