The Battle for Tech Supremacy: Huawei Outsmarts Apple in China

The new Huawei Mate 60 took first place in sales even though the company suffered major US sanctions

by Sededin Dedovic
The Battle for Tech Supremacy: Huawei Outsmarts Apple in China
© DrTech / Youtube channel

US sanctions have undoubtedly crippled Huawei for a while, but new data reveals a phoenix rising from the ashes. The Chinese tech giant saw a staggering 64 percent market share growth in its home country in the first six weeks of 2024, outpacing iPhone sales in the region.

This is very important news for both companies because of the unexpected results. It is certain that the developers from Huawei are also surprised by this data. However, the main reason for this Huawei success can be attributed to the continued demand for the new Mate 60 series.

The launch of the flagship phone marks Huawei's first major release since the seemingly damaging Western technology and trade sanctions, led by the United States. It was felt that Huawei was suffering the consequences after the sanctions, and it was believed that this would forever drive the Chinese phone out of the American and European markets.

But the Huawei Mate 60 made sure to spoil the plans of those who initiated the sanctions. Mate 60 took first place in sales even though the company suffered major US sanctions

Apple's fall, Huawei's rise

In contrast, Huawei's main US competitor, Apple, has witnessed a dramatic 24% drop in market share this year.

The change allowed Huawei, with a current 17% share, to dethrone Apple's 16% share, according to the latest Counterpoint report. In early 2024, Huawei is comfortably positioned as the second largest smartphone brand in China, behind Vivo in first place.

The third place is a surprising connection between the American giant Apple and Honor, a former subsidiary of Huawei that was created as a separate company. From near death to dominance on the domestic market, it must be admitted that no one expected such a turn of events.

HUAWEI MATE 60 PRO© Izami Gadget / Youtube channel

These statistics are particularly impressive given Huawei's near-death experience with sanctions. At one point, the company was visibly crippled, especially during 2021.

The sanctions have forced Huawei to focus primarily on distribution within China, leading to a significant loss of global market share. This was a direct consequence of US restrictions on chip shipments and manufacturing equipment.

Of course, US sanctions have done what they were enacted for.

A native ecosystem is emerging

However, just a few years later, we are witnessing Huawei's return to the top, even with increased sanctions still in place. The company relaunched its domestic ecosystem with the launch of the Mate 60 series, which includes the Huawei Mate 60 Pro - the brand's first flagship phone since the sanctions were imposed.

Details surrounding the phone itself remain somewhat shrouded in mystery, as it is currently only available in China, and the company has not released full specifications. What we do know is that the Mate 60 Pro uses a Kirin 9000s chip developed by Huawei - the first since the sanctions began.

This launch caused quite a stir in the US, raising questions and causing surprise. The Chinese seem to think of everything and you have to always be one step ahead of them in order to compete. The original Kirin 9000 debuted in November 2020 with the Mate 40 Pro, just before the sanctions began to take hold.

Four years later, the new chip kept the name Kirin 9000, but with the addition of an "S". A significant change lies in its production. While the original was manufactured by TSMC, the new version relies on the domestic SMIC factory, another company operating under US sanctions.

Interestingly, both use the advanced 7nm process. However, 7nm technology pales in comparison to the 3nm chips that TSMC currently mass-produces for various companies, including Apple. Still, the chip apparently performs well enough to power phones that have outsold the iPhone in China.

The original Western plan was to limit China to outdated 14nm chips. However, as shown last year, this strategy proved to be ineffective. Today, not only Huawei is pushing the boundaries, but the entire Chinese semiconductor industry, with the support of the government, is actively working to upgrade chip production to even more sophisticated processes such as 5nm.

This goal represents a significant challenge. China currently lacks access to state-of-the-art production equipment, such as extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines. However, with enough effort and financial investment, the 5nm process could be achieved using slightly older deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines for chip production.

Huawei's recent success story demonstrates China's growing technological independence and determination to become a major player in the global semiconductor industry. While US sanctions have undoubtedly hampered Huawei's progress, the company's resilience and focus on domestic manufacturing have fueled its impressive comeback.

The race for chip dominance continues and it will be fascinating to see how this technological rivalry develops in the years to come. This is a real war between two superpowers, but luckily without firearms and victims.

Huawei Apple China