Huawei's Temperature-Taking Phone Release Anticipates Future Waves of COVID-19

The new smartphone has an in-built IR temperature sensor to allow users to do fever screening on themselves and others.
Chris Young

We might take them for granted, but smartphones really are incredible pieces of machinery; they contain tiny devices, including a GPS and a tiny gyroscope that ancient explorers could only have dreamed of.

Now, in anticipation of what many believe will be a new normal in the post-pandemic world, Huawei is trying to make the incorporation of IR temperature sensors into smartphones go mainstream.

The company revealed that their new Huawei Honor Play 4 Pro will ship with an IR temperature sensor integrated into the device.


A fad or the future?

As Ars Technica put it, the Huawei Honor Play 4 Pro has to be the most 2020 phone of 2020. Its IR temperature sensor, which can measure the surface temperature of surfaces and people, is integrated into the rear camera block of the phone.

With real concerns over new surges of COVID-19 as lockdowns are eased around the world, this new phone temperature sensor might be a real selling point to people at greater risk of serious illness.

While temperature readings aren't a guaranteed way to screen for COVID-19, fever can, of course, be an early indication of infection. 

The new smartphone feature was revealed in a video posted on Chinese social media site Weibo. By opening an app, aiming the phone at someone's forehead, and tapping on a screen button, users can easily get a temperature reading.

An easy integration

As Ars Technica points out, the use of non-contact thermometers has been a common sight in China, and throughout the world, amidst the pandemic.

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Huawei's Temperature-Taking Phone Release Anticipates Future Waves of COVID-19
Source: Huawei

Huawei claims its IR sensor, which isn't as accurate as a thermal camera, can read temperatures from -20°C (-4°F) to 100°C (212°F). While the most accurate method is through taking an internal temperature measurement, IR sensors are cheap. Were they to become the norm, smartphone prices wouldn't skyrocket — in fact, they are already integrated into many phones for face unlock and camera effects.

The Huawei Honor Play 4 Pro runs Android, though the US export ban means it does have Google Play apps and services. It has a 6.57-inch, 2400×1080 LCD, Huawei's Kirin 990 SoC, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 4200mAh battery. The phone is currently only being sold in China, where the version with the IR sensor temperature reader costs runs 2,999 yuan (approximately $422).