The Huawei Android ban saga continues on – a tidal wave of uncertainty and political side-eye.
We recently had US President Donald Trump declaring some trade would be allowed between the United States and China – but his ramblings inevitably led to more confusion and need for clarification.
Despite the apparent softening of the US stance regarding China and Huawei, the Google Android ban situation still hasn’t changed all that much.
We’re here to unpick all the confusion as it happens with this comprehensive guide on the Huawei Android ban and if it affects your devices.
Huawei Android ban: Why it happened
Google’s parent Alphabet announced it would suspend any business that “requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing,” with Huawei on Monday.
The move came after the US White House issued an Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain on May 15. The order was part of the country’s ongoing tit-for-tat battle with China over trade. It followed widespread, currently unproven, claims Huawei tech was being used by the Chinese government for spying.
Google isn’t the only company to reportedly be cutting ties with Huawei following the order. Microsoft recently removed the company’s MateBook laptops from its store. Intel, ARM and Qualcomm have also been reportedly forced to instigate bans.
We’ve contacted Microsoft, ARM, Qualcomm and Intel about the blocks but hadn’t received replies at the time of publishing. We’ll update this article when we do.
Huawei Android ban: What services won’t work
The Google ban would mean that future Huawei phones and tablets would no longer have an Android license. Huawei tech would no longer receive software updates, be upgraded to new versions of Android or have access to the Google Play Store and Services as a result. This would lock Huawei devices out of the app store and mean popular services like Google Maps, Music, YouTube and Assistant will not work.
However – shortly after the ban was implemented – a 90-day extension was put into place. The extension allowed Huawei to issue updates to existing phones and continue to do business with US companies for the short period. Trump’s comments have indicated the extension period could itself end up being extended or – even – removed entirely.
Related: Best Android phones
Huawei Android ban: Which phones are affected?
Huawei confirmed its existing phones will continue to have access to the Play Store and services in a statement sent to Trusted Reviews, which you can see in full below.
“Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.
“Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those have been sold or still in stock globally.
“We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”
Google has since reiterated this statement in a tweet from Android’s official Twitter account.
For Huawei users’ questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US gov’t requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device.
— Android (@Android) May 20, 2019
It is unclear how long this will continue to be the case, however. The consumer version of Android Q is set to launch towards the end of the year. The ban will stop all Huawei phones from being updated to it. The ban also means Huawei phones will lose access to app updates if Huawei updates its own software, which really isn’t an ideal situation.
Huawei Android ban: Does it include Honor?
The Android ban also applies to phones from Huawei’s subsidiary brand Honor. At the time of publishing its newly unveiled Honor 20 Pro did still have access to Google services.
Huawei Android ban: The U.S. government aims to provide some clarity
Following talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping – Trump recently appeared to declare companies would be allowed to sell to Chinese companies as long as the transactions were not deemed to be a security risk. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow seemed to confirm as much following Trump’s declaration, stating that US companies can see chips and services if they can be found on general markets anyway.
However — less than a week later — a senior U.S. official has told the Commerce Department to continue to treat Huawei as a blacklisted company. While the two actions seem to contradict each other, the US has now clarified its position and it’s a bit of both really.
US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross gave a speech explaining the department will issue licenses “where there is no threat to US national security”. This is far from a full rollback, however. Ross clarified: “Huawei itself remains on the Entity List, and the announcement does not change the scope of items requiring licenses”. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow was also back to let us know the easing of requirements allowing for “safe” Huawei products to be purchased was only “for a limited period” — leaving the door open for the US to change its mind whenever it likes.
The “limited period” remark is extremely frustrating with regards to clarity for consumers. While Huawei phones currently receive Android updates, it remains hard to recommend the purchase of one when the US can have such a large impact on Google’s business with Huawei on a whim. The 90-day extension Huawei was given in order to allow for Android updates to continue is hurtling to an end – this is likely when we’ll get the next big update to the saga.
Huawei Android ban: What does the UK government have to say?
Since the US ramped up its opposition to Huawei, there have been questions about Huawei’s role in the UK’s network infrastructure – including the development of 5G. Back in March, former digital minister Margot James tweeted: “… final decision yet to be made on managing threats to telecoms infrastructure”. It was then reported Huawei would be allowed to help build non-core 5G infrastructure in the UK.
Four months later, the UK looked set to make a decision on how the Huawei Android ban would impact relations. However, digital minister Jeremy Wright declared the UK government would delay its decision – suggesting Parliament would look to see how the Huawei Android ban plays out over the next few months. Wright avoided criticising the Chinese company or talking about potential security risks – instead choosing to focus upon the uncertainty the US sanctions on Huawei places on doing business with the company.
Wright’s statements may come as a disappointment for those hoping for more clarity on the issue. Wright chose to link the UK’s decision to the Huawei Android ban itself – which we know is a mountain of confusion and never-ending squabbles.
Huawei Android ban: When does it take effect?
The ban was originally meant to take effect on 16 May, but Google has since reportedly given Huawei a 90-day extension, while it “evaluates” the ramifications of the executive order. President Trump’s latest remarks on the matter have thrown a lot up in the air with regards to the continuation of the ban and the length of the extension.
We’ll be updating this page as and when new information comes out. Make sure to bookmark it and check back with Trusted Reviews for all the latest information on the Huawei Android ban.