Huawei Technologies’ new Mate 30 5G smartphone series will be released today, but the new devices won’t come with YouTube, Gmail or Google Maps.
The new devices may be the first round in the mounting trade war between the U.S. and China playing out on the frontlines of smartphone technology. And for the first time consumers outside the US and China will have to choose between better designed Chinese smartphone and Google’s operating software.
Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer will unveil its 5G smartphone series the Mate 30, in Munich, Germany later this week.
According to early leaks, the new phones are expected to come with features which outperform those of US smartphone makers including 7,680fps video recording, two 40MP rear cameras, 27W wireless charging, a single-button design, and a display that cascades over the edges.
Analysts question whether Huawei’s hardware will be impressive enough to justify the loss of Google’s apps on the phone, especially in markets outside of China.
“It will be a major challenge for Huawei to market the Mate 30 family to consumers in Europe,” said Ben Stanton, London-based senior analyst at research firm Canalys. “The omission of Google services from a major flagship smartphone is unprecedented. I suspect that many who might have chosen Huawei before will find this a compromise too far,” Stanton said.
Google’s ecosystem, which includes the Android operating system is a big draw for users. The Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones and without access to popular apps like YouTube, Google Maps and Gmail, the Mate 30 line of phones becomes less attractive to consumers.
In May, the U.S. Government placed a ban on U.S. companies from selling tech and software to Huawei due to concerns that the company’s equipment could be used by the Chinese government to spy on the U.S.
While Huawei has denied these claims, the increasing tech divide is escalating the trade war between the U.S. and China.
The ban has prevented Huawei from doing business with crucial chip and software suppliers like Intel, Micron, Qualcomm, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others.
Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Huawei, recently told The Economist in an interview that Huawei would consider giving another company access to its 5G patents, code and technical blueprints for a one-time fee.
Ren stated that the license would give the buyer the freedom to modify Huawei’s source code, which would mitigate any possible spying concerns. As part of the deal, Huawei would keep all of its existing carrier contracts and continue to develop new 5G tech, as well as work to secure new sales contracts.
While the deal may have some merits, it’s unclear if the Chinese government would agree to Huawei selling off its most valuable asset to a foreign company. It’s also uncertain if there’s a company that is willing to buy Huawei’s 5G patents.
Fallout from the ban is threatening the dominance of U.S. tech companies in global markets.
Although Huawe’s phones are not sold in the US, they are very popular around the world. As the global smartphone market continued to decline in the first quarter of 2019, Huawei was the only smartphone vendor of the top three device makers to see volumes grow.
With year-over-year growth of 50.3% in the first quarter of 2019- prior to the ban Huawei was within striking distance of Samsung which sits at the top of the global market.
For this reason, fallout from the ban is also expected to hit big US tech firms. Microsoft, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Intel, and Google and others have been urging the U.S. Government to ease the ban on sales of less sensitive products including smartphones through the approval of export licenses, according to Bloomberg.
While tech firms can still sell to Huawei under a 90-day reprieve granted by the U.S. Commerce Department last month it’s possible that by December Huawei may no longer have access to Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows operating systems.
Huawei is working to replace Google’s Android with its operating system Harmony O.S. and has started selling their MateBook 13, MateBook 14, and MateBook X Pro running the Linux O.S. in China called deepin which will undoubtedly dampen sales for both Google and Microsoft in the future.
Meanwhile, concerns of potential cybersecurity threats from Huawei’s equipment have been an escalating among other nations. NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile carrier announced it will exclude Huawei from its upcoming 5G mobile phone service earlier this week. The U.S., Australia, New Zealand have already banned their respective national carriers from buying 5G equipment from Huawei.