Huawei reportedly plans to relaunch 5G phones as early as next year in an effort to regain market share that was lost in the fallout from US sanctions.
A Financial Times report published Thursday says Huawei may try to circumvent US sanctions by redesigning its smartphone to accommodate “less advanced” chipsets made by Chinese companies that will enable 5G. However, this approach risks impacting user experience, the report says. Prior to Washington tightening sanctions, a Huawei subsidiary designed the chipsets before it was manufactured by leading chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor.
The report went on to say that Huawei was also considering phone cases with built-in modules that enable 5G connectivity. Such cases are already on the market.
Huawei pointed to the restrictions on what it can offer and how that affects its operations.
“Huawei strictly follows the law in all countries where we operate. As a result of sanctions, we can only offer consumers 4G smartphones,” a Huawei spokesperson told CNET in an email on Friday. “Despite this, we will continue to innovate and keep bringing a better user experience to consumers.”
Earlier this year, Huawei launched a nearly $2,000 foldable phone, called the Mate XS 2, but it’s only compatible with 4G networks in this era of 5G, the next-generation wireless technology.
Analysts say that even if Huawei manages to launch new 5G phones, it’ll face an uphill battle in reclaiming international market share without Google. US sanctions have also restricted Huawei’s access to Google, which means its phones do not run popular apps such as the Google Play Store or Gmail.
In 2021, Huawei’s revenues for its smartphone-led consumer business plunged by 50% compared to the year before.
The US has long alleged that Huawei maintains a tight relationship with the Chinese government, creating fear that equipment from these manufacturers could be used to spy on other countries and companies. Huawei has repeatedly denied that its products pose a security threat.
In 2020, the Trump administration leveled tougher sanctions on Huawei, which restricted any foreign semiconductor company from selling chips developed using US technology to the Chinese firm, without first obtaining a license to do so.