Huawei drops 5G for new P50 phones as US sanctions grip

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Huawei Technologies updates

Huawei Technologies revealed its first premium smartphones equipped with the Chinese group’s alternative to Android software but without 5G connectivity on July 29, in a setback forced by restrictions on its access to American technology.

Huawei — the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker as recently as last year — said its latest P50 and P50 Pro phones run on HarmonyOS.

Consumer electronics group chief executive Richard Yu unveiled the phones in a low-key, Chinese-language-only online event — a stark contrast to previous launches aimed at a global audience. Yu did not say whether the new models would be available outside the Chinese market.

“Because of the US sanctions, our new smartphones cannot run on 5G wireless connections even though we are surely the global leader in 5G technology,” Yu said. “But with 4G, Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and our AI computing algorithms, we still can provide as powerful a performance as all the 5G phones.”

This article is from Nikkei Asia, a global publication with a uniquely Asian perspective on politics, the economy, business and international affairs. Our own correspondents and outside commentators from around the world share their views on Asia, while our Asia300 section provides in-depth coverage of 300 of the biggest and fastest-growing listed companies from 11 economies outside Japan.

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Most of the new premium smartphones from Samsung Electronics, Xiaomi and other Huawei rivals are 5G models. Apple shifted to faster 5G technology last year for its top-of-the-line iPhone 12 series, and plans to add 5G to its lower-cost iPhone SE next year, Nikkei Asia has reported.

Huawei was an early adopter of 5G technology. The company’s Mate 30 series in 2019 was the first in the industry to feature an integrated 5G chipset with a built-in 5G modem — all designed by its semiconductor arm HiSilicon Technologies.

The new P50 smartphones will run on the Kirin 9000 processor developed by HiSilicon, as well as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 4G processor, according to Huawei.

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