HarmonyOS, Huawei’s mobile operating system that emerged after the US banned the company from using anything but the open source version of Android, has reportedly attracted the attention of HMD Global, the current custodian of Nokia branded phones.
According to a report on Taiwanese site ITHome, the company is working on two Nokia handsets that will embrace HarmonyOS over Android: the Nokia X60 and X60 Pro.
The report adds that the handsets have the potential to be big hitters from a specifications perspective, with a curved screen, a 6000mAh battery and 200MP camera all mentioned within the story.
But the use of HarmonyOS is undoubtedly the most interesting thing here. Huawei began work on the new operating system back in 2019 after the White House blocked the company from dealing with its American counterparts. While Huawei was still able to use the open source version of Android, this meant no access to Google staples like Gmail, YouTube, Chrome and, most damaging of all, the Google Play Store.
While less of a problem back in the firm’s home of China, where missing Google apps aren’t a big deal, the problem has caused Huawei significant problems in other territories. Our most recent reviews of Huawei devices, such as the P40 Pro and Mate 40 Pro, typically praise the hardware, but can’t ultimately recommend products with a cut-down version of Android.
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With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Nokia X60 or X60 Pro were exclusive to China. Another possibility is the phones launching with HarmonyOS for China, and the familiar old Android experience for the rest of the world.
A phone launching with identical hardware but different software would be unusual, but it does have some precedent: 2014’s Android based HTC One M8 was eventually released as a Windows Phone alternative for those turned off by Google’s OS.
When asked to about the report, HMD Global would not comment on the substance of the story, but did offer continued support to Android. “We know that our customers love Android OS Nokia phones, and our commitment to provide the best Android experience remains unwavering,” the company said.