While many Android handset makers largely rely on Qualcomm for their chipsets, Huawei, much like Apple, have been mostly self-reliant where their chipmaking arm, Hisilicon, makes the Kirin chipset which can be found in pretty much all of Huawei’s flagship P-series and Mate-series handsets.
But that could change in 2021 because according to reports, it seems that Huawei’s 2021 smartphones might rely on third-party chipsets, like those made by MediaTek. While Huawei’s Hisilicon designs its Kirin chipsets, they are fabricated by TSMC, a Taiwanese company.
Due to Huawei being on the US Entity List, it was recently reported that non-US companies who rely on US technology are not allowed to do business with them. This means that future Kirin chipsets will not have a manufacturer and until Huawei gets their own foundries up and running or finds an alternative manufacturer, it appears that MediaTek will be their best bet.
We cannot speak to the performance of MediaTek’s 2021 chipsets yet, but this is no doubt going to be a huge blow to Huawei. For starters, the company’s smartphones rely on an operating system that is not theirs. Their devices also no longer have access to the Google Play Store, but at the very least they had a chipset they could call their own. Now if they cannot even equip their phones with chipsets of their own making, it feels like Huawei’s identity is slowly being eroded by the US-China trade war.
We’re not sure what Huawei’s plans are moving forwards, but apparently there have been talks that Samsung and TSMC are looking into setting up production lines that do not rely on US equipment Whether or not it will be in time for Huawei’s 2021 smartphones remains to be seen.