If you want to know whether you can still buy an Android phone or Windows laptop made by Huawei, the simple fact is that 'yes you can'.
Current phones will continue to get security updates and current devices that would have got the forthcoming Android Q will still get it. Laptops will get all the Windows updates in the traditional manner. The upcoming Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro will also launch running Android Q with Huawei's EMUI 10 user interface on top.
Question marks do still remain over future phones, such as in 2020. But given the softening in the US stance we think the status quo will continue.
The story so far
In May it was announced that Google and other businesses that trade in the US have to change the way they deal with Huawei. The Chinese giant was blacklisted by the US in the latest skirmish of the ongoing trade war.
Subsequently, in a speech on 29 June, President Trump said he has agreed to allow US tech companies like Google and Qualcomm to once again start selling to Huawei following the restart of trade talks between the US and China. The caveat is that it's only for goods not connected to national security.
Trump made the comments at a press conference at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. The move seemed to be a reaction to the fact US companies were also feeling the effect of the ban.
Google was particularly vociferous that preventing Huawei using its version of Android could potentially result in national security issues through people using a Huawei-developed replacement OS - now revealed to be HarmonyOS. In reality, it's probably because it would hit Google profits.
On 1 August Trump further stated "we're not allowing Huawei into our country, we're not changed on that". This would have showed a stronger stance had he not immediately clarified it with "we can do business on non-security things with Huawei, we can do that". So the situation is pretty much unchanged since the late June statement.
Huawei will still be involved in 5G network tech in the UK and US plus smartphone and PC tech is OK to sell for companies like Qualcomm, Intel and Google.
Huawei sent us a brief statement in late June but hasn't really been that forthcoming since."We acknowledge the US president's comments relating to Huawei [on 29 June] and have no further comment at this time".
We don't yet have an official reaction from other companies such as Google so the situation remains officially unchanged at present.
However, as we said above, the upcoming Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro are set to get the new version of Android - Android Q. What's more, Huawei and Honor devices have been added back to the Android Enterprise Recommended website. That's significant as Google is actively recommending them to businesses for long-term use.
It certainly feels as if Google's pressing ahead with full support for Huawei devices.
As for other countries, it's true that Australia and Japan have blocked Huawei from involvement in 5G networks, but the UK Government saw no reason to do the same (it did previously identify some problems in Huawei's software which the company is working to fix). None of these countries have banned Huawei from trading there.
All the UK networks use Huawei tech in their networks, although increasingly not in the core of the network, presumably in case future issues are identified. However, in terms of transmitter gear, Huawei remains a big player.
Coincidentally, there has been a hit on Huawei sales - analyst Kantar says there has been a 2 percent hit on sales in the key EU countries, which isn't as bad as you might expect.
What the original trade ban meant
The order from the US Government originally issued in May meant Huawei couldn't buy tech from US firms without its endorsement. However, a reprieve was in place until 19 August to enable all companies to make plans for the future.
The ruling was particularly problematic for the Google-Huawei partnership, which meant that Huawei would only be able to use the openly available version of Android – which doesn’t include access to Google apps like Maps and YouTube, the Play Store or Google Assistant.
As a contingency, it's been strongly rumoured for much of 2019 that Huawei was developing its own operating system thought to be called Ark OS (or HongMeng OS in China). This has now been revealed as HarmonyOS but it is not based on Android at all.
Google said at the time the ban was announced that it was “complying with the order and reviewing the implications” but clearly it wasn't an ideal situation for the search giant either – it would always prefer other companies used Google apps because of the advertising revenue it makes.
There was a reprieve to the ban until August which already enabled Huawei to stockpile some components and make alternative arrangements in other areas. For example, it enabled Huawei to announce that it will be bringing Android Q to the P30, P20 and Mate 20 (plus more) as - presumably - it was able to use the extra time to get the updates approved by Google.
Since the Google situation became apparent other suppliers such as ARM, the SD Card Association, Intel, Microsoft and Qualcomm said they would have to suspend trading with the Chinese giant, so there was hurried work behind the scenes trying to get partnerships signed off before the August cut-off - companies are probably still pressing ahead with this work in case of a change of heart by the Trump administration.
ARM now says about the situation: "ARM is pleased to see the latest progress in discussions around Huawei. We are closely monitoring the situation and look forward to updated guidelines from the Commerce Department and how they apply to supplying our valued partner HiSilicon."
HiSilicon is Huawei's subsidiary that makes phone chipsets. The withdrawal of ARM cooperation would have been massive since all of Huawei's smartphone platforms use ARM-based designs (as do almost all smartphones and tablets everywhere).
Huawei's upcoming ARM-based Kirin 990 platform (probably set for launch at IFA 2019 in early September and surely destined for the Mate 30) was presumably already signed off at that point.
US chipmaker Intel supplies the chips for Huawei’s laptop line, a market that it was hoping to make an impression on in the UK and Europe as well. It's highly possible that Huawei has been stockpiling these chips.
What does it mean for existing Huawei devices?
Existing Huawei devices like the P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro are unaffected in their current form. No apps will disappear and they can continue to use Google apps and get security updates. Because Honor is a subsidiary of Huawei, the same implications would apply to its handsets, too.
Google is clear on this point: "For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices".
For Huawei users' questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US gov't requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device.— Android (@Android) May 20, 2019
For its part, Huawei says it “will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those which have been sold or are still in stock globally.”
Even if the trade ban does continue or resurface, Huawei can "provide service and support, including software updates or patches, to existing Huawei handsets". This basically means Huawei can continue to trade in the US for these purposes.
What wasn't clearer for a time was whether Huawei and Honor handsets would get feature updates. But we now know that these devices will get the upgrade to Android Q from the Fall/Autumn onwards and they'll also get EMUI 10, Huawei's user interface, on top too.
- P30 Pro
- P30 Huawei
- Mate 20 Huawei
- Mate 20 Pro
- Mate 20 RS
- P30 lite
- P smart 2019
- P smart+ 2019
- P smart Z
- Mate 20 X
- Mate 20 X 5G
- P20 Pro
- Mate 10 Pro
- Porsche Design Mate 10
- Mate 10
- Mate 20 Lite
- Honor 8X
- Honor 10
- Honor 20
- Honor 20i/20 Lite
- Honor 20 Pro
Our commitment to you, our UK fans. pic.twitter.com/gqVohZVLGz— Huawei Mobile UK (@HuaweiMobileUK) June 20, 2019
The company has also launched a website to answer regular queries and tweeted about its "commitment to fans".
What does it mean for future devices?
The Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro we’re expecting in October will have Android Q and EMUI 10. However, there is a rumour that at least one version of the Mate 30 range - probably the Mate 30 Lite - may have a HarmonyOS version, too. That is likely to be China-only.
Still-being-released phones like the Mate 20 X 5G and Honor 20 series don't have an issue anyway (indeed, as mentioned above, they'll also get Android Q). They’ll have been through the Google Play certification process already.
We also think this probably applies to the Mate X foldable phone, which we'll see hit (some) streets in September. There's no Mate X in the Android Q list above, but we reckon it may launch with Android Q anyway.
Even if some future Huawei phones used HarmonyOS, they'd probably have the EMUI user interface on top - that would mean it would look extremely similar to the operating system on existing Huawei Android-based phones.
We first heard about HarmonyOS back in March - it seems that Huawei first started work on it as much as seven years ago.
30 May update: Added extra links and context about the ongoing situation.
11 June update: Added new developments from Google and UK operators.
20 June update: Added information about devices getting Android Q update
1 July update: Added information on Trump's G20 statement and new Huawei statement
9 August update: Major rework after the announcement of HarmonyOS
12 August update: Android Enterprise information added