Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the US government has no evidence that Huawei can produce smartphones with advanced chips “at scale” because it continue to investigate how the sanctioned Chinese manufacturer made an apparent breakthrough with its latest flagship device.
On Tuesday, Raimondo told US lawmakers that she was “upset” by news of Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro launch while in office. visit to China last month.
“The only good news, if there is any, is that we have no proof that they can make 7-nanometer chips at scale,” she told a hearing in the US House of Representatives.
“While I can’t speak specifically to investigations, I promise you this: Whenever we find credible evidence that a company has circumvented our export controls, we will investigate. »
Analysts who reviewed the smartphone said it represented a “marking” achievement for China, suggesting that Huawei may have found a way to circumvent US export controls.
U.S. officials have long argued that the company poses a risk to U.S. national security, and have used that as a reason to restrict trade with the company. Huawei has categorically denied these allegations.
TechInsights, a semiconductor research organization that took apart the phone for analysis, says it includes a 5G Kirin 9000s processor developed by China’s leading chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC).
This surprised many, as SMIC, a partially state-owned Chinese company, was also subject to US export restrictions for years. He did not respond to CNN’s previous requests for comment.
Technical informations also found two chips belonging to SK Hynix, a South Korean chipmaker, inside the handset.
An SK Hynix spokesperson told CNN earlier this month that it was aware of the issue and was investigating how this was possible, since the South Korean company “no longer does business with Huawei” due to US export controls.
Huawei declined to comment on its phone’s capabilities and components.
Raimondo said Tuesday that U.S. officials were “trying to use every tool at our disposal … to deny the Chinese the opportunity to obtain intellectual property to advance their technology in a way that could harm us.”
In 2019, Huawei was added to the US “entity list” which restricts exports to certain organizations without a license from the US government. The following year, the U.S. government expanded those restrictions as it sought to cut Huawei off from chip suppliers that use U.S. technology.
This left the company, once the world leader second biggest smartphone seller, in poor condition.
But its new phone is a big help to the company – and could pose a challenge for Apple (AAPL) market share in China, according to Ivan Lam, senior analyst at Counterpoint.
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
A Huawei store in Beijing.
Huawei is expected to hold a product launch event next Monday, where the new phones are expected to be the center of attention, according to Toby Zhu, mobility analyst at Canalys.
Other devices, like tablets or headphones, may also be featured. Huawei has not made details of the event public.
In the coming months, the company plans to launch another 5G phone, possibly under Nova, its mid-range line, according to a Chinese media report. Computer times reported Tuesday, citing unidentified industry sources. Huawei declined to comment.
Zhu said the phone is expected to feature 5G capability, powered either by the “Kirin 9000s chip or another chip.”
If so, the new model could become even more popular than the Mate 60 Pro, which starts at 6,999 yuan (about $959), due to its relatively affordable price, he added.
Although Raimondo was unhappy with the timing of Huawei’s launch, analysts say it was unlikely to have been timed to coincide with its presence in China.
It was likely “A marketing campaign aimed at generating customer interest before the iPhone 15 hits the market,” Eurasia Group analysts wrote in a report.
The move helped the Shenzhen-based company capture second place in China’s smartphone market in the first week of September, ahead of Apple’s big event, Counterpoint’s Lam said.
— Rashard Rose and Mengchen Zhang contributed to this report.