Huawei Targets Top Smartphone Spot Amidst Row With US

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Huawei

As political battle rages, Huawei highlights stellar smartphone growth, introduces groundbreaking 5G gear – and promises to show its folding smartphone next month

Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei has said it expects to become the world’s top-selling smartphone vendor as early as this year, even as it faces intensifying political pressure from the US and its allies.

The company also said it plans to launch a foldable smartphone at Mobile World Congress next month, and introduced a new 5G modem and a 5G base station.

The company’s projections, delivered at a press event in Beijing, also present a stark contrast to the fortunes of rivals including Samsung and Apple, which have both signalled flagging sales, particularly in China.

The US is intensifying pressure on its allies to ban Huawei parts from their 5G networks on national security grounds, leading Australia and New Zealand to do so.

5G, smartphone growth

Poland, currently Huawei’s biggest market in Eastern Europe, said this week it was also planning to place limits on the company.

A former Huawei employee was arrested earlier this month in Poland on spying charges, and the firm’s chief financial officer, the founder’s daughter, was arrested in Canada on charges relating to violations of US sanctions, charges Huawei has denied.

But the company said such moves have had little effect on its growth, with carrier business head Ryan Ding saying Huawei has won 30 5G contracts, including 18 in Europe, nine in the Middle East and three in Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, its consumer division reported a 50 percent jump in revenue last year to more than $52 billion (£40bn).

The division accounted for 48 percent of Huawei’s total revenues, putting it ahead of the telecoms gear business for the first time.

Foldable smartphone

Huawei said it plans to introduce a foldable smartphone next month that will be powered by a new 5G chipset.  The device is set to go on sale by April at the earliest, he said.

Consumer division chief Richard Yu said the company shipped 208 million handsets last year and was on track to become the world’s top seller of smartphones this year or “next year at the latest”, even without access to the US market.

“It’s only politics guys which are trying to put pressure on us,” Yu said at the event, Reuters reported. “Our customers have trust and confidence in us.”

Huawei’s growth occurred in spite of a 3 percent drop in global smartphone sales last year, according to IDC, which expects a return to single-digit growth this year.

Hu said Huawei’s new Balong 5000 5G chipset is a rival to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 and is the world’s most powerful 5G modem, being suitable for use in vehicles.

He said it is the world’s first to fully support both Non-Standalone (NSA) and Standalone (SA) 5G architectures.

The company said it uses its own chipsets in its high-end phones and servers but doesn’t intend to become a standalone chip vendor competing directly with Qualcomm or Intel.

Huawei also introduced the Tiangang 5G base station chipset for use by carriers.

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