Huawei has launched its Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro. These are the first phones affected by the US-China trade war, a major smartphone which does not have access to Google apps. Google outlined earlier this year that, under US restrictions on trade with China, Huawei would not be able to host Google services. While the famed search engine will be intact, there will be no Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube and no Google Play Store usually available to users when they buy a new phone, apps like SnapChat, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and more.
Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, said: “The era of 5G is an opportunity to re-think smartphone technology and the Huawei Mate 30 series is the ultimate expression of what’s possible. It’s the best for global 5G connectivity.”
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Yu showed a 5G speed test where the Mate 30 Pro was 50 per cent faster than Samsung’s competing Note 10 5G phone. He also used graphics showing the Mate 30 downloading an HD movie 80 per cent faster than a 4G phone.
Huawei says it still prefers to work with Google and the Android operating system though the loss of Google services makes no difference to the millions of Chinese consumers who regularly snap up Huawei smartphones but who have little or no access to Google Play Store anyway because of Chinese internet restrictions.
Huawei is developing its own operating system internationally. Called Harmony OS, it is not yet ready to power a global smartphone ecosystem. It will initially only power devices like smart TVs, smart screens, smart watches, in-vehicle systems and smart speakers.
But it is a platform which, in time, will allow developers to build the apps which lace together the complex developer ecosystem vital for smartphones. In other words, Huawei – second largest smartphone maker in the world – has taken the first steps towards creating an alternative platform to Android.
Android is open source technology – meaning anyone can use it – but Huawei is developing Harmony just in case that too is denied.
Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro can make use of a process known as “side loading” – the ability for the user to download apps missing because of the loss of Google services. With a relatively simple (if previously little known) process, phone owners can go to APK sites (Android Package Kit file format, as used by Google’s system). They can download the desired apps, thus sidestepping the ban created by the trade war.
For now, however, the big challenge facing the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro is how the average user will cope with this extra process. The phone itself has been designed to attract, with eye-catching colours and a big screen with a sleek body which Yu says makes it feel compact. It is available in 4G and 5G versions, which Apple’s new iPhone 11 isn’t.