The trade ban on Huawei by the United States finally took full effect in September, forcing Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony, LG, and other hardware suppliers to stop selling to Huawei. Qualcomm has been pushing for an exemption to sell chips to Huawei, and now the company has been granted a limited license to do just that.
The U.S. government has granted a license to sell parts to Qualcomm, but there's a catch — Qualcomm can only sell chipsets with 4G connectivity, not 5G. That severely limits which SoCs can be sold to Huawei, considering the newest Snapdragon 800, 700, and 600-series chips all include 5G modems. The license didn't mention which exact products could be sold, but the newest possible chip might be last year's Snapdragon 855, which only supported 5G through an optional X50 modem. That would place Huawei's phones two generations behind other flagships by the time 2021 rolls around, unless Qualcomm chooses to develop a customized version of the 865 or 875 just for Huawei.
Across the pond, Huawei is asking the United Kingdom to reconsider the country's ban on Huawei 5G equipment. The UK originally planned to allow Huawei's hardware to be used in its 5G networks, until pressure by the Trump administration led to a hard ban. In an interview with The Guardian, Huawei VP Victor Zhang said that with Joe Biden becoming the new president, the UK should overturn its ban. "The decision was a political one motivated by US perceptions of Huawei and not those of the UK," Zhang said. "This is not really motivated by security, but about a trade war between the US and China."