Huawei to launch new 5G-capable handset in Europe without Google

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Huawei phones advertised in Naples, Italy, July 2019 (Image credit: TechNode/David Cohen)

Huawei is pushing forward with the launch of a new flagship smartphone in Europe even though Google apps and services may not be on offer, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing company executives.

Why it matters: The new 5G-capable Mate 30 is Huawei’s first flagship handset launch since the US government placed it on a trade blacklist in May. The new smartphone will not feature HarmonyOS, Huawei’s self-developed mobile operating system,  signaling that the world’s second-largest smartphone maker is not yet ready to break with Google.

  • Huawei can access the open-source version of Android without violating the US sanctions, but it barred from purchasing a license from Google to install popular apps such as YouTube and Google Maps on its phones.
  • It launched HarmonyOS earlier this month saying that while it is possible to install HarmonyOS on phones, the company has no plans to do so at present.
  • “No consumers in Europe would want a phone without Google services,” Tiago Alves, vice president of Asia Pacific at Aptoide, a Portugal-based Android app store, told TechNode in a June interview.

Details: Huawei is set to unveil the Mate 30 line for phones on September 18 in Munich, Germany, according Reuters citing a source familiar with the matter, though it is unclear when the devices will go on sale.

  • Google, for the first time, confirmed that it cannot sell the license required to install its apps and services to Huawei due to the US ban.
  • A temporary reprieve from the US government last week does not apply to new products such as the Mate 30, according to the Google spokesperson.
  • Google declined to reveal whether it had applied for a license to resume supplies to Huawei, though it said before that it wants to continue businesses with the Chinese company.

“Our new phones will still be based on Android…We want to maintain one standard, one ecosystem, one technology.”

—Vincent Pang, senior vice president and board director at Huawei

Context: Huawei smartphone sales in Europe tumbled 16% year on year in the second quarter, though it retained its position as the second-largest smartphone vendor in Europe with 8.5 million units shipped during the period ended June 30.

  • Huawei’s CEO of consumer business Richard Yu said in January that the company would overtake Samsung and become the world’s largest smartphone vendor by 2020.
  • In June, Huawei announced that it had given up on fulfilling this ambition because of the US sanctions following a Bloomberg report saying that the company was preparing for a 40% to 60% decline in international smartphone shipments.