Huawei’s Mate 30 Bootloader Will Be Unlockable So You Can Sideload Google Apps

Posted on September 20, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Android, Google, Hardware with 15 Comments

Huawei launched the new Mate 30 line yesterday. And although the company’s new flagship phones are pretty amazing, there’s one major problem: the lack of Google apps.

That means the Mate 30 line doesn’t include any of the Google apps like the Google Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube. Huawei actually underplayed the issue at launch and didn’t talk much about the lack of Google apps, or whether they had any alternatives for customers. The company did say it will make it “quite easy” for users to get their hands on the Google apps.

Android Authority is reporting that the company could make that happen by unlocking the bootloader on the Mate 30. Android phones, for those unfamiliar, can allow users to sideload apps (and a lot of other things) by unlocking the bootloader. But due to security concerns, Huawei previously limited the ability to unlock bootloaders on its devices. It’s now taking a step back from that, though.

“We limited [bootloader unlocking] because we wanted to guarantee more security for consumers. But this time we will leave more freedom for the consumers so they can do more customization by themselves. So we are planning to let consumers do that,” Huawei CEO Richard Yu told Android Authority. It’s not clear exactly how users will be able to unlock the bootloaders on the Mate 30, and whether Huawei plans on making it easy to unlock the bootloader, or have the phones ship with an unlocked bootloader out of the box.

Either way, the concept of bootloaders and sideloading apps will be confusing to the average Joe. There’s even a chance most normal consumers buying the Mate 30 won’t be aware of the lack of Google apps on the phones. So yes, this ongoing trade battle between the U.S. and China is not only affecting businesses, but it’s ultimately affecting the regular consumer.

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Huawei’s Mate 30 Bootloader Will Be Unlockable So You Can Sideload Google Apps”

  1. Thom77

    "The lack of Google apps on Huawei's Mate 30 line of phones is a major problem"


    I see it as a benefit.

    • rob_segal

      In reply to Thom77:

      No Google Play Store will be a major problem for the vast majority of Android users.

    • bill_russell

      In reply to Thom77:


      Right, I'm sure Huawei's 2nd rate google app replacements and paid bloatware are a benefit, if they are anything like Samsung. (sarcasm).

      Is there a Huawei "app store" or do people go to 3rd party apk download sites. Yeah, I'm sure that's "a benefit" rather than the relative safety of the play store directly, getting to avoid anything Google. (more sarcasm)

  2. beatnixxx

    So i'm not any kind of expert on Android, but I bought an Amazon tablet for simple use around the house. I don't recall having to do anything special (although I probably enabled something along the lines of "allow side-loading" or something in the interface), other than follow some steps to download & execute a few .APK files to enable google services/google play store, etc. and I've got a very speedy/flexible Android tablet now.


    With a little bit of planning/staging, I'd think it would be fairly trivial for Huawei to turn this into a one or two click end-user experience, no?

    • SvenJ

      In reply to beatnixxx: I agree. I thought unlocking the bootloader was needed to flash a third party ROM, not to sideload apps. I just turned off the requirement to get apps from the store in settings on my Fire tablet and was at that point able to side load apps using apks. One thing I installed was the Google Play store. Problem solved. That whole thing isn't for the run of the mill consumer though. Not hard, but not normal either.


    • IanYates82

      In reply to beatnixxx:

      Yep.


      Even on a brand new, out of the box Galaxy S10, you can sideload apps.

      Download the APK. Open it. You get an Android prompt warning about it and an option to enable side-loading just this one time.

      Very similar to a Windows UAC prompt


      The Play Store itself though might need more hooks in to the phone?

    • wright_is

      In reply to beatnixxx:

      Yes, the bootloader isn't needed to load Google services, at least not in my experience. It is only needed if you want to load a third party ROM - and it has the downside that most secure apps (communications, banking etc.) will refuse to run, because the bootloader is unlocked and the device is "unsafe".

      Sideloading has never required the unlocking of the bootloader.

  3. sjb2016

    I was buying Huawei phones way before they were cool ;) back in 2012. Back then you could easily unlock the bootloader by entering a few details in an online form on the Huawei website and they'd email you the details. One did this because some of the alternative ROMs for the phone I had (Ascend G300) worked better with an unlocked bootloader (why, I'm not sure), but most could be installed without going through the above process.


    For anybody that has a passing interest in using alternative ROMs, unlocking the bootloader (if the manufacture supports it) is trivial. For anybody else, it might as well be like trying to fly to Mars. Honestly, I'd consider buying a Huawei because it didn't have any Google stuff, but as I finally give in to having everything on my phone, including banking apps, my priority is finding the right intersection of price v security. I can't afford Apple, so instead I buy Android One devices, not because I like Google, but Android One devices have guarnateed and timely security updates for three years, which is important to me. If Huawei is willing to make a commitment to three years support and no Google, I'd strongly consider the move.

    • bill_russell

      In reply to sjb2016:

      Note, the pixel 1's are now on 4th year of support - after 3 version updates with Android 10. I believe this is a first.

      I continue to find it interesting that some people think a google-free phone would be a good thing, but using Huawei's apps and side loading whoever else 3rd party apks that can run without play services (and play protect app monitoring) is somehow better.

  4. glenn8878

    There’s big hurdles. How? Where? Who has the time to figure this out?

  5. codymesh

    This should be seen as an opportunity for developers to diversify - Epic Games' Fortnite had cut out the middleman, and frankly I hope more big name apps do the same.

  6. Daekar

    You know, trade disputes affect businesses... That's the whole point of the trade thing... It's to cause the other side problems until they give in. It's amazing that people point this out constantly as if it's some kind of side effect that was unforeseen.

  7. PeterC

    The thing is, without GMS (google mobile services) running, the mate 30 battery life will be super awesome. I’d certainly buy a mate 30 variant instead of a oneplus simply because the cameras will be so much better and the issue of removing google has already been done.


    I’m really not fussed about Google’s absence, not at all, but I am wondering if banking apps etc will be installable as a daily driver, there could be issues.


    I think one one of my biggest concerns is finding one morning huawei have pushed all google apps services to the devices overnight after a license resolution and I didn’t want them! So I’m hoping that development would be an optional opt in rather than compulsory.... daft I know but oddly possible.

  8. ChristopherCollins

    I don't know why Android Authority even wrote this article. You don't have to unlock a boot loader to side load apps. That is just a setting you change.


    Am I missing something here?

  9. bill_russell

    This is what the EU wanted though - no forced google apps, and services - so it might be seen as a feature.


    Also, I'm confused about the role of unlocking the bootloader in this. You don't need to unlock the bootloader to sideload apps, including google play services, which is where my confusion lies.



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