Qualcomm has now been granted a temporary license to sell 4G-enabled chips to Huawei, which may help alleviate some pressure exerted by the US on the Chinese firm in lieu of other trade sanctions.
According to a report by Reuters, Qualcomm’s new license will only allow the sale of “a number of products, which includes some 4G products” to Huawei according to a spokesperson for the chipset manufacturer. Reuters also reports that Qualcomm had also applied for a license to sell certain 5G-enabled Snapdragon chips to Huawei but no further information was shared on this extra potential license.
Another notable here is that Qualcomm did not specify or confirm which chips they will be able to provide to the Chinese OEM. Huawei did stockpile a substantial volume of its internally developed Kirin chipsets ahead of the proposed ban, but these stockpiles obviously have a finite lifespan in the world of mobile tech.
Further sanctions meant that Huawei was blocked from using its chip design software and fabrication tools, meaning this deal could provide a lifeline once the Kirin chipset stockpile comes close to running out. Qualcomm has previously provided chips to Huawei for the Chinese firm’s more affordable smartphone lines, so this is not an irregular arrangement — while the intricacies most definitely are.
5G has proved to be a major sticking point for consumers throughout the early and latter half of 2020, but remains in an important transition period. While the granting of a license may allow Huawei to continue produced smartphone hardware, access to high-end Qualcomm chips may be limited. The last flagship 4G-only Qualcomm chip remains the Snapdragon 855+ — which is now more than 18 months old.
With many Qualcomm chips now being 5G-only, Huawei may lose certain consumer interest if 4G-only chips are adopted in upcoming devices.
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