Qualcomm is allowed to sell 4G chips to Huawei, but what’s the point?


Just days after being reported to be preparing to sell off its Honor sub-brand to a Chinese consortium headed by the distributor, Digital China, and the Shenzhen government, Huawei can once again buy processors from US chipmaker, Qualcomm. This is great news for the under-siege Huawei, but it’s perhaps not quite such good news as we might have hoped for.

Why? Because although Qualcomm now has the necessary licenses to sell processors to Huawei, there is a huge caveat in that it is only allowed to sell 4G technology to the handset maker. At a time when 5G connectivity is trickling down to budget handsets such as the OnePlus Nord N10 5G in the US and the Realme 7 5G that is launching in Europe, this would hamstring Huawei in its efforts to regain lost market share.

According to a statement given to Reuters, Qualcomm now has a license to sell a “number of products, which includes some 4G products”. Seeing as Qualcomm’s latest processors such as the Snapdragon 865+, the Snapdragon 690, and the Snapdragon 765G all have built-in 5G modems, it would appear that Huawei would be limited to the Snapdragon 855 and older if it wanted a ‘flagship’ chip, which would offer less performance than the newly launched 5nm Kirin 9000 that powers the Mate 40 Pro.

In basic terms, it means that Huawei can now buy generally out-dated processors for use with 4G handsets. This isn’t just a numbers game by my saying these 4G processors are outdated, rather it’s that they are less capable. For example, if a new mid-range chipset supports a trio of rear cameras, an older chip may only support dual cameras that produce inferior images.

It’s good news, just not great news. Huawei will no doubt be hoping that this is just the first step back from being cast out in the processor wilderness. Source: Reuters

He’s been an Android fan ever since owning an HTC Hero, with the Dell Streak being his first phablet. He currently carries an OPPO Find X2 Pro in his pockets, a Galaxy Tab S5e in his backpack, and thinks nothing of lugging a 17-inch laptop around the world. When not immersed in the world of Android and gadgets, he’s an avid sports fan, and like all South Africans, he loves a good Braai (BBQ).

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