It looks like the massive global semiconductor shortage is finally going to hit the smartphone industry in full force, and the most prominent name that is going to feel the heat is Qualcomm. As per a Reuters report, Qualcomm is having a hard time fulfilling the demand for its mobile processors, especially the flagship Snapdragon 888 SoC that powers some high-profile phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 series.
However, Qualcomm’s problems are also intertwined with Samsung, as the Korean electronics giant’s chipmaking division is responsible for supplying some critical parts to Qualcomm. Plus, the 5nm fabrication process on which the Snapdragon 888 is based comes with scalability limitations of its own. Additionally, Samsung’s factory in Texas that makes components such as radio frequency transceivers for Qualcomm was recently hit by an outage due to snowstorms in the region.
The HUAWEI factor
Another reason why the demand for Qualcomm’s chips has suddenly gone through the roof is the misfortunes of HUAWEI. As more people are moving away from HUAWEI smartphones – since they no longer offer access to essential Google services such as Gmail, Maps, and Play Stores – the demand for Android phones powered by Qualcomm chips has gone up. And that is because HUAWEI equipped a lot of its phones, especially the flagships, with its own HiSilicon Kirin family of processors.
And now that those phones are no longer an attractive option for many buyers, the demand for phones driven by Qualcomm (and MediaTek) chips has suddenly experienced a surge. In the high-end segment, this has directly put a strain on the supply of Snapdragon 888 SoC that powers flagships from Samsung and other Chinese brands such as OPPO and Xiaomi, all of which are trying to fill the void left by HUAWEI.