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After phones, the US now wants to hurt HUAWEI's laptop business

Does this mean no more Intel chips for HUAWEI?

Published onMay 8, 2024

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2024 back cover
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • Intel and Qualcomm’s export licenses to HUAWEI have reportedly been revoked by the US government.
  • This could seriously affect the company’s PC business, with the firm offering laptops since 2016.

The US trade ban against HUAWEI has hurt the Chinese manufacturer in several ways, but it’s the company’s smartphone division that’s suffered the most. However, it looks like the US government is now taking aim at HUAWEI’s PC business.

Reuters reports that the US has revoked Intel and Qualcomm’s export licenses to sell to HUAWEI, citing three sources familiar with the issue. A fourth source told the newswire that the license revocation was effective immediately. The Department of Commerce reportedly confirmed that it revoked several export licenses to HUAWEI but didn’t reveal more details.

The move comes just a day after HUAWEI launched new MateBook laptops globally, namely the MateBook 14 and the lightweight MateBook X Pro. Both devices are powered by Intel’s Core Ultra chips. The MateBook X Pro drew a response from several US lawmakers after its Chinese launch last month, owing to the aforementioned use of a Core Ultra chip and accompanying AI capabilities.

What does this mean for HUAWEI laptops?

It’s unclear whether the manufacturer is barred from using all Intel chips in its laptops or if it only applies to specific products (e.g. processors with built-in AI silicon). But even a ban that only applied to Intel’s AI-enabled chips would put HUAWEI on the back foot compared to rivals. This would also be a blow either way, as the PC segment was one of a few categories the company turned to in the wake of US sanctions.

It’s also unclear whether HUAWEI will be barred from using all Qualcomm chips in its phones. The company previously used 4G-only Snapdragon chips in its flagship phones but has since transitioned to in-house Kirin 5G processors. Qualcomm did, however, note in a recent earnings call that it doesn’t expect any revenue from HUAWEI products in 2025 as the Chinese manufacturer switches to a 5G-only portfolio.

In any event, losing Qualcomm chips wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal for HUAWEI phones as the company has its own in-house silicon. But we do wonder whether the firm is well-equipped to deal with potentially losing major PC chip vendors like Intel.

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