Silicon Shortage Reportedly Hits Android Phones as Qualcomm Suffers Supply Issues

Silicon Shortage Reportedly Hits Android Phones as Qualcomm Suffers Supply Issues
Photo: Sam Rutherford

Earlier this year, multiple sectors called out for help as chip shortages wreaked havoc across the auto industry, the gaming market, and more, and now it seems those issues are starting to affect Android phones too as the supply for Qualcomm chips begins to dwindle.

Based on the testimony of two sources who spoke to Reuters, Samsung Electronics Co (which is Qualcomm’s fabrication partner in charge of producing various Snapdragon chips) is facing shortages of both low and mid-range processors as well as Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 chip.

For now, it’s unclear if these chip shortages are having an impact on the availability of retail devices. However, if things continue there will almost certainly be an impact on future sales, with an anonymous exec at a contract manufacturer telling Reuters that shortages of multiple Qualcomm components have forced the company to reduce the number of total phone shipments for 2021.

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News of tight supply for Qualcomm parts follows previous warnings from Xiaomi VP Lu Weibing who remarked on Weibo that supply issues weren’t just a shortage, but “an extreme shortage.”  

Currently, one of the major roadblocks in Qualcomm’s supply chain seems to be Samsung’s 5nm fabrication process, which is still relatively new and more difficult to optimise for mass production compared to previous generations of chips.

Even last month’s deep freeze in Texas is playing a part in chip shortages, with Reuters saying that one of Samsung’s plants located in Texas that’s responsible for making RF modules was forced to go offline for some time due to power outages.

But the big picture is that with chip shortages affecting everything from cars to video game consoles and now Android phones, the availability of electronics could get a whole lot worse before things start to recover towards the latter half of the year.