The recently-launched Huawei P40 smartphone is powered by a number of US components despite a government ban on companies from the country doing business with the Chinese mobile giant.
Last year, the US Department of Commerce effectively blacklisted Huawei on national security grounds.
Huawei has denied any allegations of wrongdoing but nonetheless was barred from access to important technologies such as chips and Google Mobile Services.
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Huawei P40 teardown
The P40 is the first major flagship to be affected by the ban and offers an insight into how the restrictions are affecting the company. A teardown by the FT found that although Huawei has made significant progress on reducing its dependency on US components, several modules have found their way into the device.
The company already produces its own processors and other components, while it has managed to source new suppliers from China, South Korea, and Taiwan. However less commoditised items are more difficult to replace.
Radio Frequency (RF) modules require significant amounts of time and money to develop and are significant barriers of entry to overcome. This helps explain why the P40 features modules from Qualcomm, Skyworks and Qorvo.
These companies will have permission from the Commerce Department to work with Huawei, with FT confirming the existence of a Qualcomm licence. Washington is issuing individual licences to firms who want to sell non-sensitive goods to Huawei, with many companies arguing the ban would deny them valuable revenue streams.
It is not clear who has been given a licence so far, with Micron and Microsoft among the most high-profile recipients. Google has confirmed it has applied for a licence to deal with Huawei, a move which would allow Android to return to the company’s smartphones.
Huawei is also facing difficulties in the telecoms market with the US urging countries around the world to exclude Huawei from their rollouts of 5G, again on national security grounds. Washington has yet to produce any evidence to support its claims and the pressure has so far yielded limited results.
- Via FT