A temporary license to sell 4G-enabled chips to Huawei has now been issued to Qualcomm, which could help relieve some of the pressure put by the US on the Chinese company in place of other trade sanctions.
According to a report by Reuters, according to a spokesperson for the chipset manufacturer, Qualcomm‘s new license would only allow the sale to Huawei of a range of products including some 4G products.’ Reuters also reports that Qualcomm also applied for a license to sell to Huawei some 5G-enabled Snapdragon chips, but no further information on this additional potential license was shared.
Another notable thing here is that Qualcomm did not specify or confirm which chips the Chinese OEM would be able to provide. Huawei stockpiled a significant amount of its internally produced Kirin chipsets ahead of the proposed ban, but in the world of mobile tech, these stockpiles clearly have a finite lifespan.
Further sanctions meant that Huawei was blocked from using its software and manufacturing tools for chip design, meaning that once the Kirin chipset stockpile comes close to running out this deal could provide a lifeline. Qualcomm has previously provided Huawei with chips for the more affordable smartphone lines of the Chinese company, so this is not an irregular arrangement, while most certainly the intricacies are.
Throughout the early and latter half of 2020, 5G has proven to be a major sticking point for consumers, but remains in an important transition phase. Although licensing may allow Huawei to continue the production of smartphone hardware, there may be limited access to high-end Qualcomm chips. The Snapdragon 855+, which is now over 18 months old, remains the last flagship 4G-only Qualcomm chip.
With many Qualcomm chips now being 5G-only, if 4G-only chips are adopted in upcoming devices, Huawei may lose certain consumer interest.