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(Pocket-lint) - The launch of the Huawei Mate 50 might not register for your typical smartphone customer outside China. Since the company fell foul of US sanctions and hasn't been able to use Google's Android, appetite for the phones has diminished for those outside the homeland.

But there's a noteworthy detail in the launch of this phone: it supports satellite messaging. Rumours have been swirling about Apple offering some sort of satellite connectivity on the iPhone 14, but it looks like Huawei wanted to beat Apple to the punch.

The Huawei Mate 50 family has always been about innovation, Huawei's second flagship phone of the year behind the Huawei P devices - and 2022 is no different.

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The headlines might be taken in by the fact that the Mate 50 Pro offers a variable aperture camera - and not a software solution as most phones offer, but using a physical shutter with blades.

It also offers waterproofing to an IP68 standard, is protected by Kunlun Glass on the 6.74-inch OLED display - and there's a range of colours, including a tempting orange leather.

What's more interesting is that Huawei is using the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 in these phones, rather than its own Kirin hardware. There's no mention of the antenna specs (which would presumably have to accommodate the satellite communication side of things), but this suggests to us that Qualcomm's hardware will support this technology. One thing to note is that it is 4G only - there's no 5G on offer.

Diving down into the details of the satellite messaging, Huawei says that this works on China's Beidou network and it appears that this is only available on the Chinese version of the phone - which makes sense given that it's connecting to a Chinese satellite network with coverage mostly in the region of China.

Currently this is only offering messaging and - wait for it - the small print on Huawei's Chinese website suggests it might only support the sending of messages, not the receiving.

Still, remember this date and remember this phone - as this appears to be the first consumer smartphone offering satellite messaging, but it's certainly not going to be the last.

If you're interested in the Huawei Mate 50 for the EMUI 13 user interface, the 50-megapixel Ultra Aperture camera (f/1.4-f/4.0), 13-megapixel ultrawide and 64-megapixel telephoto, then it will be available in some regions, but there's no word on price or date yet.

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Writing by Chris Hall.
Sections Huawei Phones