Will Huawei and Honor phones get Android 11?

Google just announced the first Android 11 Developer Preview and if you’re a Huawei/Honor smartphone user, you must be wondering how soon would update to Android 11 be available on your phone or if it ever will, amidst its spat with the US government. In this article, we’ll discuss if Huawei and Honor phones will get Android 11 and if so, which devices will it run first on.

But first…a little backstory

2019 was a year full of peaks and troughs for Huawei. By the end of the first quarter, the Chinese technology giant seemed to be on track to outrace Samsung in the smartphone game with the then-latest P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro flagship devices. It even stole Samsung’s limelight in the foldable market by launching the Mate X. And then, just weeks late, things took a serious u-turn as the US government imposed a trade ban on Huawei and also encouraged that other countries stop doing business with the company as well.

From there, Huawei plunged into a nosedive as it lost ties with Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Intel but more importantly, it was the break-up with Google which hurt the Chinese company the most. The ban meant that Huawei was no longer able to use Google apps and services, although Android itself is open source.

Did Huawei phones get Android 10 after the ban?

Shortly after the ban confirmed that its eligible devices will continue to receive updates and even major ones including Android 10. It’s last year’s Mate 30 and 30 Pro already ran on Android 10 during its launch and its older flagship siblings – P30 and P30 Pro also received an update to the latest Android iteration.

Since then, the company has pushed the Android 10 updates for the P20/P20 Pro and Mate 10 series and even launched new devices with Android 10 including the Mate 30 RS Porsche Design, MatePad Pro, Nova 6 SE, Nova 6, Nova 6 5G, and Nova 7i. Huawei’s sub-brand has also released new phones with Android 10-based Magic UI 3 and these phones include the Honor V30 and Honor V30 Pro.

Will Huawei and Honor phones get Android 11

Although Huawei seems to have got accustomed to managing itself without US technology, hardware-wise, software is still what ties the hardware to good user experience. Without Google Mobile Services (GMS), Huawei phones will lack Google’s useful apps include Maps, Photos, Play Store, Drive, and more.

That said, Huawei and Honor will both be able to launch new phones and push updates to its current phones with Android 11 and future Android versions since Android itself is open-source. This means that Huawei’s upcoming phones will be able to run the upcoming version of Android and its EMUI 11 will be based on that.

The Chinese giant also has made it clear that it doesn’t want to return to GMS but will instead establish its own Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) as a viable replacement for an ecosystem. According to recent reports, Huawei is working on adapting the current set of Android apps and add them to its App Gallery store with help from over 4,000 developers in order to fill the gap left by Google suite of apps.

But to answer the question of whether Huawei will push Android 11 to its smartphones, the answer, most possibly, is yes! The US ban hasn’t stopped Huawei from launching new phones and delivering Android 10 updates and it has proved that it’s a company that is too big to fail. While there are plans for an independent operating system codenamed HarmonyOS, Huawei will most likely stick to Android, at least for the next few years.

At the time of this writing, Google is yet to add Huawei devices back to the Android Enterprise Recommended website. Huawei has been granted extensions of Temporary General License repeatedly (via Cnet), the last of which is set to expire by the end of March.

What is HMS and what does it mean for future Huawei phones

In a recent press meeting in Green Point, Cape Town, Huawei Consumer Business Group’s Chief Technology Officer, Akram Mohamed, announced the company’s alternative to Google Mobile Services by launching the Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). HMS will be an underlying platform to continue using Android on future Huawei and Honor phones. Huawei Y7p will be the first Huawei phone to feature HMS.

Since the company cannot use developer kits that are released by Google, Huawei will have to make do with alternatives that can still log in to your Google account through a third-party host app or through a web browser. The Huawei executive further explained that its app repository that goes by the name AppGallery now has over 1.2 million apps. Of the over 1.2 million apps, 11 000 applications have been identified are those used extensively around the globe.

For example, you will be able to download WhatsApp from AppGallery and use it but without support for Google Drive backup. Huawei says it’s working on providing alternative cloud services for this. Similarly, logging into Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter will also be possible but without using Google account sign-in details. While Gmail cannot be used, users can log in to Huawei’s email app to access their Gmail account.

Which Huawei phones could get Android 11

While nothing has been confirmed yet, but Huawei would be preparing the next version of EMUI or Magic UI soon — We might see EMUI 11 and Magic UI 4.0 based on Android 11 respectively. But it would be Magic UI 4.0 for most devices. If all goes well, Huawei could announce EMUI 11/Magic UI 4.0 during its Huawei Developer Conference 2020 later this year. We can expect EMUI 11/Magic UI 4.0-based Android 11 to feature in the following smartphones:

  • Huawei P40 and P40 Pro (rumored)
  • Huawei Mate 30, Mate 30 Pro, and Mate 30 RS Porsche design
  • Huawei P30 and P30 Pro
  • Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X, and Mate 20 Porsche RS
  • Huawei Mate X
  • Huawei MatePad
  • Huawei MediaPad M6
  • Huawei Nova 6 SE, Nova 6, and Nova 6 5G
  • Huawei Nova 7i
  • Huawei Nova 6
  • Huawei Nova 5, Nova 5T, Nova 5 Pro, Nova 5Z, Nova 5i, and Nova 5i Pro
  • Huawei Enjoy 10, Enjoy 10S, and Enjoy 10 Plus

Which Honor phones could get Android 11

Alongside Huawei devices, Honor phones could also get the Android 11-based Magic UI 4 update. Here’s a list of expected devices to receive the update in the future:

  • Honor V30 and V30 Pro
  • Honor V20
  • Honor 20, 20S and 20 Pro
  • Honor 20 Youth Edition
  • Honor 9X and 9X Pro

Note: The above list of devices expected to receive Android 11 is a forecast-based list, meaning there’s a chance that some devices present in this list won’t make it to the official list of supported devices to be upgraded to Android 11.

Do you own a Huawei or an Honor smartphone? What do you think about HMS and the upcoming EMUI 11 / MagicUI 4 update based on Android 11? Let us know in the comments below. 

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