Huawei’s latest smartphone, the P40, is out. With an OLED quad curve display, sleek design, stunning camera, and powerful battery, it is an excellent piece of hardware – only one thing, it is missing access to Google Play services.
Last year, rising tensions between the US and Huawei led to the decision to force Google to suspend Huawei’s Android license. The Android operating system is an open-source project, meaning the US government cannot ban its use. However, the ban states that Google can no longer offer Google Play services and the Google Play app store to Huawei, effectively cutting the company out of Google’s app ecosystem.
The Huawei P40 and Huawei Mate Xs are the first phones to be hit by the ban. So how is the ban affecting the user experience?
Nowhere to download many popular apps
Huawei has built a new app store, the AppGallery, to compensate for the loss of the Google Play app store. However, many of the world’s most popular apps outside of China, including Gmail, Google Maps, Twitter, Instagram, Citymapper, and Uber, are missing.
Some apps cannot be transferred
Some are touting the app’s “Phone Clone” as a workaround to the app store issue. The function allows for a quick transfer of data from your old phone to your new Huawei phone. But with Google Play services absent, the Google app login system and backend of many apps are missing, meaning some apps you transfer will crash, not let you sign in, or display error messages each time you open the app.
Alternative app stores and APKs are not a complete solution
Alternative app stores like Aptoide provide more avenues to download apps missing from Huawei’s AppGallery. However, many apps will be unverified, posing security issues, and many still are unavailable. The same problems arise if you try to download apps via Android application packages (APKs), which are direct downloads to application files.
Backdoor methods are flawed too
People have reported managing to put Google Play Store on their Huawei P40 and Mate Xs through a range of backdoor measures, but doing this will not solve all your problems. Backdoor remedies are unofficial, and there are no guarantees they will work indefinitely. Also, some core apps like Google Pay will continue not to function properly.
How can Huawei cope with this mess?
Huawei is negotiating with developers to bring more apps to its app store and has expressed that it would like to see Google Play services return to its phones in the future. In a recent interview, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said it will take “no more than 300 years” to surpass Google and Apple, expressing that he had no intention to completely isolate the company from American hardware and software.
Although the Huawei P40 and Huawei Mate Xs are impressive phones in terms of hardware, when it comes to software, the difficulties that arise from the Google ban are unforgivable to the user experience. Huawei will have to find solutions to recreate the experience other Android phones have if it is to protect the long-term viability of its smartphone market outside of China.