What happened to Huawei phones in 2019?

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Jun 23, 2019

2018 was a complicated year for Chinese phone maker Huawei. In early 2018, FBI Director Chris Wray issued a warning against buying Huawei phones and technologies . The US government suspected that Huawei was spying on the US through its devices—something that Huawei vehemently denies. Despite this, however, Huawei managed to become the number 2 phone seller , after Samsung. The succeeding events after this triumph, has not gone well for Huawei. Britain has issued a statement that it will grant Huawei limited access to 5G infrastructure bound to roll out in 2021. Australia is more severe in its decision: it will ban the Chinese company completely in its 5G rollout. Facebook has followed suit by not letting Huawei preinstall its apps in their new models.

US companies take action

In May 2019, Google officially cut off Huawei from its apps and services like Gmail and Google Play. Likewise, technical support will no longer be provided. The situation is not as grim for Huawei phone users yet. The US Commerce Department issued a temporary general license that will allow Huawei to keep its existing networks and continue getting updates. Immediately after the issuance of the temporary general license, Google confirmed that it will keep existing phones and devices up to date and secure. However, models released after will not get the same treatment. So, Huawei phone users do not need to go into panic mode just yet. But this is not a sign to be relaxed about yet because the license issued by the US Commerce Department is only temporary—it will expire on August 19, 2019. Google’s next move is not known yet. So, unless Huawei manages to smooth out this wrinkle, there is a chance that Huawei phones will be excluded completely from Google’s future updates. While Google apps will likely still be usable, they are bound to crash after a few missed updates. 

Facebook’s move is less drastic than Google’s, and not exactly something to be worried about. While Facebook has forbidden Huawei from preinstalling their apps, users can still download these apps later on.

The more serious jab at Huawei came from Wi-Fi Alliance and SD Association last May. Wi-Fi Alliance has restricted Huawei’s membership, which means that its participation will be greatly limited. For now, while the temporary general license is in effect, Huawei phones will have no trouble accessing wi-fi networks. However, there is no guarantee that this will continue once the temporary general license is lifted. 

On the other hand, SD Association delisted Huawei from its website. As a consequence, future Huawei phones and laptops will not be able to support SD or Micro SD cards. Experts have noted that this move will cost Huawei the opportunity to shape the future of such technologies.


What is in store for users of Huawei?

At this point, it is not clear how involved parties will play out the situation. Nevertheless, Huawei is  preparing for either possibility. The Chinese tech giant has recently received the trademark for its own operating system called Hongmeng. Reports say that the OS is not yet ready . Huawei is also not keen on launching its own OS, and only plans to launch it should it not be able to use Android as well. 

The Hongmeng OS is both good news and bad news for Huawei users. Previously,  Blackberry and Microsoft  phones failed to enter the smartphone market due to its inability to provide apps that the Android OS can. The same issue may hinder Huawei users should Android decide to exclude Huawei as well. On the bright side, Huawei promises to take care of their patrons through security updates and after-sales services.

For now, it is too hard to predict the outcome of this phenomenon. Potential and current Huawei users are advised to stay put and wait until more definitive events and decisions take place.

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