Chinese tech giant Huawei announced on September 6 that its new Mate 50 and Mate 50 Pro products are the world’s first consumer smartphones to support Beidou satellite connectivity. Whether users are in remote areas without network signal coverage, such as deserts or the sea, or in need of rescue services, Mate 50 smartphones can send text and location information for requesting help at any time, supporting multiple locations to generate tracking maps.
In addition to Huawei itself, Ming-Chi Kuo, a prominent analyst at TF International Securities, said that satellite communication is one of the key test items before mass production of the iPhone 14, and that Apple has completed the hardware test of this function. Satellite communication functions on iPhone 14 series models mainly involve emergency short messaging and calling services. Besides, for the “Far Out” event, Apple has designed a space-themed Apple logo and a black hole-style experience. This also made many people in the industry speculate that the iPhone 14 series will support the long-rumored “satellite communication” function.
In addition, Xingji Technology, a venture founded by Eric Li, Chairman of Chinese auto maker Geely, announced on September 6 that the firm will launch the world’s first consumer-grade mobile phone directly connected to low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites in the future. It seems that smartphones with satellite communication, which was a niche market before, are increasingly coming into the public’s view.
Chinese domestic media outlet National Business Daily reported on September 6 that at present, satellite communication technology is in the spotlight in the secondary capital market, and related concept stocks have soared in recent days. In 2020, satellite internet had been included in the “New Infrastructure Plan” by the Chinese government. Globally, satellite internet technology is accelerating. American spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX’s “Starlink” program is occupying a large number of low-Earth orbits, which also affects other countries’ acceleration of related research and development.
CCID, Chinese state-owned information and industry research institute, predicted in May this year that “smartphone + LEO satellite communication” is expected to open up a new development direction for the smartphone market, offering a powerful means to build a new space for information consumption in the future. It believes that global smartphone innovation and development tends to be saturated. Facing the complex industry development environment and fierce competition, smartphone manufacturers must aim at forward-looking and revolutionary innovative technologies, accelerating the integration of smartphones and LEO satellite communication, so as to meet the escalating consumer demand and open up a new development direction for the mobile phone industry.
However, on September 6, an industry insider told National Business Daily that in China, satellite communication technology has developed rapidly in the military field, but it has been implemented less in civilian use, basically remaining in the planning stage. It will be difficult for satellite communication phones to become mainstream devices for ordinary people.
The individual added, the signals of telecommunication operators can basically cover most of China, including remote mountainous areas. On the other hand, satellite communication technology is now only more frequently used in some special fields, such as outdoor exploration and offshore fishing, and it also needs special equipment support, while calls also have latency. It is worth mentioning that the satellite connectivity technology carried by the Huawei Mate 50 smartphone series can only send short messages at present, and cannot realize real-time communication.
A relevant person in charge of Shenzhen Satellink, a shareholding company under Gosuncn Technology Group, believes that with the promotion of consumer enterprises such as Huawei and Apple, the application demand of satellite communication may explode in the future, and these demands will push the development of satellite communication in China.