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Snapdragon snapped up? Phone supplies could soon rival console scarcity

Flagship smartphones could be as hard to come by as the PS5 and Xbox Series X in 2021, amid reports Qualcomm is struggling to make enough Snapdragon 888 processors.

A new report from Reuters says there’s a production shortage of the chip powering some variants of the Samsung Galaxy 21, Xiaomi Mi 11, ASUS ROG Phone 5, as well as forthcoming handsets like the OnePlus 9 series.

The supply chain sources cited in the report say Samsung in particular is dealing with a shortage of the Snapdragon 888, which will power this year’s Note series too. The issue may be somewhat due to the new 5-mn manufacturing process, which is a little more tricky to scale up to mass production.

One of the sources at the Samsung supplier singled out the Snapdragon 888 shortage powering the best phones, while another said the production of mid-low range components were being mostly affected.

This is not the first time we’ve heard about potential shortages at the US chipmaker, which along with compatriots like Nvidia, is struggling to keep up with the demand for products, amid a dearth of components.

Last month a Xiaomi executive pointed out the severity of the situation, claiming: “It’s not a shortage, it’s an extreme shortage.” During its recent annual meaning Qualcomm itself said “we still have our demand basically higher than supply,” but still hopes to meet its quarterly sales targets.

In February, new US president Joe Biden signed an executive order to ensure the nation reviews the supply chain of semi-conductors, batteries and other industries necessary to get America back on track after the pandemic.

He said: “This is about making sure the United States can meet every challenge we faced in this new era of pandemics, but also in defense cybersecurity, climate change, and so much more. The best way to do that is by protecting and and sharpen and America’s competitive edge by investing here at home.”

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