Huawei launched its Mate 30 Pro premium smartphone last month, and the company kindly supplied us with a device to test out.
While the Mate 30 Pro is one of the best smartphones on the market right now, it is unfortunately not available in South Africa.
Huawei opted to postpone the launch of the Mate 30 Pro because it runs an open-source version of Android 10 without Google Mobile Services (GMS). This means that apps like YouTube, Chrome, Google Search, and the Play Store are not installed on the device.
It is possible to side-load some of these applications through third-party APK distributors, but it would be difficult to tweak the Mate 30 Pro to offer the same experience as a Google-certified device.
Following the publication of our initial impressions of using the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, we tried to install GMS and Google apps on the device.
GMS and LZ Play
Shortly after the launch of the device in European markets, a number of publications found a workaround to install Google Play Services – and subsequently the Google Play Store and official Google apps – on the Mate 30 Pro.
This was enabled through an obscure Chinese app named LZ Play, which was able to install Google Mobile Services on the new smartphone.
Google quickly cracked down on this application, however, following the publication of online videos and articles detailing the workaround.
Upon receiving our Mate 30 Pro device and attempting to install Google apps, we found that we were unable to install Google Play Services on the smartphone using this or any other method.
Installing the Google Play Store APK was possible, but it would not open as the smartphone did not have the required GMS core files to run the application.
This left us with only one option to try and get the collection of apps we wanted on the device: install each APK manually and hope that they worked.
WhatsApp, but no YouTube
We tested a number of applications, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Chrome, and Netflix.
The applications owned by Facebook – Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp – all ran perfectly on the Mate 30 Pro, despite the lack of a Google Play Store.
YouTube did not work at all, and displayed a pop-up on startup which read as follows:
“YouTube won’t run without Google Play services, which are missing from your device.”
The same message sometimes appears in the notification area when Chrome is running, although the browser works perfectly and can even be used to access YouTube.
Unfortunately, Netflix did not work on our Huawei Mate 30 Pro at all, even after we tried a selection of different APKs from third-party websites and official Netflix support pages.
Life without Google
The ability to use WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram is great and allows the Mate 30 Pro to fulfil many requirements for modern Android users.
The lack of a Google Play Store means that you will not be able to automatically update your APKs, however, and you will also not be able to use any dedicated Google apps.
This means that Google Drive, Docs, Assistant, and other services will not be accessible. Additionally, the lack of a linked Google Account to the actual operating system makes it impossible to use Google’s password locker or contact syncing features.
Android users rely significantly on these background services for their devices to work efficiently and familiarly, and the lack of these services is definitely noticeable.
There are replacement applications available through Huawei’s AppGallery, however, and the company has said it is working on developing its own ecosystem before launching the device in South Africa.
This means that even if Google certification does not return to post-trade-war Huawei devices, South Africans will eventually be able to access a replacement selection of apps and services which would offer a similar experience on their Huawei smartphone.