21/05/2019 8:46 AM IST

Google Huawei Ban: Here's What You Need To Know

The company makes top-selling models including the P30.

Google has suspended some of its ties to crisis-hit Chinese tech firm Huawei, plunging thousands of users into uncertainty.

The US-based search giant has barred Huawei from some future updates of its Android mobile operating system.

Huawei is currently the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, behind Samsung, and the firm uses Google’s Android software on models including the Huawei P30, the Lite version of which sells in Britain for £329.

What has happened?

Google confirmed on Monday that it has blocked Huawei from updating some parts of its Android software used on Huawei phones to comply with a US government order blacklisting the Chinese firm.

Huawei is at the heart of a growing backlash, led by the US, over alleged risks posed by its products within new 5G mobile networks, the BBC reported.

There are concerns that the firm’s tech could be used to conduct surveillance by the Chinese government – but the allegation has been denied by the company, which said it is not linked to Beijing.

But some have dismissed apparent concerns about surveillance as being a part of the US’s ongoing trade war with China – Huawei competes with American firms, including Apple, in the gadget market.

Can you still use your Huawei phone?

Popular Huawei phones include the P30 model.

For current Huawei phone users, little is likely to change. 

But that could be a problem – essential updates to Android software on current Huawei phones may not be available in future.

“Existing Huawei device owners will be significantly impacted,” expert Tristan Rayner said.

“Whether it’s someone with a brand new Huawei P30 Pro, which was unveiled last month, or the owner of an older Huawei Mate device that’s a few years old, it’s now clear that their Android operating system will no longer receive important security updates.”

What’s more, Google apps such as Maps, Gmail and Google Play Store may not appear on Huawei’s future devices.

Instead, Huawei will be reliant on an extremely-limited open-source version of Android that is unlikely to satisfy the demands of the average smartphone user.

Industry analyst Ben Wood from CCS Insight said the cut-off could have “considerable implications” for Huawei’s gadgets business.

“We still don’t have a clear understanding of what Google has told Huawei and what elements of the Android operating system may be restricted, so it remains unclear what the ramifications will be,” he said.

It has been reported for some time that Huawei has been developing its own software to ease its reliance on Google’s code.

Can I return my new Huawei phone?

Kate Bevan, editor of Which? Computing, suggested that some recent purchasers of Huawei devices could consider returning their phones.

“It’s unacceptable for consumers to be left without adequate security on their mobiles and Huawei owners will be seeking urgent reassurance that the safety of their devices will not be compromised,” she said.

“In this situation, your consumer rights are limited as there’s currently nothing faulty with these phones. However, if you purchased a phone in recent weeks it may be worth checking the retailer’s returns policy.”

What has Huawei said?

Huawei has denied that its technology poses any risk to users.

The Chinese company said on Monday that it had “made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world”.

It added that it would “continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those which have been sold or are still in stock globally”.

“We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally,” the company said.

Addressing broader concerns, the firm’s UK chief, Jerry Wang, said last month: “My pledge to Britain is this: if people find flaws with Huawei, we will listen, act and put things right. But criticism must be rooted in evidence and any meaningful dialogue must be based on facts.”