There are very few smartphone makers with in-house chips such as Samsung, Apple, and Huawei. China-based Xiaomi also jumped into this with Surge S1 but the project didn’t see the success the company expected. However, it seems that Xiaomi is now ready to try this once again.
As per the report from Digitimes, Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi and OPPO are partnering with UNISOC and these three companies will focus on producing sub-6GHz 5G modems for the smartphones. It’s noteworthy that they will still rely on fabs as TSMC and Samsung for manufacturing.
But TSMC and Samsung are already booked for manufacturing and thus this trio will have to look at other fabs for their needs. Here, China’s homegrown SMIC could come to the rescue which already has 7nm node up and running.
If the report is to be believed, then the chip should be ready by late 2021 or early 2022 but it will be interesting to see how manufacturing goes given that SMIC is also on the United States’ Entity List, restricting the company’s manufacturing capabilities.
For making 5G modems, UNISOC has secured around $817 million which the company is also planning to use for expanding its hardware business. On its own, it couldn’t compete with the likes of Qualcomm, MediaTek, HiSilicon but with the partnership of Xiaomi and OPPO, the company has a chance to grab the market share. Also, HiSilicon is out of the picture for some time as the US has imposed several restrictions on Huawei, stopping the manufacturing of high-end HiSilicon chips.