Huawei being caught in the middle of a trade war between the United States and China has effectively left one of the biggest smartphone vendors in the world without a software partner in Google and global chip suppliers.
But according to financial publication Nikkei Asia, the ban now excludes two of the world’s leading manufacturers of camera sensors for smartphones. The report says Sony and Omnivision, which is Chinese-owned but headquartered in California, have been granted licenses by the U.S. to resume their businesses with Huawei.
Sony, which also supplies camera sensors to Apple, is the exclusive provider of CMOS image sensors used by flagship Huawei phones, including the P and Mate series. Following the U.S. crackdown on Chinese technology companies, the Japanese manufacturer cut its annual profit guidance for its image-sensor business by 38%.
Other reports say that since September 15, certain companies have received U.S. licenses to sell non-5G products to Huawei, as they are not considered security threats. The list of hardware partners currently doing business with Huawei includes Samsung Display, the South Korean company’s panel division, although it isn’t clear if the permits cover both LCD and OLED screens.
Intel and AMD earlier confirmed they have resumed undisclosed shipments to Huawei. It’s likely the AMD products include the latest Ryzen 5 4600H processor, which powers the MateBook 14 laptop that Huawei launched in the Philippines this month.
There is still a long way to go, especially since Huawei is still blocked from purchasing smartphone chipsets from Qualcomm and MediaTek. However, the latest chapter in Huawei’s struggles with U.S. regulators shows there is hope, so the company may want to reconsider selling its Honor business to focus its efforts on the high-end market.
In a recent article, executives at two Asian semiconductor companies (one of them could be TSMC) told another publication, the Financial Times, they were optimistic that permits to sell mobile chips to Huawei would be approved. In the same story, it is mentioned that Qualcomm and MediaTek “could receive licenses later this year to resume sales of certain chips needed for smartphones.”
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