back to article Ever wondered how Google-less Android might look? Step right this Huawei: Mate 30 Pro arrives on British shores

After almost four months on sale in its native China, the Google-free Huawei Mate 30 Pro is finally coming to the UK as a Carphone Warehouse exclusive. Pre-orders for the phone opened today, with a UK launch pencilled in for 20 February. The Mate 30 Pro is Huawei's current flagship device, packing a Kirin 990 platform and …

  1. Anon 17

    Already got Android without Google -- LineageOS with microG + Magisk. The Play store hack is baked in!

    https://lineage.microg.org/

    1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

      And with free vulnerabilities baked in (signature spoofing, unlocked bootloader).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Aptoide seems to have everything you could need and doesn't seem to have any more dodgy apps than the Play Store.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Why download from a dodgy third-party app store, where apps are uploaded by unknown third-parties, where you can have open-source apps that could download original, unmodified APKs from the Google Play Store servers?

          https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.aurora.store/

          https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.github.kiliakin.yalpstore/

          1. RobHib
            Facepalm

            ...Becasue Google is the problem.

            Specifically because Google is the actual problem! Isn't that abundantly clear?

            Mind you, I use F-Droid and of course Aurora Store if I ever need anything from the Google Spy-Store which, fortunately, is hardly ever. Essentially, if you spend a little time looking around you can get just about everything you'll ever need without ever going near the Spy-Store.

            P.S.: After you root your your phone, if you're smart you'll get rid of all the Google crap, especially Google Play Services and Google Play Store before you put your machine online for the first time. Given the smallest of chances, this pernicious software does everything it can to steal your personal info. It's so effective that it puts many viruses to shame.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      SFOS on an Xperia X twin SIM. Still needs a couple of Android apps, but is cool and different

  2. Matthew Smith

    Meanwhile in China..

    ..the government has released an app that tells you if you have been into contact with someone who has the corona virus. Because it knows exactly where all its citizens have been and who has been speaking to who. Do you really want a Huawei phone?

    1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile in China..

      Because it knows exactly where all its citizens have been and who has been speaking to who

      You are aware that Google knows all this as well, right? And far, far more besides.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: Meanwhile in China..

        Also, your telco.

        If you pick the Amazon option, do you think it will treat you better than the Ring doorbell would?

    2. steelpillow Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Meanwhile in China..

      WTF. If the phone really is backdoored by its local spook department, no govt-supplied app needed, that will hardly be a world first, will it? Moreover I reckon the Chinese government cares a lot less about my daily minutiae than those nearer to home do. They are never going to slap an arrest warrant on me for brewing coffee past its sell-by date or whatever is the local plods' latest trick to achieve their quota for the month.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meanwhile in China..

        nah they;ll just sell that data to plod in the UK or the USA, help to avoid looking for any of those dangerous types and still meet quota...

        1. P. Lee

          Re: Meanwhile in China..

          Back in the early 2000's I worked at a large UK telco and put a firewall in for a link which went somewhere we were not allowed to officially know.

          Shipping data to plod is not a new thing.

      2. Yes Me Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Meanwhile in China..

        "If the phone really is backdoored by its local spook department, no govt-supplied app needed, that will hardly be a world first, will it?" No indeed. The full story of Crypto AG is out now (behind the Washington Post paywall) and, well, all their kit was backdoored by the CIA for several decades.

        The belief that American companies are to be trusted and that Chinese are not is very quaint.

  3. G R Goslin

    I'd go for that...

    I'd go for that, if it were not for the mouth watering price!. Getting rid of the unwanted Google apps has always been my goal, as it was before Google came on the scene. Going back to the early days of the PC, there were always people that produced applications, as they were then, which outshone, by far, the 'in house' stuff. Then, you could dump the limping native offerings and load in the good stuff. Now we're loaded with the junk, which fills the storage space, and adds to the update load. More power to their elbow.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: I'd go for that...

      Buy any phone, root i, add rom without google stuff. Twas what ive been doing since my s2

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: I'd go for that...

        Buy any phone
        Easy, so far so good
        root it
        Becoming somewhat more difficult these days
        add rom without google stuff
        Also becoming more difficult to find because of the above

        1. RobHib
          Flame

          Re: I'd go for that...

          "Becoming somewhat more difficult these days"

          Very true, especially machines like the moto g5s plus and the g6 plus which are pretty easy to brick permanently if you upgrade to LineageOS and then have a change of mind and reinstall the stock ROM, that is unless you've a guaranteed watertight backups of your IMEI and WiFi configs (Don't trust TWRP just because it's said its done a backup--go check and inspect the actual data for yourself.)

          This leads on to the obvious point which is that with the millions of rooted machines already in service you'd reckon by now that some enterprising company would have marketed a reasonably high end machine with the bootloader unlocked and LineageOS or like kind already installed—but sans any trace of GApps. I reckon there'd be a huge demand for such a phone especially after the Facebook privacy scandal.

          Frankly, I'm damn tired of these phone companies fucking us about when it comes to rooting our machines. They're are forever crapping on about adding extra protection to phones under the guise of increasing security such as Google's stupid changes to its WiFi APIs which can lead to faults that irreversibly change the WiFi MAC address to 02:00.00 etc. Chances are that if this happens to you then you'll end up with a permanently bricked phone. The fucking hide of these bastards.

          Moreover, I'm also extremely annoyed with Huawei as I got caught out by the company. Several months before the company arbitrarily decided to switch off providing access to the bootloader, I bought one of its phones in good faith and on the understanding that I could unlock the bootloader but I didn't try to unlock it until it was too late (as I was unaware of the deadline which was published after I bought my phone). Essentially, even though the company knew my phone was purchased well before its deadline, it decided to play bastard and failed honour the status quo under which I purchased the phone. If Huawei had said "that it would not provide access any phones purchased after xyz date" then it still would have been a bitch of an act but one could have at least understood it.

          Well, with fucked ethics and shithouse customer support like that I wouldn't put anything past the Huawei, and I hope it gets everything it deserves--which ought to be an even harder time than it's having now. However, one thing is absolutely certain, I'll never buy another Huawei smartphone or other appliance again.

  4. fwthinks
    Facepalm

    Missed opportunity?

    I would have thought that a bargain phone with good specs would be a better option - as most people would accept the limitations of no play store if they think they are getting a better deal on the hardware. If I am spending nearly a grand on a phone, I would want all the bells and whistles and not have to play around with side-loading.The only reason the amazon store exists is become their tablets are dirt cheap and people will put up with the limited options.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missed opportunity?

      Yes, and after being burned, I wait until a phone is out a while and has a community supporting it before buying, either something cheap from China or older kit from Samsung.

  5. AndyMulhearn

    Not in the market but...

    It's an interesting looking blower, though the price is s bit high, and not having apps like Maps some of the more worthy music apps would be a bit of a drawback. Having said that, a moments duckduckgoing found a legit Opera apk that can be downloaded - from Opera themselves - for sideloading and includes Whatspp and FaceBook messenger built in and on desktop at least supports the Spotify browser client. Combine that with web access to email and that feels like most of your basic needs met without going anywhere near Google.

    1. OldManBlueSkies
      Stop

      Re: Not in the market but...

      Isn't FB and WA part of the problem? I want to use my phone without MZ cumming all ove rmy data!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mate 30 Pro will start at £899 for the base model

    surely some mistake, i.e. £89.9 for the base model? :D

    1. Gonzo wizard
      Thumb Up

      Re: Mate 30 Pro will start at £899 for the base model

      That's just to be certain that there are a few(*) left after launch day.

      (*) all of them.

    2. bengoey49

      Re: Mate 30 Pro will start at £899 for the base model

      £ 700 in Indonesia. Why is it so expensive in the UK ? Tax ?

  7. Adair

    F-Droid

    ... then install Aurora. Hey presto, Play Store! If you need that kind of thing.

    And I'll add another vote for Lineage, except for the buttock clenching possibility of bricking your chosen device. I appeared to come tantalisingly close, but somehow managed to weasel my way into a successful installation.

  8. EastFinchleyite

    Resistance is Unpopular

    (... as well as being futile)

    I wonder whether the Trump/Google axis realises that in the end they will only weaken the position they are trying to strengthen.

    In reaching this conclusion I refer to the Principle of Least Resistance (an example of Zipf's Law)

    Android users get access to apps through the Google Play Store because it is currently the easiest way to do so. It would be a mistake to think that banning some smartphones from accessing that Play Store will deter owners. It just makes other means (Amazon apps, side loading etc) easier than Google. The intention of Trump/Google is to dissuade people from buying these phones i.e to stop them being owners. This may not work.

    App developers that place their product only on the Google Play Store do that knowing that almost all their customers can gain access that way. Why bother doing the extra work of providing alternative access for such little return?. Once it becomes clear that there is a significant number of customers outside the Google ecosystem, these apps will become more widely available. Likewise, once it becomes clear to such phone owners that getting apps through notGoogle is not difficult the barrier to ownership of banned phones is brought down.

    Google currently has a de-facto monopoly on Android apps because it is free and relatively easy. That monopoly gives it the base from which to gather the data that is its lifeblood. In putting up barriers that will only deflect demand rather that deter it, they are "cutting off their nose to spite their face".

    In the end, it will comes down to whether phones like the Huawei Mate 30 Pro are any good and justify their price. My own feeling is that anyone pays £899 for a phone is bonkers.

    1. matt 83

      Re: Resistance is Unpopular

      I'm pretty sure Google have absolutely no desire to block their apps from this phone and they're only doing it because they have a gun to their head.

      1. ratfox Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Resistance is Unpopular

        Indeed. By the way, how come the Amazon store is easier to install rhan the Google one? They are both US companies, you'd expect the same obstacles... No?

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Resistance is Unpopular

          It's not the Play Store that's the problem but the GMS that Google requires OEMs to install. Amazon's store or anything like APKPure is just an APK with no special export (and essentially unenforceable) restrictions.

  9. Andy Non Silver badge
    Happy

    I just bought the Huawei P20 Lite for just over £200

    from Amazon and am very happy with it. I didn't expect it to come with Google Play etc, but was surprised it had all the Google stuff on it. Not that I care, as I don't use Google Play anyway.

    My old Nikon camera died (at the grandaughter's wedding much to the chagrin of the Mrs) and I'd read good reviews of the camera with the P20 Lite so thought I'd give China's bad boy a go. It makes a change to be tracked by the Chinese rather than the USA. Battery life is around 5 days with my light usage. Photos are decent quality and saves me carrying around the feature phone + dedicated camera to family functions.

    Couldn't stretch to the price of the Mate 30 Pro and to be honest I can't see what I'd personally benefit from by spending four times the amount.

    Only downside so far is all the endless updates to all the Google crapware on the phone that I'll never use and can't apparently get rid of anyway. Maybe I should have waited buying until the phone was definitely Google free.

    1. IGotOut

      Re: I just bought the Huawei P20 Lite for just over £200

      You can disable many of the Google "apps", newstand, music, YouTube etc.

      That stops the updates, speeds up your phone and gets some privacy back

  10. bencurthoys

    How is Amazon not covered by the same embargo that stops Google working with them?

    1. Jwdb

      Very different beasts

      Huawei may not be bundling either store with their phone, and for a consumer the Amazon store is definitely easier to install than the Google store. You can't just install Google's app store as a standard app - there's a number of non-trivial dependencies, and everything I read last time I flashed Android indicated these have to be installed immediately after flashing and before booting. For Amazon, however, just grab the apk.

      Plus, aren't there additional distribution restrictions on the Google store? As in, Google won't let you ship phones with it unless you install the entire suite of Google tools?

    2. EastFinchleyite

      Training

      Good question.

      It is sometimes said that a well trained dog will bark when you tell it to bark. A REALLY well trained dog will bark when you WANT it to bark.

      The Page/Brin/Schmidt triumvirate at Google seems to behave like Trump's really well trained dog

      Amazon's owner Jeff Bezos is certainly not Trump's bitch.

  11. Blackjack

    Don't forget F-Droid

    If you want open source apps and prefer Icecat over Firefox. And you want to play SuperTuxKart on Android.

  12. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    ...that "intelligently" disregards unwanted [members of the] presses

    That's just right up Downing St.

    Will we see a job lot of these being delivered to the government?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Chinese Gov spying or US Gov spying, don't you love choice and the free market ?

  14. cb7

    I thought the whole point of the embargo was to stop Huawei kit proliferating alleged Chinese gov controlled backdoors into the UK and US.

    By allowing phones in and keeping network equipment out, the message is, they can have backdoors at the edge of the network, in users hands, but not in the core network.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The whole point of the Huawei ban is to apply pressure on the Chinese government in trade negotiations. Trump, and all his little demons, think the only way to win is to play hardball.

  15. NerryTutkins

    it'll bomb

    It doesn't matter how good the specs are, or how much most people who work in IT don't like Google. The fact is the average phone buyer wants apps, and is going to be pretty annoyed if they buy a 900 quid phone and find they can't use Google Play like they're used to, and the alternatives don't have anywhere near as much stuff.

    It's basically what killed Windows Phone. Lack of apps. This phone could be awesome in every other respect (as some Windows Phones were, I had one) and it may have the most popular apps like FB and WhatsApp (just like Windows Phone did) but it won't matter because there will be plenty of apps that aren't.

    That said, longer term there are so many Chinese manufacturers, that the US government's ban is likely to backfire. It's not just chinese manufacturers, because it's not really about security. It's economics. Trump thinks that US companies can be used as leverage to rebalance trade. The problem is that could equally be applied to Samsung (and other Korean companies), as well as all manner of other Chinese and far east manufacturers. So there will start to be a centre of gravity around establishing a shared app store that is free from such interference, maybe based in a neutral country and run independently. So the US might find its heavy-handed approach longer term just reduces its leverage and damages US based companies in the future (who would want to rely on US based services when they could be used later as leverage for other purposes)?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it'll bomb

      Huawei has a much better chance at success than Windows Phone had.

      Huawei has the entire Chinese market available to them, with all of the Chinese-language Apps that that market wants (via the Huawei App Gallery, which has been in place for years as the default App store for Huawei).

      Windows Phone didn't have that.

  16. DrXym Silver badge

    We've already had Google'less tablets

    A lot of the early Android tablets failed Google's minimum specs and requirements for certification so they shipped without Google. Archos for example did it.

    I hope somebody provides an easy way for Huawei's phone to sideload GApps because otherwise their offering will be as useful as a chocolate teapot.

  17. OldManBlueSkies

    Huawei are being bullied by Trump and as an act of defiance we should buy it. Also, I agree that our data is stolen as soon as any government agency puts it on their secure networks. They share the data left right and centre!

  18. fredesmite Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    $900 for a phone

    No way

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    App store

    apkPure

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