Embattled Chinese tech giant Huawei was planning to launch a 2021 model of its strategic smartphone brand the P series sometime in the first half of next year, people with direct knowledge of the matter told TheElec.
The company had traditionally launched the flagship P series of smartphones in the first half of the year and the Mate series in the second half.
OLED panel suppliers of P50, Samsung Display and LG Display, were preparing for supply as of the current time, the people said.
Production schedule for P50 was set but whether there will orders for the Mate series remained unclear, they said.
Huawei’s latest application processor, Kirin 9000, used for the Mate 40 series unveiled last month, is expected to be used in the P50. The company had traditionally unveiled a new AP for the Mate series and used the same chip for the newest P series launching in the following year.
Back in August, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, had said the year 2020 could be the last for a Kirin AP. Huawei had introduced Kirin 9000 as the world’s first 5nm 5G AP, boasting 30% more transistors than Apple’s 5nm A14 used in the iPhone 12 series.
Earlier this month, Huawei had announced that it was selling its Honor sub-brand. Honor posts around 70 million units of smartphones a year. This has raised questions of whether Huawei can continue to its smartphone operation.
Wan Biao, COO of Huawei’s consumer business, recently joined Honor as chairman of the board. Huawei had said it plans to not interfere in the management of Honor after it is sold. Huawei is effectively saying goodbye to one of its core managerial personnel with Wan’s transfer to Honor.
Huawei had lost access to Google Mobile Service from US bans since last year. It has also lost supply lines for core components for smartphones. Huawei CEO Yu had said the company lost 60 million units in smartphone shipment in 2019 due to US sanctions. Huawei expects shipment for 2020 to drop even further compared to 2019 due to additional sanctions by the US.
Huawei’s pains have been a benefit to Samsung Electronics. The South Korean tech giant is not expected to face any new fast follower such as Huawei in the short-term.
Samsung Mobile posted 102 trillion won in sales last year __ Huawei’s consumer business group posted 79 trillion won in comparison.
The Chinese company had been catching up fast in the lucrative premium smartphone sector prior to US sanctions. Huawei said it shipped 44 million units of P and Mate series smartphones in 2019. This is near level with Samsung’s shipment of its flagship Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series, which combined was 45 million units, in 2019.
Huawei was also the only Chinese smartphone maker that could develop its own AP, like Samsung and Apple. Companies such as Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo, which all boasts annual shipment of over 100 million units, lack the capacity to develop their own chips.