What does Huawei's trade ban mean for your Huawei or Ho
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(Pocket Ribbon) – Due to a trade ban with the US, Huawei cannot preload new release phones with Google apps such as Maps and YouTube, the Google Play Store or Google Assistant.
Pre-May 2019, Huawei and Honor phones will continue to receive security updates, and current devices that will get Android 10 will still get them. Huawei laptops get all Windows updates in the traditional way.
But newly released Huawei phones cannot use Google services and this is going to be a problem in the long run. Note that this does not apply to P30 series handsets, including the P30 Pro New Edition (May 2020), which is essentially an upgraded P30 Pro rather than a new phone.
These Huawei phones do not have Google services
The Huawei P40 and P40 Pro, Mate 30 series, Mate Xs and Honor 30 series do not have Google apps. They rely on Huawei apps and the App Gallery download store, which doesn't have a ton of apps at the moment. And in particular things like internet banking apps and specific services are currently not provided, although Huawei is making huge efforts to improve this.
These new Huawei and Honor phones come with Android 10 (with Huawei's EMUI 10 UI at the top). But you can only install Google apps through a relatively complicated and unreliable process and neither Huawei nor Google officially recommend it.
The story so far
In May 2019, it was announced by the US government that Google and US companies need to change the way they interact with Huawei. The Chinese giant was blacklisted by the US during the latest skirmish of the ongoing trade war.
Google has been particularly vocal that preventing Huawei from using its version of Android could potentially lead to national security concerns for people using a replacement operating system developed by Huawei – now known as HarmonyOS. In reality, this is likely because non-Android phones are said to be making the Google profit.
On June 29, 2019, President Trump said he had agreed to allow US technology companies such as Google and Qualcomm to resell to Huawei after the restart of trade talks between the US and China. The caveat is that it is only for goods not related to national security. Trump made the comments during a press conference at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. The move appeared to be in response to US companies feeling the effect of the ban.
On August 1, 2019, Trump seemed to contradict his earlier statement (for a change), "we will not allow Huawei in our country, we have not changed that". This would have shown a stronger stance had he not clarified it right away with "we can do business with Huawei, we can do that". On September 5, Trump reiterated that "Huawei is a major concern of our military, our intelligence services, and we do not do business with Huawei."
Around this time, Huawei and Honor devices were added back to the Android Enterprise Recommended website. That's important, as Google actively recommends them to companies for long-term use.
Huawei has filed a lawsuit against the US telecom regulator (the FCC) for banning US airlines from purchasing Huawei equipment with subsidies paid by the FCC to carriers to ensure access to telecom services remains available anywhere in the US.
In January 2020, the Trump administration signed a trade deal with China thawing the trade war, but there was no provision for Huawei in the deal. A second deal is thought to be on the table, but there is no consensus on whether this will help or hinder Huawei.
The US Department of Commerce has ditched plans to introduce rules to make it more difficult for US companies to deal with Huawei – presumably because of the damage to US companies. As we said, Google is not a fan of the trade ban. However, it does show that different parts of the US government cannot agree on a joint plan to deal with the company.
In late 2019, the Department of Commerce said it had received about 300 license requests to continue dealing with Huawei and approved a quarter of them.
On May 14, 2020, it was announced that the Trump administration has extended the original trade ban for another year until May 2021, preventing US companies from buying or using telecommunication equipment made by companies considered a national security risk.
How does Huawei feel about the situation?
At the launch of Mate 30 in September 2019, Huawei CEO Richard Yu told Pocket Ribbon that Huawei could send Google apps to affected devices overnight if the ban was lifted, but said he thought that the phone will still sell well in many areas, especially China of course (we've been led to believe this is the case).
He also opened up about the ban. "It's not good for American companies, it's not good (for us) … in the past we have been a great contributor to American companies. And now it's not allowed to … it's harmful to the business of American companies.
“We are very open and transparent. We are a globalized company. In the trade war between the US and China we have become a bargaining chip.
"We didn't want to do this … we were forced to do this. We have a good partnership with Google, but the US government forced us to do this. I hope you (journalists) can understand this."
On May 18, 2020, Huawei released a strongly worded statement in which it passed at least the latest proposed measures to stop using US technologies, including in the manufacturing of chips in its other products.
"In its relentless pursuit to tighten its stranglehold on our company, the US government has decided to go ahead and completely ignore the concerns of many companies and industry associations," the statement said.
"This new rule will impact the expansion, maintenance and continued operation of the hundreds of billions of dollars of networks that we have deployed in more than 170 countries."
"The US is leveraging its own technological strengths to crush companies beyond its borders. This will only undermine the confidence international companies place in US technology and supply chains. Ultimately, this will hurt US interests."
How does this compare to the Huawei 5G issue in the UK?
Australia and Japan have blocked Huawei from involvement in 5G networks, but the UK government saw no reason to do the same in January 2020 and limited its involvement in an individual cellular network to less than 35 percent of the non-core network (by the end 2022).
But the sand shifted – on May 15, 2020, the US Department of Commerce outlined further restrictive measures against Huawei to prevent it from making chips using US technologies using US-based IP or even equipment. The new rules mean that Huawei needs a license to use any US technology. Huawei had tried to enclose some of its design processes in the US to get around the original ban, which the US clearly disliked.
This ruling has had a tremendous effect as it forced the UK government to reverse its previous decision on Huawei 5G network equipment. The UK has now said that telcos will not be able to use Huawei 5G network equipment after 2027 and should stop buying new equipment by the end of 2020.
The US telecom regulator – the FCC – also recently labeled Huawei and ZTE as threats to national security, but, as with the trade ban, has not disclosed any evidence of this.
The UK may have been cornered. The UK needs a US trade deal in the post-Brexit world, and there could be further restrictions on Huawei getting that deal on the line.
What does the trade ban mean for existing Huawei devices?
Existing Huawei devices prior to May 2019, such as the P30 series (including the P30 Pro New Edition), P20 series and Mate 20 series, will not be affected in their current form. No apps will disappear and they can continue to use Google apps and receive security updates. Since Honor is a subsidiary of Huawei, the same implications would also apply to its phones.
Google is clear on this point: "For users of our services, Google Play and Google Play Protect's security measures will continue to function on existing Huawei devices."
For questions from Huawei users about our steps to comply with recent US government measures, we assure you that while complying with all US government requirements, services such as Google Play and Google Play Protect security will continue to work on your existing Huawei device.
– Android (@Android) May 20, 2019
Huawei, for its part, says it will "continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphones and tablets related to products that have been sold or are still in stock worldwide".
What wasn't clear for a while was whether Huawei and Honor handsets would receive feature updates. But we now know that the following devices will get the upgrade to Android 10 in 2020 and that they will also get EMUI 10, Huawei's user interface, on top. So, the owners of these phones don't have to worry about this situation at all.
P30 Pro Huawei P30 Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20 Pro Mate 20 RS P30 lite P smart 2019 P smart + 2019 P smart Z Mate 20 X Mate 20 X 5G P20 Pro P20 Mate 10 Pro Porsche Design Mate 10 Mate 10 Mate 20 Lite Honor 8X Honor 10 Honor 20 Honor 20i / 20 Lite Honor 20 Pro
May 30th update: Additional links and context added about the current situation.
June 11 update: Added new developments from Google and UK operators.
June 20 update: Added information about devices getting the Android Q update
July 1 update: Added information on Trump's G20 statement and Huawei's new statement
August 9 update: major overhaul after HarmonyOS announcement
Update August 12: Android Enterprise information added
August 30th update: added the latest info from Reuters
Update September 9: Added Mate 30 information from IFA 2019
Update September 18: Added latest Mate 30 information
September 20 update: Added Mate 30 launch information and quotes from Richard Yu
Nov 11 update: Added latest situation on US-China trade talks
December 6th update: latest information added
January 20 update 2020: Latest information added, including developments in the field of trade agreements
Update March 13: refined information
April 28th update: latest information added
May 14th update: Updated with the latest Trump ban
Written by Dan Grabham.