Huawei Could Release Phone with Its Own OS This Year

Posted on August 5, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 24 Comments

When it comes to Huawei and its contingency plans for an Android-compatible smartphone OS, it’s hard to know what to think. But according to a new report from the Chinese state media outlet Global Times, such a system could arrive as soon as this year.

I know. We’ve been down this road before.

In the wake of Huawei’s blacklisting by the U.S. government, Huawei pledged that it would continue supporting existing handsets with new Android versions and security updates. But the firm also revealed that it has been secretly planning for this day since 2012, and was developing replacements for both Android and Windows. In June, a South China Morning Post report claimed that a Huawei-created replacement for Android was called Hongmeng. But the firm denied that a month later, stating that Hongmeng was an IoT system for smart TVs and other similar embedded devices.

But last week, as part of its first half of 2019 financial report, Huawei said that Hongmeng was its “long-term strategy,” And now a new report in the Global Times says that it could be deployed in a new phone as soon as late 2019.

Citing multiple sources, the Global Times claims that Huawei will launch a sub-$300 smartphone running Hongmeng alongside the Android-powered Mate 30 Pro this fall. It’s not clear if this budget phone will be Android-compatible or will be sold outside of China. But the firm will allegedly produce “several million units.”

“Huawei is set to release the much-anticipated HongMeng OS, an alternative to Google’s Android OS, at Huawei’s Developer Conference on August 9 in Dongguan, South China’s Guangdong Province,” the publication notes. “The first batch of devices to be equipped with HongMeng OS will be the Honor smart TV series, which will be put into market on August 10. In the future, the HongMeng OS will be expanded into other fields including autonomous driving, remote medical services, and industrial control.”

While this report seems to further confuse matters, it may have actually stumbled onto the truth: Yes, Hongmeng was originally designed for embedded/IoT use and is thus much simpler and smaller than full Android. But with Huawei facing a long-term ban from using Google’s Android, it is adapting Hongmeng as a replacement for that system on smartphones too.

“Sources said that one of [the] tests Huawei is running on the HongMeng OS is its compatibility with Android applications,” the Global Times added.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Huawei Could Release Phone with Its Own OS This Year”

  1. Daekar

    They should do this. Even if it's a loss leader, getting this thing out in the wild is the only way to move it forward a meaningful way. Once it's a living OS in the phone space with a Dev team and whatnot, they can keep it small and continue to refine it so it's always there and current in case they need it.

  2. wright_is

    In reply to SvenJ:

    We saw, in June, that yes that is a problem for everyone. The ban on Huawei stopped them getting chips and other components, they lost the rights to use future designs of ARM, they lost the rights to use future versions of Android and Windows (hence HongMeng), they probably lost a lot of other things, like VxWorks for industrial hardware, for example, which don't hit the news.

    On the other hand, that would also have meant 20 - 30% less sales for some American companies, like Google for Android, Qualcomm would be heavily down on LTE chipsets, Intel on processors etc.

  3. chocolate starfish

    In reply to SvenJ:

    Potentially it is. Trump could punish trading partners who refuse to follow his lead.

  4. Thom77

    Call me crazy but I almost would rather have China collecting my data through a device then Google at this point if I had to choose. In a perfect world, I would want neither, but forced to choose, I think Google is literally more dangerous ..... then a foreign government ... as far as the negative impact to my privacy and ownership over my personal data.

    Google is basically a privatized intelligence agency at this point. Would you rush out to buy a phone produced by the CIA with CIA software on it?

    • wright_is

      In reply to Thom77:

      For us, non-Americans, it is even worse. Do we want Americans spying on us or Chinese? Neither, thank you.

      If I don't have a choice, I'll take the cheaper Chinese product and disable as much spying as I can.

      • skane2600

        In reply to wright_is:

        Maybe there needs to be an EU mobile ecosystem.

        • PeterC

          In reply to skane2600:

          Hi skane2600, the EU have stated this and much of their fines, investigations and legal cases against US tech companies is paving the way for this, by trying to create the opportunity for a Europe wide tech industry to grow and flourish.. One particular problem area is how small innovative start up business end up being bought out by the big us tech companies so they acquire new IP to reinforce their existing dominance and stranglehold access to key platforms services etc for upcoming business. Happens across a lot of regions and in many respects is a standard business practise of business acquisitions etc, but the dominant leverage ( search, play store etc) of these companies is squashing users choice and what would be normal market competition. So stating that Europe needs a mobile eco system is true but let’s say one comes to the fore, how is this going to get onto handsets? When you look at Google’s OEM contracts you realise it’s a total lock in. Look at googles response to Eu/huawei last year when the EU was probing Google’s Android handset supply contracts with manufacturers as part of its investigations. Huawei wanted to supply Europe with an open source android handset for its own EU based App Store initiative... its around the same time huawei offered to sell Apple modem chips in its ongoing Qualcomm dispute. Curiously 12 months later huawei are heavily confronted by US govt sanctions. The behind the scenes wrangling of last years EU google investigations was a tipping point and wake up call to many of just how capable huawei had become and how US tech dominance could be broken which both US boardrooms and the US Govt don’t want to happen. The only companies that can break this deadlock are ones who can make handsets, have an OS, have an App Store and can supply their own silicon and component supply lines etc..... so that’s either Samsung or Huawei. The US will do anything to stop huawei succeeding, and they are trying, but the Chinese are exceedingly resourceful and are prepared to take some serious set backs to achieve their goals. The same trade battle will possibly replicate itself with India too.... although it’s early days still but it’s on the cards, just watch and see.

  5. Passinttd

    I see this as a big deal. Not in terms of Hauwei being out from under the Android problem. I see this as a big deal when China's leadership says that all future phones in China must run this instead of Android. Resources would be thrown at it and developments made fairly quickly.

    I don't believe pulling Android from Huawei will have a lasting impact on them but will have a lasting impact on us. Especially if other parts of the world that are China friendly follow suite and have something to put stock in.

    All in all, 5 years from now this will all be a mute issue. This problem will resolves itself one way or another and it won't have a real tangible impact either way.

  6. beckerrt

    I hope it works out. Kinda getting bored with the Apple/Google duopoly. We need something like ChromeOS in mobile - a different kind of OS that might only be viable for a small section of the market.

  7. Slvrgun

    Cheeto will Block it

  8. karlinhigh

    In China, it should do OK as long as it runs WeChat, right?

  9. tonchek

    Correciotn: "hard to know WHAT to think?"

  10. yangstax

    It is not just Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo will also join in the testing of HongMeng OS on their devices.

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