Google bars Huawei from Android updates

Just days after the announcement of Huawei Mate X, the world’s first foldable camera phone, and the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, Google has announced that Huawei will be losing access to updates for the Android operating system.

Reported by the BBC, this follows the Trump administration adding Huawei to its “entity list” of of blacklisted firms that American companies will require a licence to trade with, following a number of escalating tensions that has seen the company facing almost two dozen criminal charges in the USA.

Google said it was “complying with the order and reviewing the implications”. The ban could also affect a number of other firms that Huawei relies upon for its smartphones, including Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom, all of which make processors.

Several countries have raised concerns that the 5G technology incorporated in Huawei’s new phones could be used for covert surveillance by the Chinese government. Huawei has vehemently denied this. 

The Huawei P30 Lite

The Huawei P30 Lite

What does this mean for you?

If you’re currently using a Huawei smartphone such as the P30 Pro or Mate 20 Pro, don’t worry – they’re not going to turn into expensive bricks anytime soon. 

You’ll still be able to update your apps, apply security fixes and use Google-owned apps such as Maps and YouTube. Huawei is still able to use the version of Android that’s available through an open-source licence.

However, later this year Google is planning to release the next version of Android, and here is where you could run into problems, as it may not be made available to Huawei handsets. Future Huawei phones may also not be able to use the aforementioned Google-owned apps, or have access to the Google Play Store.

For the time being though, the firm is committed to looking after its current users – “We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally,” it said in a statement.

What’s the future for Huawei? At the moment it’s uncertain, though it’s safe to say the smartphone giant isn’t disappearing any time soon. In a statement to Japanese media, Huawei chief executive Ren Zhengfei said the firm had been anticipating this move and preparing for it.

Assuming the ban is not lifted or altered in any way, the firm plans to push ahead with becoming self-reliant in terms, producing its own parts for future phones and developing its own app gallery.

What this means for the future of smartphones more generally is uncertain – we could see the start of more phone manufacturers becoming less reliant on Google if Huawei makes a success of going it alone, and Huawei may also face setbacks in its ongoing competition with Samsung. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

Read more:

Huawei Mate X: the world's first foldable 5G camera phone

Huawei launches its first 5G handset, the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G

Huawei P30 Pro vs Huawei Mate 20 Pro: how do the cameras compare?

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Jon Stapley

Jon spent years at IPC Media writing features, news, reviews and other photography content for publications such as Amateur Photographer and What Digital Camera in both print and digital form. With his additional experience for outlets like Photomonitor, this makes Jon one of our go-to specialists when it comes to all aspects of photography, from cameras and action cameras to lenses and memory cards, flash diffusers and triggers, batteries and memory cards, selfie sticks and gimbals, and much more besides.  

An NCTJ-qualified journalist, he has also contributed to Shortlist, The Skinny, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, The Guardian, Trusted Reviews, CreativeBLOQ, and probably quite a few others I’ve forgotten.