What you need to know

  • A new report indicates that the Huawei Mate 30 will ship without Android.
  • New Huawei phones cannot use a licensed version of Android.
  • Instead, the Mate 30 will likely run Huawei's own HarmonyOS.

Huawei's next flagship series, the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro, are expected to be announced on September 18. The rumor mill has been hinting at things like a large notch and four rear cameras, but the latest report is easily the most interesting so far. According to Reuters, the Mate 30 will not be running Android.

All of Huawei's previous smartphones have shipped with Android, but thanks to the company being blacklisted by the United States, it's unable to use the Android OS on new hardware. Huawei is currently under a temporary lift for the blacklist that allows it to work with Google and Android for existing hardware, but the ban remains fully intact for new products.

Per the report:

A Google spokesman told Reuters the Mate 30 cannot be sold with the licensed version of Android and associated Google apps and services due to the U.S. ban on sales to Huawei. A temporary reprieve that the U.S. government announced last week does not apply to new products such as the Mate 30, the spokesman said.

U.S. companies can seek a license for specific products to be exempted from the ban. Google, a part of Alphabet Inc, would not say whether it had applied for a license for Android and the package of apps and services known as Google Mobile Services, though it has said in the past that it wants to continue supplying Huawei.

So, what does this mean for the Mate 30?

Huawei announced its HarmonyOS operating system in early-August as an alternative to Android and previously said that the first HarmonyOS devices would be launched later this year.

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We've yet to see what HarmonyOS's interface looks like or get an idea of how it works, but even with a replacement OS ready to go, Huawei will still be faced with an uphill battle.

It's also possible that Huawei could use a generic open-source version of Android, but without access to any licensing deals with Google, it won't be able to use any of the company's official Google apps — that means no Gmail, YouTube, Drive, etc.

Huawei launches its homegrown Android rival — HarmonyOS