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There's always a coronavirus angle these days: Honor intros new smartphone with built-in temperature sensor

Be the hero who carries a thermometer around in their mobe

Niche, China-exclusive smartphones seldom get a nod in The Reg's pages, but allow us to make an exception for Honor's latest flagship, the Play4 Pro.

In addition to the usual specs, it comes with a seldom-found feature that feels particularly pertinent given the current pandemic. Nestled amid its camera array is an infrared temperature sensor with a range between -20°C (-4°F) and 100°C (212°F).

We asked Honor how it envisioned people using this feature, but the vendor, which is owned by Huawei, declined to comment. However, footage shared by the company to its official Weibo account show actors using the phone to check the temperatures of others, suggesting it could be used as a tool to identify potential COVID-19 infections.

Speaking to this publication, Honor denied any aspirations of selling the Play4 Pro to government and healthcare clients, insisting it planned to stick to its usual bread and butter of everyday consumers.

Specs-wise, the Honor Play4 packs the same Kirin 990 platform that first appeared on the Huawei P30 Pro 5G last year. This chip also featured on the P40 Pro flagship, which hit UK shelves in April.

There's also a solid 8GB of RAM, 128GB storage, and a 6.57-inch display. Accompanying that is a 32MP dual-lens selfie camera. On the back, there's a 40MP primary sensor, paired with an 8MP telephoto lens.

An Honor representative told us the firm has no plans to release the phone outside the Middle Kingdom. That's not a shock – even before the Trump administration imposed its embargo on Huawei, the firm held some handsets back for its domestic customers.

Still, the Play4 Pro is noteworthy as it's perhaps the first unambiguously consumer-focused phone to have an IR temperature sensor. The only other vendors shipping this feature tend to be more focused on the industrial or construction sector, like Bullitt (which licenses the CAT brand) and Hong Kong's BlackView.

Given COVID-19 is likely to continue its rampage into the coming months (if not years), this feature feels less esoteric than it would have otherwise done in more tranquil circumstances. We can't help but wonder if any other vendors will follow suit. ®

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