Should you still buy a Huawei phone?

Mala Bhargava | Updated on May 29, 2019 Published on May 29, 2019

The company’s recent run-in with the US has many users concerned

By now, even those who aren’t remotely interested in gadgets and technology have heard of the flagrant spat between the US government and Chinese tech major, Huawei. The US banned all American companies from doing any sort of business with Huawei, which it hints may be involved in spying — no evidence presented. You might see it as ‘economic bullying’ from US President Trump except when you remember that China keeps most companies from the rest of the world out as well. Whoever is right in this trade war, it’s not good for Huawei or the tech industry and certainly not for us gadget lovers. While the powers that be sort it out — or not — what are we to do with our Huawei or Honor phones and do we dare buy new products from the company?

Pulling services

In quick compliance with the US government’s mandate on Huawei, Google pulled its services, for future phones. Since Huawei’s phones are based on Android (entirely Google’s), that is big trouble. There’s talk that Huawei could make its own operating system and already has it in place, but would you want a phone without Gmail, YouTube, Google Search and a dozen other Google services? Probably not. In any case, other companies, including in other countries, also followed suit and announced their withdrawal from Huawei. Not that any of them has a quarrel with the tech giant but they have little choice.

There’s a three-month period during which no one is certain what is meant to happen. Perhaps trade deals between the US and China? Perhaps the reprieve is just meant to keep from leaving customers in the lurch? Whatever it is, nothing is to change on Huawei phones immediately. In any case, Google has said it will continue to support existing devices, though whether those will get major updates in the future is uncertain. Three months, however, is a long time in the world of tech and anything could happen. The whole situation could get resolved and we would go back to the happy way we were, or things could spiral into a situation that hurts everyone. For in this Cold War being fought around technology, Huawei would by no means be the only loser. It is the second-largest phone manufacturer in the world and a leader in the infrastructure needed for 5G to happen, so any business taken away from Huawei would be business lost to dozens of American and other companies and carriers. Meanwhile, current owners of Huawei or Honor phones need to do nothing as it is just way too early to tell.

On the shelves now

Huawei has been making such attractive phones that it’s difficult to set aside buying them if you’ve decided on a specific device such as the P30 Pro or the upcoming Honor 20 series phones that offer the affordable alternative. We can’t in all conscience recommend buying one of these phones right now and can only urge interested customers to wait a little to see how things unfold in the next few days. What, after all, would one do if many services are withheld leaving you with unacceptable alternatives? Netflix, for example, is wholly American. So is Amazon. And Adobe. What happens if they’re withdrawn from a Huawei or Honor device? At the same time, if you want to take your chances and believe something will turn the situation, the smartphones that focus on photography are going to continue to work as extraordinary camera phones and you could opt for one, if you have the money to spare.

There are enough people who believe the best time to buy a Huawei phone may be now, if you spot some interesting deals; and if you decide to buy, you are taking a bit of a risk. We would advise a bit of a wait and watch, but if you were to go ahead and buy anyway, here’s what Huawei’s phones are loved for: smooth, powerful performance, good hardware specifications, great design that is only getting better, and really innovative camera implementations.

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Published on May 29, 2019
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