New Huawei Handset Selling Fast in China as Chip Speculation Swirls
Chinese consumers have been buying Huawei’s latest flagship smartphone faster than stores can keep up with online and in some parts of the country, sources tell Caixin, amid mounting speculation the telecom giant has been able to weather U.S. sanctions.
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. began shipping the new Mate 60 Pro Sunday, several people familiar with the matter told Caixin, five days after the phone’s discreet launch. A number of distributors told Caixin on Monday that the Mate 60 Pro had immediately sold out upon delivery.
“The stock we got on Sunday was gone immediately. It was only enough to fulfill around 20% of preorders,” one distributor in Chongqing told Caixin.
A number of Huawei’s authorized outlets were unable to even get their hands on a display model of the Mate 60 Pro, one employee at such a store said. They said the store received less than 20 of the new smartphones on Sunday, and there are still dozens of customers waiting for their new phones to arrive.
Huawei put the Mate 60 Pro up for sale at 6,999 yuan ($962) on Aug. 29, selling out on its official site that same night. The launch was without prior advertisement other than an open letter that cited the early debut as a celebration of its Mate series reaching 100 million units in cumulative shipments.
The device later landed in limited quantities on some of its self-operated stores on e-commerce platforms. As of Tuesday, customers can only preorder the Mate 60 Pro on Taobao with deliveries scheduled to be sent out around mid-September, while the phone was listed as sold out on JD.com.
The enthusiasm could partly be driven by pent-up demand from many of Huawei’s existing users, who have been waiting for almost three years for the company to release a new 5G-capable device, one mobile phone distributor told Caixin.
“As long as Huawei’s production can keep up, sales of the new phones could exceed several million,” the distributor in Chongqing said.
Huawei hasn’t been able to mass produce a 5G-capable phone for so long due to U.S. sanctions on the company that restricted its access to advanced chips.
Software tests and tear-down videos implying that the phone is using Huawei’s Kirin 9000s chip and that it possesses 5G wireless capabilities have fueled speculation that the tech giant has managed to find a way to weather U.S. sanctions, spurring optimism that the country could be one step closer to achieving self-reliance in the semiconductor industry.
When contacted by Caixin upon the phone’s release, Huawei said it had no information to provide about the chip used in the Mate 60 Pro.
Due to a lack of advanced chips following U.S. efforts to block its access, Huawei dropped out of the world’s top five smartphone brands rankings in the first quarter of 2021, a sharp contrast to the second quarter of 2020, when it was the world’s No. 1 smartphone vendor.
But Huawei’s situation in China improved in the second quarter of this year, when it was the only firm among the top smartphone sellers to record a double-digit shipment growth despite an overall downward trend in the domestic market, making it the country’s No. 6 smartphone brand with a market share of 13%, according to market research firm IDC.
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