Huawei’s smartphone division is going through a rough time. After having its software rights taken away, the ban now also puts its hardware division in a frenzy. If matters don’t improve, it will be forced to abandon its HiSilicon chipsets and look at third-party alternatives.
All Huawei flagships are powered by inhouse Kirin chipsets that are designed by its HiSilicon subsidiary and contract manufactured by TSMC. However, additional sanctions imposed in May prohibited the two companies from having trade relations going forward. While existing orders will be honoured (such as the Kirin 1020 chipset), Huawei will be left without a chip supplier soon. Reports suggest that the upcoming Huawei Mate 40 flagship might be unaffected, but its 2021 flagships might not be.
A notable industry insider (@Mobile Chip Expert) took to Weibo to share that its next wave of flagships with a 5nm chipset will not have processors designed by HiSilicon. If this turns out to be true, the Huawei P50 series will be the first high-end smartphone to not implement a Kirin SoC.
Potential alternative chipset suppliers include Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek. Qualcomm being an American company rules out the possibility of a Snapdragon-powered Huawei device. The others, however, do use chipset designs based on American schematics and their production lines also have US equipment, so it remains to be seen what workaround is opted for.
Looking at the current scenario, MediaTek is the most likely solution for Huawei’s future flagships. Moreover, a spokesperson recently went on record to state that Huawei and MediaTek will be working closely together for future products, which could be another hint at this partnership. MediaTek’s recent offerings have redefined the price-to-performance ratio for smartphones as well as brought 5G capabilities to new price points.
At a local press conference, Wang Yonggang, general manager of Huawei’s P series products, talked about how the next smartphone in the series is already in development. We should hear more about this partnership in the future.