If you've been eyeing the Huawei Mate 30 Pro as a potential phone replacement, you might want to reconsider. Google has confirmed that the model will be banned from using Google-licensed apps and services. At the very least, this means no Play Store access, no Google applications and no Android 10.
In other words, when it comes to non-Chinese markets like Australia, the Huawei Mate 30 will almost certainly be dead on arrival. (And it had such a pretty camera too. Sigh.)
As reported by Reuters, Google will not allow Huawei's Mate 30 range to access any Google apps or services. The decision stems from an executive order signed by President Trump in May that effectively banned US telecommunications firms from using Huawei equipment.
It's all part of America's ongoing trade war with China. Or maybe it's about security concerns. The particulars of Trump's beef haven't been terribly consistent.
In July, Trump temporarily lifted the ban on Huawei's consumer electronics but it appears Google isn't willing to take a gamble while the fate of Huawei-branded phones remains so murky. (There's also the issue of the temporary license only covering existing products. Presumably, Google would need to seek and receive special permission to do business with this particular smartphone model.)
At the time of the initial ban, Huawei fought fire with fire, drafting in chief legal officer Dr. Song Liuping to accuse Trump of deliberately trying to put the company out of business.
"The fact is, the US government has provided no evidence to show that Huawei is a security threat," Liuping said. "There is no gun, no smoke. Only speculation...This is trial by legislature, and it is prohibited by the US Constitution."
Despite this colossal setback and the souring relations that followed, Huawei is still forging ahead with plans to launch the phone globally. No, really.
The launch is supposed to happen in less than a month but what form will the phone take?
Here's what a Huawei spokesman told Reuters (emphasis ours.)
Huawei will continue to use the Android OS and ecosystem if the U.S. government allows us to do so. Otherwise, we will continue to develop our own operating system and ecosystem.
This is of course a reference to Harmony; Hurawei's recently announced mobile operating system.
Huawei’s meteoric rise in the telecoms business was brought to a dramatic halt in April when the US government put a ban on US companies doing business with the Chinese firm. This includes Google and, crucially for Huawei’s smartphone users, access to the Android operating system updates.
Huawei is billing Harmony as a faster and more secure alternative to Android that can work on almost any screen type. However, it's almost certainly going to suffer from a huge app shortage, especially when it comes to popular western software like Instagram, Paypal, Uber and Facebook.
In addition to the app problem, there are other issues Huawei needs to overcome - from SD card and Wi-Fi specification hurdles to the wider ramifications for Huawei's non-mobile business to the fact everyone owns a bloody Android. If even Microsoft can't make a third smartphone OS happen we don't hold out much hope for Huawei.
Which is a crying shame, because the phone looks fantastic. If the leaks and rumours are true, the Mate 30 Pro will come packing a Kirin 990 processor, a gargantuan rear quad camera, support for 5G networks and the latest official version of Android. No, wait. Scratch that last one.
If all goes according to plan for Huawei (which it most assuredly isn't), the new phone will be unveiled to the world on September 18. Will it come with Harmony? An open source knockoff of Android? Or will Google manage to secure an exemption at the 11th hour?
It's going to be a very interesting launch to say the least.
Last week, things started turning south for Huawei when Google announced that access to Android and the Play Store would be curtailed as a result of a trade ban imposed as part of a trade war between the United States of America and China. Google has been joined by a number of other tech companies. But while Google was a high profile loss, others are likely to be of far greater significance.