Huawei’s 5G modems could be a good backup option for Apple

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Huawei launched the Balong 5000 5G modem in January.
Huawei's 5G modems may be as good as Qualcomm's.
Photo: Huawei

Having concluded its battle with Qualcomm, Apple will use the company’s modems for its eagerly anticipated 5G iPhone.

However, it seemingly has a strong backup option in the form of Huawei’s own 5G chip. The Chinese smartphone maker has previously said that it would happily do business with Apple. Now an independent analysis of its 5G tech shows that they are on par with other top-tier options.

Analysis carried out by Tokyo-based teardown specialist, TechanaLye, showed that Huawei’s chips fit the quality bill for semiconductors already used by Apple. A report by Nikkei Asian Review notes that:

“The evidence suggests that in 5G chip technology Huawei could be capable of rivalling Qualcomm, the world leader in mobile chips, whose semiconductors are crucial to Apple’s plans for a 5G iPhone … Huawei’s development capacity was ‘equal to or better than Apple’s and occupies the world’s top level,’ said TechanaLye CEO Hiroharu Shimizu, a former senior technology executive at Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics.”

Huawei’s chips are developed at its subsidiary HiSilicon Technologies, founded in 2004. HiSilicon is highly secretive and does not disclose much about its operations, thereby making it difficult to gauge the scale on which it takes place. However, it lags behind Qualcomm in terms of sales. While Qualcomm earned $16.6 billion in sales last year, HiSilicon took in just $5.5 billion.

The company uses IP licensed from the U.K.-based Arm Holdings, and outsources manufacturing to TSMC, which already creates many chips for Apple.

The fall of Intel’s 5G chip

Huawei isn’t the only company which may have come close to selling Apple 5G chips for its iPhones. Another name in the running was Intel. However, Intel recently announced that it was getting out of the 5G smartphone modem business, after Apple and Qualcomm resolved their multi-year legal battle.

Are you excited at the prospect of a 5G iPhone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.