When Huawei had its people on a stage in Beijing announcing new hardware yesterday, they also announced some company milestones, such as the Snapdragon-toting Honor 5X passing 8 million sales. This figure did not contribute at all, however, to another major figure that loomed over that one tenfold; shipments of Huawei’s Kirin family of chips. Having developed the Kirin silicon in-house under their HiSilicon subsidiary since 2009, Huawei has seen the chip transform into a super high-end offering over time, with the latest iteration, the Kirin 955, finding its way into the Huawei P9 flagship handset. With such a wide variety of handsets over such a long time sporting one of the many Kirin chipsets, it should surprise absolutely nobody that the chip has made it past the 80 Million mark.
Huawei’s Kirin lineup has seen a number of major revisions and feature additions over the years, helping it compete in features, power and production price with the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek. While a Kirin chip has not found its way into any devices outside of Huawei’s stable since 2009, it doesn’t really need to. Like Samsung’s Exynos processors, the Kirin lineup’s purpose is to allow Huawei a larger degree of control over the manufacturing and software of their devices, which means some truly wonderful optimization can take place. The latest Kirin sports speeds and power usage on par with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820, and outright smokes Mediatek’s Helio X20, all while being on the low end of the price spectrum, allowing Huawei to sell their devices for fairly cheap.
While a large number of Huawei’s phones over the years have wandered away from the Kirin camp, these have largely been budget phones, side orders or phones made on contract, like the Huawei Nexus 6P. Huawei’s Kirin chips powered many of the phones that crossed borders and helped the stellar Nexus 6P to clear Huawei’s name in territories like the U.S. after years of subpar feature phones and entry-level Android devices, and even a national security scare, such as the Mate 8. The Kirin chips are still going strong and will most likely continue to power Huawei’s latest and greatest as they continue their struggle to catch up to Samsung and Apple in a bid to get out of the number 3 spot for worldwide phone makers.