The Huawei Mate 40 may be the last smartphone with a HiSilicon Kirin chip
The Huawei Mate 40 is just around the corner. Leaked renders have shown what could potentially be the next smartphone camera powerhouse, even though it won’t pack Google Mobile Services. At an event in China, however, Richard Yu, President of the Huawei Consumer Business Group, told attendees that the Huawei Mate 40 will be equipped with a HiSilicon Kirin chipset. However, it may end up being the last Huawei-branded smartphone to do so.
Richard Yu says this is because HiSilicon will no longer be able to fabricate Kirin chipsets after September 15, 2020. This comes as a result of contract chipmakers being barred from using U.S.-developed tech to fabricate chips for Huawei, thus effectively barring TSMC from fabricating Kirin chipsets. TSMC produces all of HiSilicon’s high-end Kirin chips for Huawei’s flagship phones as well as their networking processors for 5G base stations, their AI chips, and their server chips. China-based SMIC has fabricated HiSilicon’s 14nm Kirin 710A chip, but the Chinese chip fabricator is far behind the likes of TSMC and Samsung when it comes to the manufacturing process. Come September 15th, Huawei may end up being unable to even compete with other smartphone makers in China.
As previously reported, though, the next generation of Kirin chipsets designed for the Huawei Mate 40 has already been fabricated and Huawei has already stocked up on them. What this means for future Huawei devices, though, is uncertain. Huawei does not seem to have any plans to purchase Samsung Exynos chipsets, for starters. Eric Zu, Huawei’s rotating chairman, said in late March that the company could still buy chips from MediaTek and Unisoc, which does imply that Exynos isn’t even really an option for them. They are already experimenting with high-end MediaTek Dimensity chipsets in a few devices, but the U.S. may find a way to intervene and prevent Huawei from continuing to use MediaTek’s chips.
The Huawei Mate 40 will be powered by whatever the latest Kirin chipset is, but then after that, we may not see any new HiSilicon Kirin chipsets. This is currently a fast-evolving story, though, and without a significant u-turn by the U.S. government, this could have dire consequences for Huawei.