Samsung highly unlikely to supply smartphone chips to Huawei

Chinese firm may use both MediaTek and Unisoc in the short term and may turn to SMIC in the long term

By Amit Chettupuzha

DUBAI: Samsung is very unlikely to supply smartphone chips to Huawei and will not like to carry a risk in a challenging economic environment and geopolitical situation, industry experts said.

The world’s second-largest smartphone vendor has given its chipset – Exynos 980 – to Vivo on devices such as X30, X30 Pro and S6, and before that with Exynos 8895 to power Meizu’s 15th-anniversary flagship – 15 Plus.

“It is a possibility that Samsung could provide chips to Huawei but the issue to be considered here should be whether Samsung will be pressured by the current US administration to not provide chips to Huawei,” Dr. Ramazan Yavuz, Senior Research Manager AT International Data Corporation (IDC), said.

Shobhit Srivastava, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, said that he is not confident that Samsung will leverage their technology to Huawei as there is competition in the high end.

“Samsung knows that Oppo or Vivo is not going to replicate their chipset but Hisilicon may do something about it,” he said.

For the time being, Yavuz said that Huawei could use both MediaTek and Unisoc and in the long term, if SMIC catches up in process node technology, Huawei may turn to SMIC for their chips.

In an alternative scenario, and again in long term, smartphone chip part of HiSilicon could be dissolved and independent company/companies could be spawning to supply to Huawei,” he said.

With the impact of the pressure from US government, he said that Huawei’s premium smartphone business will be negatively affected.

“Huawei inventory levels are sufficient to last a 12 months timeframe but Huawei will need to become more and more independent,” he said.

Despite competing in the premium segment against Apple, which caught a good wind with 11 series, he said that Samsung and Chinese vendors are insistent on entering and winning a foothold in the segment.

In the smartphone space, Srivastava said that China will be a contributor for Huawei’s growth.

In the premium segment, he said that Huawei market share is expected to decline while Oppo and Vivo will get a little edge in 5G devices in China.

However, he said that Huawei may use the same old chipset for a year or two and not more than that.

“The Huawei ban is expected to continue even if Joe Biden becomes the next US President. It is a bigger issue and the FBI has also said about it. Huawei issue has become the talk of the town,” he said.

The US administration has blamed China for the Covid pandemic and accused Huawei of espionage, facilitating human rights violations and imposing a new national security law on the former British colony of Hong Kong.

However, Srivastava said that the state of 5G in China is going to be so huge and Huawei is going to be a big player and more than 50% the global 5G smartphones will be sold in China alone.

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