The Huawei P50 launch might not be far off, with a March date rumored, but when the new Huawei phone finally launches, it might be quite hard to get a hold of. We've heard that stock of Huawei's 2021 smartphones could be dramatically down from 2020.
A report published by China Securities Journal suggests that Huawei has been ordering far fewer parts for its 2020 smartphones, including the P50 and Huawei Mate 50, than last year – CSJ also suggests the 'delivery time', or the date the phones will be manufactured by, could be delayed too.
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This news corroborates news from Nikkei Asian Review from the day before, which suggests Huawei is ordering parts for roughly 70-80 million smartphones. That might sound like a lot, but it's less than half the reported 189 million units Huawei sold in 2020 (and way down from the 240 million in 2019).
So it sounds like Huawei will make far fewer units of its 2021 smartphones than it did of its 2020 devices – that will mean less of the devices to go around, so it's very possible that it'll be harder to find a Huawei P50 yourself if you want one.
Why is this happening?
It's no secret that Huawei's presence outside China has decreased over 2019 and 2020 thanks to the Huawei ban, which means vital Google apps like the App Store aren't allowed to be installed on the brand's phones. While the company has taken strides to make up this shortcoming with its own app store, it's not yet competing with Google's (and the underlying Huawei Mobile Services is still some way short of Google Mobile Services too).
As as result many phone buyers have fled to other brands which have shot up in popularity in Huawei's place – although Huawei's market share hasn't dwindled as much as it could have.
It's likely Huawei is anticipating poor sales for its flagship phones as we enter the third calendar year of the Huawei Ban, which is why it's opting to make far fewer smartphones for the coming cycle.
There's another possibility though – it's not clear whether the 189 million and 240 million sales figures include Huawei's Honor phone brand, but Huawei sold Honor in late 2020, so the 70-80 million figure definitely doesn't. If Honor phones were included in the former stats, the drop in smartphone parts would be understandable, as it'd be making significantly fewer smartphones – though not half as many, so there would still be a drop in there.
The Huawei P50 series, including possibly a Pro and Pro Plus model, is expected to launch around March 2021, so stay tuned for any more information we get about the phones in the weeks ahead.
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Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.