Huawei's New Phone Uses Satellites for Image Sharing, No Internet Required

The Pura 70 Ultra has a satellite connectivity feature designed for use in emergencies, particularly in remote or far-flung areas.

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
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Sareena Dayaram
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camera bump of pura 70 ultra

Huawei Pura 70 Ultra's satellite connectivity allows you to send images without an internet connection. 

Vmall/ Screenshot by CNET

Huawei's new Pura 70 Ultra phone can send images to your contacts in an emergency, even without an internet connection.

The tool, which relies on satellites to function, works with an app called Changlian to send and receive images, according to a Huawei Central report citing company CTO Bruce Lee. If you don't use the Changlian app you'll only be able to receive text messages, the report says.

The feature is a first for the mobile industry, building on satellite connectivity features Huawei has previously released. Back in 2022, Huawei's Mate 50 and Mate 50 Pro added the ability to send short texts and navigate using China's BeiDou satellite system, China's answer to the Global Positioning System developed by the US Air Force. The company then followed up that feature with the ability to make and receive phone calls using satellites with 2023's Mate 60 series.

Read more: How to Use Your iPhones Emergency SOS Via Satellite to Call 911

An iPhone 14 showing a text conversation with emergency dispatchers

The iPhone 14 series debuted the ability to communicate via text with emergency dispatchers.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

Apple was the first tech company to offer satellite texting capabilities. Back in 2022, the iPhone 14 debuted Emergency SOS via Satellite, which allowed iPhone owners in some countries to send texts to emergency services through satellites by filling out a form. By contrast, the Pura 70 Ultra purports to use the Changlian app to send two-way text messages and images, representing a substantial upgrade over Emergency SOS should it meet Apple's standard of reliability.

Apple's tool, which is now credited with saving lives, was expected by some watchers to set off a wave of satellite-connectivity enabled smartphones last year, although that trend never materialized. 

Read more: Satellite Messaging: The Phone Trend That Wasn't (Yet)

It seems to be happening still, albeit much more slowly. Select Android phones could reportedly debut more connectivity features this year. Google's Pixel 9 is rumored to gain the ability to send texts via satellite at its launch event, expected later this year. Samsung's flagship Galaxy S24 series never ended up debuting satellite connectivity features despite the South Korean company announcing back in 2023 that it has the technology to allow for direct communication between phones and satellites. However, Android phones packing Qualcomm's latest X80 5G modem, announced in February, will be able to connect to satellites.

Watch this: I Tried Emergency SOS via Satellite on the iPhone 14