The impact of the Trump administration’s blacklisting of Huawei Technologies was laid bare on Thursday as the Chinese company unveiled a flagship Android-powered smartphone that lacks any licensed Google apps.
Announced at an event in Munich, the Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro mark the brand’s first top-of-the-range device launch since it was forbidden earlier this year from trading with American partners.
Huawei Consumer Group CEO Richard Yu remained upbeat on stage during the company’s presentation, promising the phone would be a technological powerhouse with an unmatched new camera system.
In May, the US government blacklisted Huawei — which it accuses of aiding Beijing in espionage — forcing chip makers, software developers and other component manufacturers to stop selling critical smartphone parts to the company.
The ban’s reach affected Google, maker of the Android mobile operating system, which is why the new Huawei phones don’t have apps such as Google Maps, YouTube or the Google Play Store. The Mate 30 Pro runs on a version of Android that’s free and open-source, meaning companies don’t need a licence from Google to use it. Huawei calls it EMUI10. But without the all-important Play Store app repository, its still a bare-bones Android version underneath.
On the inside, the Mate 30 Pro runs on the new Kirin 990 5G processor, made by Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon, which packs more than 10.3 billion transistors into a space the size of a fingernail. The chip also combines a graphics processor, a 5G modem and dedicated neural processing units for accelerating artificial intelligence tasks into one.
Yu said Huawei’s testing on the China Mobile network showed the Mate 30 Pro able to achieve 5G download speeds of about 1.5Gbit/s — a figure that far outstrips the average figures possible even on most domestic fixed-line Internet connections.
Commenting ahead of Thursday’s launch, CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood said Huawei’s strong brand in Europe meant there “will be a market for any new products” given the company’s “good track record in slick design and leading edge features such as multiple cameras”.
“However, not having Google services will mean it’s a huge challenge for customers,” he added.
Other features of the Huawei Mate 30 Pro include:
- A 6.5-inch OLED screen;
- A quad-camera array with uncommonly large image sensors for a smartphone that capture photos at 40 megapixels, as well as ultra-slow-motion video at 7 680 frames per second;
- A powerful octa-core CPU;
- Water and dust resistant; and
- A 4 500mAh battery and wireless charging.
Yu also announced Huawei’s folding phone, the Huawei Mate X, will go on sale in China in October. First announced in February, the phone supports next-generation 5G networks and is the second folding phone from a major manufacturer to go on sale this fall — Samsung released the Galaxy Fold on 6 September. — Reported by Nate Lanxon and Oliver Sachgau, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP