Huawei has obtained a smartphone microscope-camera technology patent, with the lens magnifying the photographed object from 20 to 400 times by a minimum distance of approximately 5 millimeters and the phone able to analyze the image for bacteria, according to a recently published report by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

Why it matters: As competition in the phone market continues to intensify, Huawei has been striving to capture the attention and loyalty of consumers by introducing new features, and will be hoping that its microscope-camera can give it a competitive edge.

Details: At present, Huawei has not announced whether the microscope-camera patented technology will be used in the next generation of its flagship phones, but the patent has already provided details of the microscope lens and how it could be used.

  • The advanced feature utilizes two cameras: one regular camera for capturing images and another micro-camera for analyzing hygiene. In the provided screenshot, the phone captures an image that includes an apple and a hand. When put into micro mode, the phone will use voice, text, or other prompts to describe the health status of the object and provide suggestions for maintaining hygiene.
  • Huawei’s patent also outlined several use cases for the micro-camera, including food safety assurance, kitchen utensil maintenance, personal hygiene assessment, children’s toys inspections, and pet hygiene monitoring. For example, users could utilize the micro-camera at home to detect bacteria on a vegetable’s surface or to monitor the cleanliness of kitchen utensils and appliances, such as coffee machines and microwaves. 
  • Huawei submitted this camera patent application in 2021, according to the USPTO file. The patent description specifically highlights the identification of bacterial quantities in captured images and the provision of hygiene recommendations as particular concerns, especially as the patent was filed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • In 2021, Oppo introduced the Find X3 Pro, which is capable of magnifying subjects by a maximum of 60 times. But such a function is limited to macro photography instead of microscopic images.

Context: Over 350 companies have obtained licenses for Huawei’s patents through patent pools. Under these licenses, Huawei’s licensing revenue amounted to $560 million in 2022.

  • In September, Huawei and Xiaomi announced a global patent cross-licensing agreement that covers multiple communications technologies including 5G.
  • In August, Huawei launched the Mate 60 series with satellite call technology, which allows users to make or receive calls without the use of traditional terrestrial signals.

Jessie Wu is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. She covers consumer electronics, semiconductor, and the gaming industry for TechNode. Connect with her via e-mail: