US sanctions have severely affected the Chinese giant
Huawei has long been using its own internal chips for a whole range of phones. While these Kirin processors are neck-and-neck with some of the most popular Android flagships of the day, the US crackdown on Huawei has left Kirin processors in limbo. Now, it looks like Huawei won’t be bringing back its Kirin phone processors, at least in the near future.
Some reports in the past few weeks have suggested that Kirin-branded processors could return in 2023 as they are in the final production stages. In a statement to a Chinese media outlet (via GSM Arena), Huawei confirmed the reports are incorrect, and has no plans to release a new mobile processor next year.
The long-running saga of US sanctions on Huawei has not been limited to the company’s access to Google’s Android and Play Store – which could easily be resolved with a customized version, at least for its home market. What hurt the future of Huawei smartphones is the severed relations with Arm and the loss of access to the microprocessor architecture, which is an important part of mobile processors (and now even laptops). Without these core technologies required to manufacture chips, Huawei is left with very limited options.
The Chinese smartphone maker will have to repurpose some of the oldest Kirin SoCs for which it still has licenses. Its other feasible option is to stick with Qualcomm’s 4G processors only. Huawei resorted to a second solution with its recently launched Mate 50 series phones after Qualcomm got permission from the US government to allow it to sell its flagship processors to Huawei – but without the 5G radios.
Neither of these two solutions is ideal. Either way, Huawei smartphones will fall behind in the competition, especially without 5G capabilities. But for now, it seems like the best option left for Huawei until it finds a way to fix its chip manufacturing situation.