Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business and automotive technology division, unveiled the Huawei Mate 50 series on Tuesday. The Chinese giant’s smartphone business has been hit by US sanctions over the past two years, which have cut the firm off from key technologies.
Huawei has released a flagship smartphone that it claims is the first device that can connect to China’s Beidou global navigation satellite system.
It comes as the company seeks to stay relevant in the mobile market after US sanctions crippled its mobile phone business.
The Chinese tech giant took the wraps off the Mate 50 smartphone on Tuesday, along with the MatePad Pro tablet and the Watch GT 3 Pro smartwatch.
Huawei’s Mate 50 boasts a revamped camera with 4 lenses arranged in a circle on the back. The phone also runs Harmony 3.0, the latest version of Huawei’s proprietary operating system, which was first released in 2019 after the company was cut off from using Google’s Android software due to US sanctions.
The Mate 50 also lacks connectivity to superfast 5G networks, after US sanctions cut the company off the key chip needed to do so. Instead, the phone connects to previous-generation 4G networks.
However, Huawei claims that this is the first smartphone released to the public that can connect to China’s Beidou satellite network. Beidou was completed in 2020 and is a rival to the US government-owned Global Positioning System (GPS), which is widely used around the world.
Beidou connectivity means users can still send messages even when they lose connection to a land-based mobile network, for example if they are in a remote area.
The Mate 50 went on pre-sale in China on Tuesday, and the starting price is 4,999 yuan ($718), with the higher-spec Mate 50 Pro starting at 6,799 yuan ($1,006).
Huawei’s EV push
But Huawei, which rose to prominence through its telecommunications equipment business, has turned to new areas of growth in the past two years, including software and cloud computing.
More recently, Huawei has been building an automotive technology business with a focus on electric vehicles. But the company, based in Shenzhen, southern China, doesn’t make cars. Instead, it partners with car manufacturers and provides the technology in various parts of the car.
Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Automotive Solutions Business Unit, shows off the Aito M5 electric car. Huawei doesn’t make cars, but instead teams up with automakers and focuses on in-car technology. The Aito M5 is a collaboration between Huawei and Chinese carmaker Seres.
On Tuesday, Huawei launched the AITO M5 electric vehicle in collaboration with Chinese automaker Seres. The car features Huawei’s Harmony OS operating system for the digital cockpit and infotainment system, and includes a computing system to regulate the car’s torque. Huawei said it helps improve vehicle control.
A number of Chinese technology firms, including search giant Baidu and smartphone maker Xiaomi, have entered the electric vehicle market to grab a slice of the fast-growing EV market.
Huawei has already launched cars alongside China’s state-owned automakers BAIC and Changan.