Three outside technology research firms covering China’s smartphone industry told Reuters that Huawei should be able to acquire 5G processors domestically using its own advances in semiconductor design tools and chip manufacturing by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co ( SMIC).
Due to confidentiality agreements with customers, the companies can only speak under the condition of anonymity when citing industry sources. These industry resources include suppliers to Huawei.
Huawei declined to comment on the matter. A request for comment has been sent to SMIC, but they have not responded.
It’s been more than three years since the company admitted it was in “survival mode”, so a comeback in the 5G phone industry would be considered a win for the company. Huawei’s consumer division revenue hit an all-time high of 483 billion yuan ($67 billion) in 2020, before falling more than 50 percent the following year.
The Shenzhen-based technology giant previously competed with Apple and Samsung to become the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer. However, starting in 2019, it will be subject to a series of US restrictions that would limit access to chip manufacturing tools needed to produce its most advanced models.
The governments of the United States and Europe have called Huawei a security concern, an allegation the company strongly denies. Since then, Huawei has only sold limited batches of 5G models with processors previously stored.
When sales bottomed out last year, Huawei plummeted from most global rankings. However, the company rose to one-tenth of the market in China in the first quarter, the consultancy said Channelsdespite being stuck selling previous generation 4G handsets.
One of the research companies stated that it expected Huawei to adopt SMIC’s N+1 production method. Due to the fact that the production rate of usable chips is expected to be less than 50%, 5G shipments will be limited to somewhere between 2 million and 4 million units. Another company estimated that the cargo could reach 10 million units, although they could not provide any other information.
According to Canalys, Huawei had its best year ever in 2019, with 240.6 million handsets shipped worldwide. This was before the company sold its subsidiary Honor, which accounted for more than a fifth of total shipments that year.
Earlier this month, the state-backed newspaper China Securities Daily claimed that Huawei has raised its mobile shipping target for 2023 from 30 million units at the start of the year to 40 million units. However, the article made no reference to a return to 5G phones.
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