Chinese telecom giant Huawei introduced its new high-end Mate 50 phone series at a Tuesday product release event. The series features camera and glass upgrades and supports satellite texting.

Why it matters: Huawei’s new lineup offers several surprising features, with a notable breakthrough in cameras and satellite communication.

  • Satellite features could be a new selling point for smartphones. Other firms are considering bringing satellite video calls to phones, including SpaceX, T-Mobile, and Chinese auto giant Geely

Details: Huawei’s new Mate 50 lineup is priced from RMB 3,999 to RMB 12,999 ($573.53 to $1,864.3), covering a wide market range. The Mate 50 standard, Pro, and the luxury RS model (with a Porsche-inspired design) are built with the newest high-end processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 4G. The lowest-priced Mate 50E model comes with a mid-end processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 4G. The standard, Pro, and E models have 8 GB RAM, while the RS model has 12 GB RAM. 

  • All models in the Mate 50 series allow users to send texts over satellite, a feature powered by the Chinese satellite navigation system BeiDou. However, the option is only available in mainland China and does not support receiving texts.
  • Devices are equipped with a 50 million pixels main camera with adjustable mechanical aperture, offering ten levels from F1.4 to F4. Additionally, thanks to the large aperture and new RYYB sensor (Red, Yellow, Yellow, Blue), the camera can take in 24% more light, according to Huawei. Sony and Samsung previously released phones with adjustable mechanical apertures, but both had a shorter range.
  • Huawei also introduced new Kunlun Glass for the display, which offers 10 times more drop resistance than ordinary glass. In addition, the firm allows over ten older phone models to upgrade to the new glass, with prices starting at RMB 589.
  • Chinese display makers BOE and Visionox supplied the Mate 50 series. A significant difference between models is evident in their display design. Standard and E models have a punch-hole display, while Pro and RS models have a wide-notch design for facial recognition sensors. 
  • The E model does not support wireless charging, but all other models support 50 W wireless charging with the same 66 W charging speed.
  • Mate 50, Pro, and RS will be available on September 21, and the Mate 50E will be available in October.

Context: Huawei is the fourth largest mobile vendor after Xiaomi, accounting for 6.03% of the global smartphone market as of August 2022, according to StatCounter, an analysis website started in 1999.

  • Although Huawei’s market share has declined in recent years due to US sanctions, the company still accounted for 25% of all the owned and actively used smartphones in China in June 2022, according to QuestMobile, a Beijing-based data provider. However, when it comes to the number of newly activated devices, Huawei sits in fifth place with 7.75 million units in China during the first six months of this year, only half the number of Xiaomi phones activated in the same period.

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a] or Twitter @zhounanyu.