Huawei phones to ditch Android for its own operating system in 2021

11 Sep 2020

Image: © wachiwit/

Huawei said that its Harmony operating system will be pre-installed on smartphones from next year.

One of the largest smartphone vendors in the world is aiming to become more self-sufficient by putting its own operating system on new devices from next year. According to the BBC, Huawei announced at its ongoing developer conference near Shenzhen that it plans to launch the operating system, called Harmony, on its smartphones from 2021.

HarmonyOS was revealed last year after Huawei was hit by trade restrictions from the US, which left the firm’s ability to use Google’s Android system in question in the long term.

With tensions between the US and Huawei continuing, the company cannot offer Google apps or services on its phones. While this is not an issue in its native China, where Google’s services are blocked, it could seriously undermine Huawei’s ability to sell phones elsewhere in the world.

The updated Harmony operating system, Harmony 2.0, will be available for testing on handsets from December and will formally launch in October 2021.

It will have access to Huawei’s own version of the Google Play Store, Huawei Mobile Services, which will be made available to other phone manufacturers. However, Huawei will soon be offering EMUI 11 – an operating system based on Android 11 – as an alternative for users.

Entering ‘survival mode’

Speaking with the BBC, Marta Pinto of research firm IDC said the decision to push Harmony will be welcomed by the Chinese government as part of its Made in China 2025 strategy.

“But it will only take off elsewhere if other Chinese vendors, such as Xiaomi and Oppo, adopt it,” she said. “Even then, it will still be a challenge in geographies like western Europe and Latin America where so many people and businesses rely on Google’s products.”

IDC recently estimated that by 2021, Android’s global market share will reach 86.1pc, followed by iOS at 13.9pc and others at 0pc, indicating the challenge ahead for Huawei.

US trade restrictions placed on chip manufacturers to stop them selling US tech to Huawei has put significant pressure on the Chinese company’s resources. According to Nikkei Asian Review, Huawei is in “survival mode” as it works to stockpile chips before suppliers are no longer able to deliver components. If Huawei were to run out of these chips, analysts said that its phone shipments could fall by up to 75pc next year.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic