Huawei will skirt around US ban with 4G-only Snapdragon chips
Despite its aggressive push in getting its own HarmonyOS and revamped EMUI skin to a large number of its current phones, Huawei may still be in trouble as far as making new devices go. It is crippled in its ability to buy the latest and greatest mobile processors from Qualcomm as well as making its own Kirin silicon. Huawei, however, is fond of finding loopholes and workarounds, and its latest strategy might be to simply drop 5G from the Snapdragon 778G and the upcoming Snapdragon 898 that it will be buying from Qualcomm.
Huawei’s sanctions in the US really revolve around 5G, prohibiting it from buying or accessing products that are related to the new network technology. It is, for example, unable to buy Qualcomm chipsets that have integrated 5G modems, and it is also banned from buying components and materials it could have used to manufacture its own 5G processors. Those restrictions, however, have a rather convenient loophole that could still let Huawei purchases Qualcomm products that don’t have 5G.
According to tipster Digital Chat Station, Huawei will be able to buy a version of the Snapdragon 778G that has been stripped of its 5G capabilities. This 4G-only chip will eventually find its way to the next Huawei Nova 9 series expected to debut this month.
Perhaps more interesting, however, is that there might also be a 4G-only version of the unannounced SM8450 or Snapdragon 898, the presumed commercial name of Qualcomm’s next flagship application processor (AP). This would be the same strategy that Huawei and Qualcomm used to be able to equip the Huawei P60 series with a Snapdragon 888 without violating the US ban. Depending on Qualcomm’s schedule, this Snapdragon 898 4G could debut in a Huawei Mate 50 or, more likely, next year’s Huawei P60.
This workaround conveniently allows Huawei to deliver the high-end performance that current smartphones are expected to have while cutting out a feature that isn’t that widely available yet anyway. However, it remains to be seen how long this loophole will remain open, as many people in the US government are moving to keep Huawei, including its former subsidiary Honor, on a tighter leash.