Many thought with the much-publicized HarmonyOS launch in early June that Huawei had found its footing in the smartphone market again, but perhaps the biggest blow is yet to come: the Huawei Mate 50 flagship smartphone may have been canceled.
This news comes from Chinese website cnBeta (opens in new tab), which reports that there will be no new Huawei Mate device this year, for the first time since the line launched in 2013. Apparently, the reason is component shortages due to US trade restrictions, though the global silicon shortage likely isn't helping.
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Take this information with a pinch of salt - cnBeta has correctly predicted tech events before, but it's also got some incorrect assertions under its belt. We reached out to Huawei but it declined to comment, so it's likely that we'll have to wait until the phone's rough launch window of September, to see if it actually comes along or not.
It's hard to be totally surprised by the news, though. The Huawei P50 line of phones was expected in the first few months of the year, but at time of writing in mid-June, we're yet to even hear a launch date.
The rocky road
It feels tiring to view each piece of Huawei news through the lens of the 2019 Huawei ban, which saw US companies unable to trade with the Chinese one (most notably Google, so subsequent Huawei phones didn't have Google apps). However the company's fate is tied to the event.
After the ban, Huawei seemed to continue as though nothing was wrong, selling its phones at a high price all over the world, and not just in China (where the lack of Google apps isn't a deal-breaker, as they're not used there). The aforementioned HarmonyOS is a brand new operating system the company designed, intended to replace Android on its devices.
So far so good, and from a distance it would seem that the ban had barely affected Huawei. However this Mate 50 news suggests otherwise: it sounds like the company's efforts to source phone components outside the US hasn't been a total success.
Moreover, if Huawei doesn't bring a Mate 50 to market, whatever the official reason, it's the best indication yet that 'business as usual' isn't working for the company.
As previously stated, this isn't totally Huawei's fault. The world is currently wrapped up in a silicon shortage, and smartphone processors are in short supply as a result. Rumors suggest the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 has been canceled because of stock shortages, just like the Mate 50.
However since the cnBeta report points to trade restrictions as the main reason behind the phone's cancelation, we can't use the chipset supply issues as the main scapegoat.
We'll have to wait on official comment from Huawei, or the Mate 50's likely launch window to roll around, before we know the phone is gone for sure though.