With recent statements from Huawei management about the company’s possible return to the 5G smartphone market, rumors have surfaced online that the company has already started testing its own 5G chips. These rumors confirm expectations that Huawei will resume its activities in this market segment, despite the sanctions and the fact that Qualcomm only supplies 4G chips to the Chinese company.
In early August, Huawei CEO Richard Yu announced the potential return of the company’s flagship 5G smartphones to the market. Chinese media, citing sources, reported that Huawei’s 5G smartphones are expected to go on sale in late 2023, possibly as early as October.
From recent publications in Chinese media, it became known that a certain company is testing 5G chips and single-chip platforms. The performance of these chips approaches the level of flagship solutions. It is assumed that a smartphone with such chips could come onto the market as a flagship model. Huawei is probably behind these tests.
However, at Qualcomm’s most recent fiscal year-end meeting, the leadership team confirmed that it had not received approval to ship 5G chips to Huawei. This is consistent with Richard Yu’s earlier comments that Qualcomm has not resumed shipments of 5G chips.
Due to the impossibility of importing chips, Huawei apparently decided to rely on its own resources. Huawei has previously produced its own Kirin family of 5G chips, but at TSMC’s facilities, which it no longer has access to due to US sanctions. It is now reportedly working with SMIC to make chips. It is reported that Huawei may develop a new Kirin single-chip platform or integrate 5G modems separately.
However, Huawei can only rely on SMIC for manufacturing, and given the limited manufacturing capabilities for a process technology close to TSMC’s 7nm technology, experts estimate that Huawei’s 5G smartphone shipments will only be 2 to 3 million devices could be.