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Huawei continues to taunt the US with more smartphone launches

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has followed the launch of the Mate 60 Pro with variant and a new foldy phone but is still being coy about the specs.

Scott Bicheno

September 11, 2023

2 Min Read
Huawei continues to taunt the US with more smartphone launches

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has followed the launch of the Mate 60 Pro with a variant and a new foldy phone but is still being coy about the specs.

The foldable Huawei Mate X5 has a page on the Huawei Chinese consumer website and is even available for preorder through Huawei’s ecommerce platform. But, just as with the contentious launch of the Mate 60 at the end of last month, the company has declined to publish any details about either its application processor or its cellular modem.

As a reminder, the reason these launches are the source of such intrigue is that the US has been trying to ensure Huawei can’t get hold of even moderately advanced chips by denying it access to US chip vendors like Qualcomm and leading chip foundries such as TSMC. Huawei does have its own application processor arm but China’s leading chip foundry – SMIC – was not previously thought to be capable of the latest manufacturing nodes.

However, initial studies of the Mate 60 Pro appeared to confirm the presence of a Huawei Kirin 9000s chip manufactured on the fairly advanced 7nm process. Furthermore, anecdotal speedtest findings pointed to 5G-like speeds, but Huawei has remained silent on the matter. Instead it seems to be adopting a strategy of back-channel leaks to selected Chinese media and bloggers, perhaps in order to seed the rumour mill while still retaining full official deniability.

This M.O. has been continued with the Mate X5. “While the company did not disclose specific details about the chips used, there have been speculations online that the new series utilizes the Kirin 9000S chip, featuring either 7nm or 5nm technology and stacking technology,” reported the Chinese state-aligned Global Times. Meanwhile Engadget seems to be plugged in to the rumour mill and GSM Arena seems confident it sports both a 7nm Kirin 9000s chip and a 5G modem.

But we’re still no closer to knowing what SMIC’s capabilities at more advanced manufacturing nodes are. Even if it can do 7nm, the yields could be very low, meaning such manufacturing would not be economically viable. Nonetheless, these stealth launches have certainly got the attention of the US and are, at the very least, a source of geopolitical embarrassment. It would be no surprise to see the US announce another tranche of sanctions in response to these launches but the genie could already be out of the bottle.

 

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About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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