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Qualcomm says chip shortage affecting phones, but here's when it could end

It looks like smartphone makers will have to endure chip shortages for a significant period of time.

Published onMarch 8, 2021

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip by phone
  • Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon confirmed that an industry-wide chip shortage is affecting phones too.
  • He added that the shortage is expected to last until late 2021.

The tech industry has been hit by a semiconductor shortage in recent months, as a spike in demand for various products has resulted in a shortfall of ever-important silicon. Now, Qualcomm has confirmed that smartphones are also affected by the situation.

Qualcomm president and incoming CEO Cristiano Amon told CNET that the semiconductor shortage is “impacting everything, and of course (is) impacting phones.” He added that the shortage could continue until late 2021.

According to the executive, a drop in demand during the pandemic followed by a major spike in demand shortly thereafter was a key reason for the shortfall. 

Amon also suggested that Qualcomm is under more pressure from smartphone makers as Huawei’s US-induced decline is presenting an opportunity for rivals. Unfortunately, the supply chain wasn’t ready for this increased component demand as a result, he explained.

There’s no word on which smartphone segment is suffering the most as a result of the semiconductor shortage, but it stands to reason that phones using cutting-edge 5nm processors such as the Snapdragon 888 are likely to be affected. We’ve asked Qualcomm for comment and the firm directed us to Amon’s comments during an earnings call, noting that the shortage was “not unique to handset.”

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