BEIJING – Struggling with U.S. sanctions, Huawei unveiled a folded smartphone with an 8-inch (20-centimeter) screen nationwide on Monday to demonstrate its technical capability but said it will only be sold in China.
The Mate X2 highlights the challenges for Huawei Technologies Ltd. after Washington cut access to U.S. processor chips and Google services. Last year, Huawei fell from the best-selling global smartphone brand to sixth place.
Huawei claims that the Mate X2, its third folding phone, has crisper images and better sound for movies and games. It runs on Huawei’s most advanced processor chip, the Kirin 9000.
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The phone offers a “true immersive experience,” Huawei’s consumer unit president Richard Yu said at a launch event that was broadcast online.
Huawei, China’s first global tech brand, was hit by being blacklisted by the then-export blacklist – President Donald Trump in 2019 as a security threat, an accusation that the company to deny. Huawei sold its Honor smartphone brand at a budget price in November to focus resources on higher-end models.
The Mate X2 will start at 17,999 Yuan ($ 2,785), according to Yu.
Monday’s launch “says a lot about how it still wants to keep up with the advancement in technology, even if it speaks commercially, its shipping will be severely hampered,” Bryan said. If from IDC in an email.
Earlier executives said stock of Huawei stock and other components in preparation for a possible U.S. cut. It is not clear how long these sources would last.
Huawei designed the Kirin line that powers its most advanced smartphones but relies on outside manufacturers including Taiwanese TSMC to make them.
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The Trump administration lifted sanctions last year by preventing TSMC and other global manufacturers from using U.S. technology to make chips for Huawei, including those that designed the company.
Chinese officials accuse Washington of scrapping national security protests to eliminate tech rivals. Huawei is denying allegations that it may help Chinese spin.
Excluding Google music and other pre-installed services, Huawei’s smartphone sales, including Honor, fell 22% last year to 188.5 million, according to Canalys.
Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said on Feb. 9 that he did not expect new U.S. President Joe Biden to impose sanctions on Trump but expressed confidence that the company can survive. Huawei, headquartered in Shenzhen in southern China, is also the largest global manufacturer of switching equipment for telephone networks.
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Huawei’s smartphone unit relies more and more on its home market in China, which accounts for more than 70% of sales, up from 50% in 2019. The loss of services had no effect Google in China, where they are not allowed and Huawei already used locally alternatives.
The ruling Communist Party of China has spent billions of dollars trying to build their own chip business. But domestic manufacturers don’t have the technology to make chips for Huawei’s most advanced products.
“The big bigger question is about how long their current stock collection will last,” Ma IDC said.
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Huawei has not yet accounted for 2020 sales and profits, but founder Ren said they were better than the previous year. Huawei reported that revenue for the first nine months of 2020 rose 9.9% to 671.3 billion Yuan ($ 100.4 billion).