Huawei South Africa has stated that owners of its smartphones in South Africa would not be affected by the US trade ban in any way.
Huawei was added to the US Entity List in May 2019, which prevented US businesses from conducting business with the Chinese company and resulting in a storm of speculation around the future of its operating system and consumer technology products.
Companies including Google, Facebook, ARM, and Western Digital were forced to cut their contracts with Huawei, and Huawei responded by stating it had a Plan B which it could implement if the United States continued to enforce its trade ban.
The US government issued a 90-day licence to Huawei, granting it a temporary reprieve from the consequences of the executive order and the ability to continue using US technology during this period.
Consumers and publications have speculated about the possible impact the ban could have on Huawei smartphone owners, predicting everything from the removal of Google-linked applications to the development of a workaround operating system which would remain compatible with popular Android apps.
MyBroadband interviewed Huawei South Africa CBG general manager Likun Zhao about how this situation will affect smartphone owners and users who purchase a Huawei smartphone in the future.
Business as usual
Zhao acknowledged that South African Huawei owners were concerned about the effect that the trade ban could have on their user experience, but allayed any potential fears by stating that the software and functionality of their devices would remain unaffected.
“Consumers are worried that if they own or buy an existing product they will have these problems after 90 days,” Zhao said.
“We want to clarify that for all existing products, all of the products launched in South Africa, we can promise that none of them will be affected in terms of Android updates or Google application compatibility.”
He confirmed that apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook would continue to work as normal going forward.
Zhao added that the global situation has not functionally affected Huawei’s local business, and owners of Huawei smartphones should not worry about any change to their user experience.
“The real issue came around from the lack of information and understanding, but nothing has functionally impeded our local business,” Zhao told MyBroadband.
He said that the selection of devices already launched in South Africa will be covered under all Google services, as well as platform updates and security patches.
“The devices which are available to buy or are in consumer hands now will not be subject to any problems – not in one month, not in three months, not in two years.”
“If you own a Huawei smartphone in South Africa, this situation is irrelevant to your user experience.”
Android Q rollout
Zhao added that as Huawei’s existing devices had already received approval from Google, they were also eligible to continue receiving major Android platform updates.
Huawei UK recently published a list of smartphones which would receive the Android Q update, and Zhao confirmed that South Africa’s Android Q rollout would be aligned with this information.
“Our strategy will follow the European strategy,” Zhao said. “Next month we still start rolling out the beta version of Android Q for the Huawei P30 Series in South Africa.”
He added that other major smartphones including the Mate 20 Pro would also receive the Android Q update, as this process was not affected by the US trade ban.
Going forward, Huawei said its first priority is working with partners to try and continue offering the same user experience to customers through Google’s Android operating system.