MANILA, Philippines – There's a lot of extra drama surrounding this year's Huawei Mate phones as they'llbe the first actual flagships from the beleaguered Chinese brand to not carry a licensed version of Android.
Huawei has been under fire this year – more than most years – from the US government under suspicions of espionage, and facing indictments on technology theft and Iran trade sanctions violations. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in December 2018 in Canada, where she and her team are currently battling extradition requests from the US. From a consumer perspective, the biggest hit came in May 2019 when the company was put in a trade entity list that prevents US companies from supplying Huawei – Google and its Android operating system included.
It is understood now that Huawei will most likely be launching the license-free, open-source version of Android with the new Mate phones. The open-source version lacks the newest security updates that the licensed version carries, and gets new features later. It will also not have the license for Google Mobile Services, the suite of apps that Android phone users everyday from mail to navigation and cloud services.
Huawei has been given two 90-day reprieves from the trade ban, with the latter expiring in November. However, the reprieves only apply to existing phones, meaning they still get the usual Android updates. The Mate 30 phones, being new, are not covered by the temporary lift.
Huawei has also developed its own Harmony operating system, but they've been clear that they'd prefer sticking to Android for the foreseeable future, and that Harmony is designed more for internet-of-things devices.