Trade restrictions imposed by the US government have made it difficult for Chinese electronics company Huawei to source chips and other components for its smartphones in recent years. But over the past week or so the company has launched four new smartphones that show that Huawei might have another path forward.
Researchers at TechInsights tell Bloomberg and Reuters that Huawei’s latest phones are using more components made in China than the company’s previous products, allowing Huawei to offer phones with the kind of performance you’d have seen from competitor’s flagship phones a few years ago.
Specifically, the Kirin 9000s processor found in phones like the Huawei Mate 60 Pro appears to be a 7nm chip with processing power on par with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, which was released in 2021.
The chips are manufactured by SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation), which is a Chinese chip foundry that appears to be catching up to rivals like TSMC and Samsung, even if it’s still a few years behind (MediaTek recently announced that it’s developed one of the first chips using TSMC’s 3nm process, and Apple’s next-gen iPhone processors are also expected to be 3nm chips).
Still, China has been investing heavily in locally-sourced technology over the past few years in response to US sanctions, and this could be a sign that Huawei and other Chinese companies may have viable alternatives. It’s unclear what kind of yields SMIC is capable of though – the Mate 60 Pro sold out soon after it went on sale in China this week, which could indicate strong demand… but it could also be a sign of limited supply.