We just had a briefing with Huawei CEO Richard Yu at the company’s Mate 30 launch event and boy was it not great news for those hoping to sideload the non-Google apps-toting phones with the Google Play Store.
Because the Mate 30 Series doesn’t have the GMS – or Google Mobile Services – Core, Huawei chief Yu said that you “cannot sideload" Google Play Services but that it may be possible to install some other Google apps through other means.
And many third-party apps will be available through Huawei's own AppGallery, which works just like the Play Store.
UPDATE: We have confirmed that you can install the Google Play Store on the devices by completely unofficial means. This is not endorsed by Google or by Huawei and so is impossible for us to recommend.
Yu said it was still keen to bring the devices to European countries like the UK "because consumers like our products and we need to continue our business". The phone is definitely coming to Europe, but the list of countries is very non-committal and there is no date set.
We have tried to sideload Google apps on Mate 30 demo devices here and apps like YouTube don’t work because the Google Play Store doesn’t run and Google Play Services doesn’t install. But other APKs, or installer files, do - one person installed WhatsApp, for example.
One interesting point - Huawei has locked down its bootloader in recent years for improved security. But Yu said the company was looking at whether they could do something about that to enable users to install other apps.
"We limited that because we wanted to guarantee more security…we are planning that consumers can do some customisation by themselves."
Trade war confusion
On the trade war, Yu took on an almost bemused tone. "It’s not good for US companies, it’s not good [for us]…in the past we [made] a big contribution to US companies. And now it’s not allowed to use…it's damaging to US companies' business.
"We are very open and transparent. We are a globalised company. In the US-China trade war we have become a bargaining chip.
"We didn’t want to do this…we were forced to do this. We have a good partnership with Google but the US Government forced us to do this. I hope you guys can understand this."
Yu added that he still expects the phone to do well globally and, of course, will still sell well in China.