Huawei unveiled a raft of new 5G products at a media event in Beijing, including a modem which will power a foldable smartphone to be unveiled at MWC Barcelona.

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group (pictured), said the Balong 5000 is the world’s most powerful 5G modem. It has a peak download speed of 4.6Gb/s and supports the non-standalone and standalone 5G architectures along with the full-spectrum of TDD/FDD frequencies. The modem is now available.

He claimed the chip is ten-times faster than 4G and two-times faster than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50, adding “we’re about six months ahead of the competition”.

Huawei’s moves are evidence the company is spending big to develop its own chip technology, an area where American rivals are global leaders. Huawei clearly wants to reduce its multibillion-dollar annual bill for components and the risk of disruptions of US supplies (in light of high-profile developments in 2018 affecting ZTE).

The modem is used in its 5G CPE Pro, the first Wi-Fi hotspot supporting Wi-Fi 6 and a peak rate up to 4.8Gb/s, which the company also announced at the event.

Looking at the consumer group’s results for 2018, Yu said revenue topped $52 billion, making it the largest contributor to Huawei’s top-line. Despite slowing growth in China, he noted “we are not slowing down”, implying 2018 growth matched the 50 per cent rate recorded the previous year.

Smartphone shipments reached 206 million in 2018 (including units from Huawei’s sub-brand Honor) and Yu expects even bigger growth in 2019. The division posted 170 per cent growth outside of China. It shipped 17 million of its flagship P20 series units since its launch in March 2018 and 7.5 million Mate 20 models in three months.

The company also shipped 100 million non-smartphone devices including tablets, wearables and PCs.

As for smartphone competition, he believes the segment will continue to consolidate, predicting “most will disappear and there will be very few vendors”.

Compact base station
Ryan Ding, president of Huawei’s carrier business group, announced the Tiangang 5G chipset for its carrier products as well as its 5G base station, which is a quarter the size of its 4G model with 20-times the capacity.

At about 20kg it’s 23 per cent lighter, with 90 per cent lower power consumption, the company said.

The vendor signed 30 commercial 5G contracts with operators in Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe, Ding said. It shipped 25,000 5G base stations.