Huawei and Honor say Android updates for existing devices won’t be impacted by the loss of their trade license
Huawei and Honor this week said its existing devices will continue to receive software and security updates, despite being placed on the U.S. Commerce Department’s “Entity List.”
The official Huawei Mobile Twitter account and an Honor spokesperson published tweets meant to allay fears from consumers about the U.S. tightening trade restrictions. Honor is a subbrand of the Huawei Consumer Business Group and is also impacted by the placement of its parent company on the Entity List.
Hi there, thank you for your message. There is no impact on existing devices. We will continue to share security and software updates to our devices, as we always have. If you have any questions, please let us know via DM.
— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) August 17, 2020
For consumers, the normal use, system updates and after-sales services of both Honor's sold and on-sale products will not be affected.
— Bhavya (Haya) (@bhavis) August 19, 2020
Back in 2019, Huawei was embattled by sanctions when the Trump administration placed the company and all its subsidiaries on the U.S. Commerce Department’s “Entity List,” which prevents American companies from collaborating with them on key software and hardware components. It’s what has prevented Google from licensing Google Mobile Services (GMS) for new Huawei device models made available after May 16, 2019. In order to reduce the burden on rural network providers in the U.S. as they transition away from Huawei-made network gear, the U.S. granted Huawei a temporary general license (TGL) last summer, which was subsequently renewed several times over the last year. Since the license expired last week, however, the U.S. has not and will not extend it. Google earlier said that the TGL is what had allowed the company to collaborate with Huawei on delivering security updates and updates to Google’s apps and services on devices made available before May 16, 2019.
It’s a complicated situation with a lot of questions left up in the air. It’s unlikely that existing devices will have Google apps and services removed from them in future software updates. Devices that already have GMS can likely continue to receive updates to Google apps from the Play Store since that doesn’t require any active collaboration between Google and Huawei. As we explained last week, however, Huawei won’t receive support from Google if any changes they make to their future software builds break compatibility with Google apps. And, of course, the update situation for Huawei’s newer devices that already lack GMS, such as the Huawei Mate 30 and P40 series, hasn’t changed with the loss of the TGL, so those devices will continue to receive updates whenever they’re ready.
We reached out to Huawei, though, to clarify if the company can continue to implement GMS into software updates for its existing devices indefinitely without collaboration from Google, and also to find out if existing devices will continue to pass SafetyNet Attestation following an update.