If you have a Huawei smartphone you’re not alone. The company shipped 59.1 million phones in the first quarter of 2019, outstripping Apple and closing in on Samsung the market leader. A considerable chunk of these shipments went to Europe where Huawei is becoming increasingly popular thanks to lower prices and tech innovations.
But given that Google recently severed its relationship with the Chinese manufacturer you must be left wondering what does it mean for your Huawei device?
- Because Google has been forced to comply with the US government’s ban on the supply of technologies to Huawei, it has stopped providing software and support as part of the blacklisting of the company and affiliates.
- For users the means that Huawei will lose access to Android software updates and that its phones sold outside of China will not have popular Google apps like the Play Store and Gmail.
This may seem like a death knell for Huawei smartphone users but for those of you who already own a Huawei handset there is good news:
- If you already have a Huawei smartphone, it will continue to operate as normal. Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.
- Google, Google Assistant and the various Google apps will continue to operate on existing Huawei smartphones.
- App updates are delivered by Google Play in Western Europe and Google will honour this for existing Huawei smartphones.
Given this you may wonder what the fuss is about. The issue is with new Huawei models. The company has been making a big push into Europe and has pitched some of its new models at around €400, which by smartphone standards is relatively low cost. They feature powerful cameras and good battery life and along with the low price, have become popular.
- Huawei can continue to use the underlying Android operating system because it is open source. Called the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), it can be used by anyone.
- However, Huawei have to supply its own updates from AOSP to the version of Android running on its phones, rather than Google updates. This is what the company does for its smartphones sold in China, which do not run Google’s various services.
Huawei smartphones without Google’s apps are just not going to be the same. A handset without Google services and apps, like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Play Store and YouTube will be an incredibly hard sell.
Google has something close to 150 apps and services running off Android and while the Android operation system is open source, therefore not owned as such by a single company, the company does have near dominance on Android.
It’s a shame because Huawei was set to introduce new models and competitively priced phones into Europe. If you don’t use Google apps and services the ban on Huawei isn’t a problem. But the problem is that nearly everybody does.