The Chinese tech giant has been accused by President Trump’s administration of stealing trade secrets, fraud and violating US sanctions against Iran, claims which have led the US president to ban Huawei’s equipment from US networks in an effort to protect national security.
In the latest development amidst the fallout from the US-China trade battle, Huawei is preparing to file a lawsuit against the US government to “halt illegal action” against it, calling the restrictions on their equipment an attempt to put it out of business.
The US’s concerns have been echoed by other tech heavyweights, including Google, who announced it is going to block Huawei from using Android apps on its devices.
Networks in the UK are beginning to follow suit, with EE deciding to omit Huawei’s Mate 20 X 5G handset from its 5G line-up, while Vodafone recently cancelled an event based around its own 5G rollout.
Ben Wood, mobile industry analyst at CSS Insights, called the news “alarming” on Twitter. “Being unable to get support from Google for Android updates and apps would be highly problematic for Huawei’s consumer devices business,” he wrote.
Here’s what the Huawei ban could mean for you and the future of smartphones:
At the moment, Huawei phones run on Google’s Android mobile operating system (OS), the base code which the phones run on. Huawei then adds what is called a “skin” on top of the standard Android user interface, essentially adding its own spin on Android.
Right now, this ban shouldn’t mean anything. Google has said the Google Play Store, the Android app store through which Android device owners get their links to the outside world, and the security features which come with Android, will continue to be available on existing Huawei devices.
That means anything from the recent Huawei P30 range release, the upcoming Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, and previous devices are all fine.
However, it looks like anything the company releases in the future, such as the upcoming Mate 30 range, which is slated for an October release, could lose access to crucial Android services, including Google Play, Maps and the Gmail app.
- Huawei phones not affected by the Google ban
Huawei P30: P30 Pro, P30, P30 Lite
- Huawei P Smart
- Huawei Mate 20: Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20, Mate 20 Lite, Mate 20 X
- Huawei P20: P20 Pro, P20, P20 Lite
- Huawei Mate 10: Mate 10 Pro, Mate 10, Mate 10 Lite
- Huawei P10: P10 Plus, P10, P10 Lite
The US government had previously temporarily eased some of the restrictions on Huawei which means for the next three months, the company is allowed to purchase US-made goods and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets.
Google hasn’t published an update to its statement from yesterday, so it seems like your current Huawei device is safe for now. What happens to the company’s next releases remains to be seen.
Does this mean Huawei phones won’t be Android phones?
Not exactly. Any company that designs and builds a phone can use Android’s mobile operating system because of its open source nature.
However, this move means Google is no longer going to provide technical support and collaboration for Android and Google services to Huawei.
As well, Android updates only come to the open-source version a lot later than the licensed one. This is particularly concerning when it comes to security updates. For instance, in the case of the WhatsApp spyware issues last week, phone owners were encouraged to update their device’s software to ensure they were safe from an attack of this nature.
Not being able to access the most recent Android security updates could have implications for Huawei phone owners.
In a statement, Huawei said: “Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.”
For Huawei users’ questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US gov’t requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device.
— Android (@Android) May 20, 2019