Huawei looking to license out smartphone designs

Huawei is reportedly looking to license out its smartphone designs in the latest bid to get around crippling US sanctions.

The Chinese tech giant, which not so long ago was one of the major global smartphone superpowers, has seen its fortunes decline since the Trump administration applied punishing restrictions. Now Huawei is seeking to license its smartphone designs out to third party companies and keep its floundering consumer operation alive.

That’s the claim being made in a new Bloomberg report. It alleges that Huawei is in the process of negotiating agreements with Xnova, a unit of the state-owned China Postal and Telecommunications Appliances Co. (PTAC), and Chinese telecom equipment maker TD Tech Ltd., to make phones to Huawei’s designs.

As part of the current sanctions, Huawei is restricted from dealing with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Qualcomm Inc., which all but cuts them off from vital processor and modem supply lines. By using these other companies to build and brand its phones, Huawei would essentially gain access to the necessary chip technology, as well as the Google Play Store, albeit in a somewhat round-about way.

The report claims that Huawei’s engineers have already started redesigning the circuits of some of the brand’s phones (which currently run on home-brewed HiSilicon chips) in order to ready them for potential Qualcomm and MediaTek alternatives.

This move could be seen as an act of desperation from Huawei, with sales for its consumer business shrinking over the past four consecutive quarters. The company has already sold off its lucrative Honor sub-brand, which is now free of those US sanctions, resulting in the recent launch of the distinctly Huawei-like Honor 50 line.

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