The Huawei Mate 30 series of smartphones were just announced a few days ago. To know more about the phone itself, click here. For this post, we’re only going to talk about the whole controversy surrounding Google apps and services and also the Huawei Mate 30 series of smartphones only.
We have confirmation that Huawei’s latest Mate 30 series will not have Google apps and services preinstalled and you’ll have to do that yourself. Some mad lad actually installed Google apps on the Mate 30 series of smartphones during the demo session at the launch event in Munich. This is what happens.
Installing YouTube in a Mate 30 pic.twitter.com/IE4ojNubuk
— Alex Barredo 📉 (@somospostpc) September 19, 2019
But hey – that’s only the YouTube app. How about Google Play app APK file that was downloaded from APK Mirror?
Google Play refuses to open in a Mate 30, fresh from APKmirror pic.twitter.com/kCaefAq2Bt
— Alex Barredo 📉 (@somospostpc) September 19, 2019
Nope, same thing. Can’t even launch the app.
UPDATE: There’s someone who installed even more services that was downloaded from somewhere. That seems to seem to work, but the trustworthiness and security of these sideloaded Google services remain to be questioned. I have no idea what the video is saying, though.
Why does sideloading Google Play Store APK works on other phones?
Great question – I dug around and found this article.
What intrigued me was the explanation in “Scenario 2”. The author explains that even though Chinese variants of Android smartphones do not ship with Google Play Store pre-installed, the Google services are “dormant” inside the phone. You can install Google apps on their own and it will work flawlessly.
I experienced that on our review unit of the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom Edition which did not come with Google apps, but we installed the Google Play APK and it worked right away. That is not applicable to the Mate 30 series.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case for Huawei. Since the infamous ban, Huawei can’t even pre-bake any Google services to have them lay “dormant” in the phone. As shown in the Twitter videos earlier, those Google apps and services refuse to work on the Mate 30 series.
Can we still get back Google apps and services on Mate 30 series?
Yes, but with some risk and too many trade-offs. You can install the Google services on your own through some sketchy sites and it works. However, no one can guarantee you security or safety as it might have malware and spyware.
Then, back to this article, you can install your own Google apps and services through Open Gapps. But you’ll have to unlock the bootloader to flash Open Gapps to your phone. But Open Gapps has this disclaimer on their about page:
Take note that Open GApps does not provide you with any license for Google’s APKs included in the package. The Open GApps packages merely provide a convenient way to sideload APKs to your device. It is your own responsibility to obtain the proper permissions by e.g. buying an OHA-licensed device with pre-installed Google Apps and/or acquiring the applications from Google’s Play Store.
More than a year ago, Huawei locked down the bootloader entirely. As reported by Android Authority, Huawei’s reason to lock the bootloader is that Huawei wants to “deliver the best user experience and prevent users from experiencing possible issues that could arise from ROM flashing”. But Huawei is quick to throw that out the window for the sake of sideloading Google apps.
And Huawei seems to be encouraging that as well, as Android Authority reported that they’re now allowing bootloader unlock on the Mate 30 series.
UPDATE: Apparently, a Huawei spokesperson reached out to Android Authority to clarify that Huawei has “no plans” to have the bootloader unlockable on the Mate 30 series of smartphones. It is also reported that Huawei denied any further comments regarding the bootloader situation.
Truth be told, I’m disappointed if the bootloader is locked. That means developers have to painstakingly find an exploit to unlock it, hindering and delaying the sideloading of Google apps and services.
What are the side effects of unlocking bootloader?
I’m not sure how Huawei will handle this case since they’re encouraging its customers to unlock the bootloader themselves. For other smartphone manufacturers, unlocking your bootloader means voiding your warranty. This is definitely not something you want to do for a €1,000 Euros phone.
For those who are thinking of rooting, keep in mind that there are many apps that do not work if the phone is rooted. Banking apps and many other games just don’t run with rooted devices. You can dive deeper into the rabbit hole and explore the beauty of Magisk.
What about replacing Android with Huawei’s own OS?
But then again – remember Huawei went around flaunting about their HongMeng OS and how it’s going to “replace” all of Google and Android. Some reports claimed that Huawei said the HongMeng OS is “60% faster than Android” or “60 times faster than Android“. But all of that was overblown due to media sensationalization (which we do not do) and Forbes eventually proven it to be bogus. Forbes also wrote this:
Huawei’s CEO explained that the OS had been designed to run on networking equipment, not smartphones, and the low latency is needed to enable IoT processing to take place—in industrial applications and autonomous vehicles, for example.
But what about Huawei’s claim to replace Google’s Android entirely? Well, the replacement doesn’t seem to be ready for smartphones just yet. How do we know? Let us explain.
Firstly, this report from Abacus. Chinese developers who got their hands on the Ark complier showed utter disgust with the half-baked product that Huawei launched. Without a proper compiler, no apps can run properly. Taking a paragraph from the report, it says:
Huawei declined to comment for this article, but the company has said before that the Ark Compiler would be rolled out in phases, with the source code for the complete toolchain not being available until 2020.
As another sign of Huawei’s heavy reliance on Google, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Technologies Consumer Business Group, said that if Google ban is lifted, Huawei will push Google apps to Mate 30 series “overnight”. The keyword here is “if”, making it a gamble.
It does seem like Huawei’s own Mobile Services that was mentioned during the keynote is not going to be sufficient.
Huawei has their own app gallery too – but unfortunately, we do not have a Huawei phone at hand to show you the Huawei App Gallery. Here’s a short video showcasing the Huawei App Gallery.
However, it should also be noted that Huawei already asked app developers to make their apps available on the Huawei App Gallery. 9 to 5 Google reports that Huawei sent an email to developers to persuade these developers. Huawei touted millions of users are using the App Gallery too.
Yeah, this is a long post. My personal conclusion is this – you have a total of 3 choices if you insist on buying the Mate 30 series of smartphones:
- Live without Google apps and services until further notice
- Go through the troubles of installing Google services yourself
- Just buy another phone