Huawei has no plans to supply Apple with 5G modem chips

(Image Credit: Huawei) (Image credit: Huawei)

Huawei has cast doubt on its founder’s claims that the company could supply rival Apple with 5G modem chips.

The Chinese mobile giant has an in-house semiconductor division that creates chipsets for Huawei mobile phones and other products, including the Balong 5000 5G modem detailed in January.

However, Huawei has repeatedly claimed it has no intention of becoming a major chipset vendor that would compete with Intel and Qualcomm.

Huawei Apple 5G

But with Apple’s efforts to launch a 5G version of the iPhone by 2020 reportedly being hampered by Intel missing deadlines for the development of its own XMM 8160 5G modem chip, it has been suggested another firm could enter the fray.

Qualcomm was the sole supplier of iPhone modem chips between 2011 and 2016, before Apple split the contract with Intel. Intel became the exclusive provider to the iPhone in 2018.

This inevitably led to speculation about Samsung and Huawei, and in a recent interview with CNBC, founder Ren Zhengfei suggested it would be open to the prospect of working with Apple.

These comments have now been undermined by rotating chairman Ken Hu, who told the company’s annual global analyst summit in Shenzhen that it had no plans to enter the handset chipset market and looked forward to competing with Apple in 5G smartphones.

In any case, it’s unlikely that even if the two firms could agree a deal that Apple’s 2020 deadline would be met if Intel was unable to pull through. Details from Apple and Qualcomm’s court case revealed that the former had explored the use of Samsung and MediaTek chips but despite the Samsung Exynos Modem 5100 going into mass production, it is unclear if either company is a realistic option.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.