After a few false steps, it seems Huawei is now committed to launching its next big handset this month.
The Huawei Mate 30 series will indeed launch later this month at an event to be held in Munich, Germany on 19 September 2019. There was speculation about whether the Mate 30 would lauch at all, or if it did, what software it would run, and while the latter question hasn’t yet been answered, it seems certain that the Mate 30 will launch .. somehow.
— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) September 1, 2019
What’s far less clear is what the Mate 30 will actually look like, and we don’t mean physically – the case design and layout has been comprehensively leaked in the months leading up to this announcement.
Rather, the question on everybody’s lips is will the Mate 30 still run Android, and if it does, will it still have access to Google Services? If “a Google spokesperson” is to be believed, the answer to that latter part is no, there won’t be any Google services on the Mate 30 series.
Will the Mate 30 still run Android? Well, Huawei executives said yes a couple of weeks ago at the Huawei Developers Conference held in China, but that was then. In the meantime, the US has extended Huawei’s (limited) relief from an outright trade ban, but made absolutely clear one thing – the purpose of the reprieve is to allow Huawei to service existing customers with existing product. Any new product would require licence from the US Department of Commerce, and while it’s unclear whether Google has been granted one to help Huawei out, it seems most likely the answer would be no.
Huawei’s tweet about the Mate 30 in Munich is far from helpful in this regard – it merely mentions going “full circle”; there’s nary a hint of whether the phone series will be Android powered, whether it will feature Google services, or whether it will be running something else (e.g. Harmony) entirely.
While Huawei’s Richard Yu claimed Harmony OS was ready to go for mobiles at a moment’s notice should Android no longer be available or feasible, other executives walked back from this claim, stating that Harmony wasn’t yet ready for smartphones. However, without Google services, there’s little reason for Huawei to stick with a (hobbled) version of Android, and every incentive to break out on its own.
Will Harmony be ready? Will Huawei pull out a surprise Google trump card to make the Mate 30 a full Android with Google experience? I guess we’ll find out in two weeks.