Huawei’s next flagship Android smartphone, the Mate 30, will ship with a major disadvantage when it launches on Sept. 18.
Due to the ongoing ban on U.S. companies working with Huawei, the company’s upcoming Mate 30 will not ship with Google Play, which means users will not be able to access services like the Google Play app store, Gmail, or Google Maps, according to Reuters.
In the U.S. and Europe, Google Play services are deemed essential to Android devices. Without Google services, smartphones are basically “useless” insists my colleague Stan Schroeder, who’s reviewed Huawei phones without them.
In China, though, the Mate 30 won’t be as crippled since Google and its services are banned, and Chinese alternatives such as Baidu and Youku exist to replace them.
According to Reuters, the Mate 30 will still ship with Android — the operating system is open source and free for any company to use and modify — but the lack of the Play Store and Google’s services could seriously impact Huawei’s phone sales in the west.
The Mate 30 could take a serious beating particularly in Europe, where Huawei previously saw a 60% increase in phone sales from 2017-2018, but watched as sales plummeted 40% a month after the U.S. blacklisted the company and banned American companies from working with it.
For Huawei, the Mate 30 will be a test of not just its technology, but its brand. Can the Chinese company’s phones still be successful without Google? Sure, it can in China, where it’s the No. 1 smartphone maker. But in the west, where Google’s services are core to the Android platform, Huawei doesn’t stand much of a chance.
There’s no doubt the the Mate 30 (and its Mate 30 Pro variant) will be an impressive smartphone — rumors already suggest it’ll be packed from top to bottom with seemingly every feature imaginable — but great hardware alone isn’t enough anymore. Without essential services, a new phone is just a pretty metal-and-glass slab.
Huawei’s best bet for the future is to reduce its reliance on Google services and American companies so that it can’t be used as a bargaining chip in any trade wars.
The company’s developing its own “Harmony OS,” but it’s a long way off from being ready for smartphones. The biggest challenge will be getting third-party developers to port their apps to another platform.
We’ll see if Huawei’s Mate 30 will sink or swim, but it’s not looking good so far.