Huawei’s latest smartphones feature impressive hardware, design, and software. But one thing they don’t feature? Google Mobile Services.

While Google’s Android operating system is open source, the company’s Google Mobile Services which includes Search, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and the Google Play Store are not.

And due to US trade restrictions, Huawei wasn’t able to receive GMS certification for the Huawei Mate 30, Mate 30 Pro, and Mate 30 RS Porsche Edition smartphones.

That means customers who are willing to pay 799 Euros to 2095 Euros ($880 – $2315) for these phones may not have access to the full ecosystem Google has been building for the past 11 years. Huawei has its own solution for that… but whether it will be good enough to convince folks to spend money on premium hardware remains to be seen.

First off, it’s important to note that the new Mate 30 Series smartphones do run Android.

While the company is switching to home-grown software for smart TVs and smartwatches, Huawei is sticking with Android for its phones… for now.

But since the company cannot include the Google Play Store, it will load the new phones with its own app store. And since it can’t rely on other proprietary Google apps and services, there’s a new set of Huawei Mobile Services that developers can tap into for mapping, location, gaming, scanning, analytics, in-app payments, mobile payments, and other features.

Huawei says 45 thousand Android apps are already supported, and the company is hoping to attract developers by spending $1 billion on development, growth, and marketing funds.

Like most major smartphone companies, Huawei already has a habit of skinning Android with a custom user interface and app suite. The latest version of Huawei’s EMUI operating system will be based on Android 10 and includes a new dark mode, updated always-on display features, and support for touch-free gestures when using the Huawei Mate 10 Pro with its new gesture sensor.

Huawei is also a Chinese company, which means the company already has a history of selling phones without Google Mobile Services, which aren’t available in the company’s home country.

But it’s unclear whether the company has enough clout convince users to buy a GMS-free phone for use in other major markets.

Then again, it’s always possible that the company could turn a blind eye to people who just want to side-load GMS on their phones.

The best analog might be Amazon’s Fire line of tablets. They ship with a fork of Android featuring Amazon’s own app store and services and a very different user interface. But users have been sideloading the Google Play Store and suite of apps for years.

Or you could just use one of the many alternatives for installing Android apps without using the Play Store.

That said, jumping through those sorts of hoops to get more out of a $50 tablet is one thing. Doing the same thing for a phone that you spent as much as $2300 on? That’s another story entirely.

It’s always possible the US could lift trade restrictions at some point. But for now if you’re in the market for a Huawei Mate 30 series phone, you’re going to be spending a lot of money on a bold experiment.

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15 replies on “Huawei’s new phones cost up to $2300, ship without Google Play”

  1. So who is building these for them? Since the “Open” Handset Alliance won’t allow you to make phones using a forked version of Android if you already make any actual Android products.

    “Open” my rear end

  2. There’s some real dumb people out there 23 hundred bucks g where do I sign up

  3. I just don’t see side loading apps as that big a barrier. A guy who is going to go non-mainstream and buy a huawei phone is not going to be put off by doing the very thing millions of people do every day. That is, downloading and installing a few apps. Obviously huawei is selling enough phones here to justify their efforts or they would not bother. I just don’t know who is buying them.

    1. “A guy who is going to go non-mainstream and buy a huawei phone”

      Huawei is pretty popular in Europe. As the laypeople’s phone.

  4. Regardless of the OS, they’ve priced themselves out of contention. They may trying to make up for expected lost revenue. I don’t even see a guarantee of security & OS updates for X number of years.

  5. They are calling it the Mate 30 because they expect to sell 30 of them?

  6. These phones were already in the pipeline when stuff went down. They have no choice but to release them, without Google, or else take a bath on the last couple years of R&D. I don’t see why this should surprise anyone. They’ll probably sell fine in China and not at all, anywhere else.

    1. Yeah, it takes a long time for a product to go from concept to product release. I’m sure they’d lose more money if they just scrapped this completely because of the lack of Google apps.

  7. No way ever would I ever waste my money on Huawei garbage, especially if they don’t have Google play. Who pays over two grand for a rip off operating system and a questionable app store? 1 out of 5 stars. Don’t invest unless you want to throw money away

  8. I remember the Remix Mini also shipped without Google stuff, but had a shortcut on the opening screen called “install Google Play”. You basically clicked on it, agreed some terms and whatnot and 3 clicks later you had Google everything.

      1. Yes. And they were forced because they implemented a desktop mode when Google did not support it (yet). Interesting enough Samsung was not forced to do the same when they introduced DeX.

        1. The underlying issue for both the Remix and Huawei is that they did not have Google’s approval. So having an installer per your original comment is still not allowed.

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