China’s Huawei may make comeback with 5G smartphones

SHENZHEN: China’s Huawei Technologies is plotting a return to the 5G smartphone industry by the end of this year, according to research firms, signalling a comeback after a US ban on equipment sales decimated its consumer electronics business.

According to Reuters, three research firms have confirmed that Huawei should be able to procure 5G chips domestically using its own advances in semiconductor design tools along with chipmaking from Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co (SMIC).

The firms, citing industry sources including Huawei suppliers, spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements with clients.

Huawei declined to comment. SMIC did not respond to a request for comment.

A return to the 5G phone market would mark a victory for the company that for almost three years said it was in survival mode. Huawei’s consumer business revenue peaked at 483 billion yuan ($67 billion) in 2020, before plummeting by almost 50% a year later.

The Shenzhen-based tech giant once vied with Apple and Samsung to be the world’s biggest handset maker until US restrictions beginning in 2019 cut its access to chipmaking tools essential for producing its most advanced models.

The US and European governments have labelled Huawei a security risk, a charge the company denies. Since then, Huawei has only sold limited batches of 5G models using stockpiled chips.

Stuck selling last-generation 4G handsets, Huawei fell from most rankings worldwide last year, when sales reached a low point, though it rose to a 10% market share in China in the first quarter, according to consultancy Canalys. Reuters.


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