Huawei pushes ahead with Mate20 X 5G phone despite security concerns

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(Huawei)Huawei has unveiled its 5G-ready Mate 20X smartphone, despite continued concerns over whether the Chinese firm’s communications equipment present a security risk.

Huawei also used its launch event to confirm its first foldable smartphone, the Mate X, will be released in the UK in the third quarter of this year – sometime between July and September.

Samsung and fellow Chinese phone maker OnePlus have also confirmed the upcoming release of 5G devices this week.

A number of senior figures from around the world, led by US officials, have warned that Huawei’s telecoms infrastructure could be used by the Chinese state to spy on or sabotage foreign networks.

A former head of MI6 also warned on Thursday that allowing the Chinese tech giant to have a role in building the UK’s 5G network posed an unnecessary risk to national security.

Despite the ongoing debate, the company said it would release the Mate 20 X 5G device in the UK in June, costing £1,000. The company refused to discuss the security concerns at the launch in London.

However, speaking on a panel on 5G technology at the event, industry analyst Ben Wood from CCS Insight suggested the US decision may not completely hinder the company.

“As far as I am concerned, not much has changed between last night (when the executive order was signed) and this morning,” he said.

“Because until we get clarity on this it’s tough – we’re talking about phones. These guys (Huawei), in the first quarter of 2019 sold more phones than they’ve ever sold, while everyone else is going backwards. So, it can’t all be bad.”

Security specialist Brian Higgins from Comparitech.com added that the “very broad” US executive order was likely to face a number of legal challenges.

“The issue for the UK is that we sit within the supply chain of the United States in every sector,” he said.

A spokesman added: “We are an independent, employee-owned company which does not take instructions from the Chinese government.

“We hope and expect that any decision on Huawei’s participation in Britain’s build-out of 5G networks will be based on solid evidence, rather than on unfounded speculation and groundless accusations.”

The firm’s smartphones are not the focus of the current scrutiny, and Huawei has risen to become the second largest smartphone maker in the world, behind only Samsung.

 

 

Chris Price
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