back to article If you're appy and you know it: The Huawei P40 Pro conclusively proves that top-notch specs aren't everything

For over a month, I've immersed myself in Huawei's latest flagship blower: the P40 Pro. Not only does it represent the pinnacle in Huawei's R&D efforts, but it's also indicative of another thing: a schism in how Android works. In May last year, the Trump Administration placed crushing sanctions on Huawei, preventing it from …

  1. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger are nowhere to be seen

    Nor are the usual bachelor staples of Uber Eats and Deliveroo

    Sounds good so far. If they can guarantee Zoom will never work, I'm buying one for the lockdown.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger are nowhere to be seen

      Saves a lot of time disabling all the Google stuff on a regular Android phone.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger are nowhere to be seen

      Sounds like the ideal phone for my retirement, when I will be able to do without Google and just live my own life.

      Waiting to see how all this evolves in the next ten years.

    3. Colombian 75

      Re: Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger are nowhere to be seen

      How come I have them on my P40 Pro. No issues after almost a month.

  2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Stop

    Google apps etc. via browser?

    What's to stop you logging in to Google's apps via whatever browser they've included?

    1. Julz Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Google apps etc. via browser?

      But, but, then it's not an app. It's gotta be an app.

    2. ragnar

      Re: Google apps etc. via browser?

      Google maps via the mobile browser is pretty dire. Can't speak to the rest.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Google apps etc. via browser?

        YouTube on Safari is worse than abysmal. It's so bad now that I've basically given up watching videos on my iPad. (Not going to use the app because AdBlock Plus.)

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Google apps etc. via browser?

          "YouTube on Safari is worse than abysmal."

          It works absolutely fine. If it doesn't work on your iPad, the issue might be your iPad.

          1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
            Joke

            Re: Google apps etc. via browser?

            He's holding it wrong?

          2. Def Silver badge

            Re: Google apps etc. via browser?

            So, it does appear they've made some improvements since I last tried it. (Always happy to be proven wrong.)

            When they first changed to the new look about six months ago it was pretty much completely broken on Safari. I had to go back to reading books. It was a nightmare. ;)

            It's still a lot more sluggish than it was before, but that's "progress" for you, I guess (and my iPad is rather old now too, so I won't complain too much about that).

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: Google apps etc. via browser?

              Your experience is your experience, but YouTube in the browser runs flawlessly on our iPad Pro from 2015 and always has done. And given my wife's ability to complain about anything that doesn't load IMMEDIATELY, I'm pretty confident that if there was a problem, I'd know about it.

              If yours is experiencing problems, the first thing I'd look at is the battery. When max capacity drops under 80%, the iPad will slow down to avoid crashes.

        2. teknopaul Silver badge

          Re: Google apps etc. via browser?

          No phone but the iPhone has its browser crippled.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Google apps etc. via browser?

            ”iPhone has its browser crippled.“

            How exactly?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What's to stop you logging in to Google's apps via whatever browser they've included?

      that's 5 clicks versus 2. Do you know how many years of productive work (never mind the rest of your lifespan "before work" and "after work") humanity saves by using 2-click app v. 5-click-browsers?! ;)

      1. James Anderson Silver badge

        Re: What's to stop you logging in to Google's apps via whatever browser they've included?

        Yet people (probably you) spend 30 minutes plus commuting to work an 10 minutes plus cuing for the till at the cheaper supermarket. Really what’s three extra clicks.

  3. OopsAgain

    Flashy

    Surely they will make it easy to flash to a different android OS and then activate everything?

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Flashy

      Is there any reason you couldn't just sideload?

    2. Weiss_von_Nichts

      Re: Flashy

      Have you ever had a look at F-Droid? Pre-installed Google apps used to be the main thing that kept you from using Android without Google watching you. Storebought Android without Google stuff looks like just the thing I have been looking for.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Flashy

        Oh, it looked like that to me too. I prefer my phones ungoogled, which I mostly get via Lineage OS. So having a manufacturer that doesn't include the Google layer...it sounded like quite the helpful approach. I wouldn't have to wait for a device to become supported. I wouldn't have to build the image myself. I wouldn't get the choices I get with Lineage OS. Uh-oh.

        There's the rub. I want Google off my phone because I like the certainty that I'm not being tracked by software I don't have control over. Huawei has removed the Google-specific layer. They have instead added their own layer, and I can't trust it, and I can't remove it. All I have now is two choices for whose untrusted and unverifiable software is preloaded. I will have to go to similar lengths to get rid of it, but unlike certain phones that ship with Google's apps preinstalled (Xiaomi's devices, for example), I have little hope that Huawei will ever let me reflash it. Why should I consider this a benefit? Code that I didn't want and can't trust, but would be generally useful if I had to use it has been removed and replaced with code I still don't want and can't trust but is by most reviews less useful.

    3. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Flashy

      If Huawei were serious they would unlock the bootloader completely, and sell the phones with instructions for installing LineageOS, or similar.

      After that the user can install what they want, including Open Gapps.

  4. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo

    In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

    .. that would be a non issue.

    Well, at least this may prompt people to ask themselves about alternatives to google's services. You know, there are other apps out there. Since it uses an open-source Android, you can always side-load apps from reputable app stores. Oh, I wish I my smartphone would work the same as my computers. Full choice, no walled gardens.

    1. janusng

      Re: In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

      Were you one of the two people bought a HTC Windows Mobile?

      How many apps in your full choice installed? 2? 3?

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

        I had NokiaWinphone. Best OS out there.

        So much so the others ripped off some of the features.

        Best feature was Bluetooth profile switching.

        Get into the car and the home screen would completely redesign with huge icons for Maps, Music etc. In fact cortana actually had a use in the car as you could ""phone" cortana, pull up Here Maps (still the best Navigation system) and navigate....all without removing my hand from the steering wheel.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

          I went from 520 to 1020 to 950XL. Still have the 520. Every time I use my Android phone, I wish I could go back.

          WinPho was strangely hated by so many, but now we have a dull duopoly, we're all starting to miss MS.

          1. TheRealRoland
            Coat

            Re: In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

            Wait, you mean to tell me that mergers do not increase competitiveness and innovation?

          2. aks Bronze badge

            Re: In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

            Microsoft 950XL is still my phone and it works extremely well.

            HERE maps are fine. They've been adopted by car manufacturers, so they have a lot of support.

            My Mail app allows me to joint to each of my email providers through POP3 or IMAP, so there's no problem. There will be a huge number of apps available from various stores. China will make sure of that. The China market alone will convince app authors to place their products there, as well as in Google and Apple stores. Should be an easy port to another Android. The necessary libraries will become available with familiar API's.

            The author of this article seems to expect everything to look exactly the same as Google's offering.

          3. /\/\j17

            Re: In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

            Think I lasted 1 day on Android before installing the Square Home launcher to get some of the WinPho UI usability back!

            1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

              Re: In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

              "I feel you", nothing can really replace the hole that was WinPhone.

        2. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

          Re: In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

          Microsoft sucks!

          No, seriously. They fuck up everything good they have.

          I use iOS now and there things I miss from Windows including the keyboard (swipe works better than SwiftKey), I miss being able to search contacts in the "Dialer app" using the numbers (e.g pressing 3-2-3 would search for "dad"), HERE maps was good, and plenty of other stuff.

          Sucky McSuckFace sucks, for fucks sake.

      2. seldom

        Re: In a world, where smartphones aren't shitty PCs

        I was one,who else bought one? It still works fine

  5. vagabondo
    Linux

    If you are desperate for Mountain Views spyware

    what is stopping you installing the open source Aurora Store app, which acts as a Play Store proxy?

    It does sound like it is worth considering for someone who wants a phone without too muchbloat and spyware.

    1. janusng

      Re: If you are desperate for Mountain Views spyware

      Dyslexia?

      "Other apps rely heavily on APIs in Google Mobile Services. And that means that even if you're able to transfer them over to the P40 Pro, you'll likely end up with an experience that's ultimately crippled, or fails to run entirely."

      1. Adair Silver badge

        Re: If you are desperate for Mountain Views spyware

        I use Aurora on Lineage. Almost all my installed apps come via F-Droid, but the few that come through Aurora work fine - apart from one banking app (Natwest). My other three banking apps all just work, although some of them, and one or two other apps, complain that they can't find Google Services - they still work.

        Whether Huawei's Android is even more disconnected from Google than Lineage, I wouldn't know, but for what it's worth loading apps via Aurora is mostly a non-issue.

        Just make sure you choose the 'Anonymous' option.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: If you are desperate for Mountain Views spyware

          Natwest's app will tell you where the nearest branch or cash machine is if you ask it. On iOS, it uses Apple Maps. Presumably on Android it uses Google Maps. Some other banking apps have that feature too.

          A lot of transport apps to point you to the nearest station / bus stop.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: If you are desperate for Mountain Views spyware

          I'm glad that works for you. I've used it as well, although not that often. My experience has been less reliable. Some apps work perfectly. Some are tagged as GSF-dependent but also seem to work fine, but I'm just waiting for a problem. Many others that have been tried work only to request their permissions, then keel over. For me, that's almost always fine. I rarely need an app urgently, and I can usually find an alternative. Also, I know what is happening. I don't think the general public is in a similar situation. If their experience of using a client such as this, assuming someone installs it for them, is that half the apps they want* crash immediately, they won't be that impressed. That would restrict the market for Huawei devices outside of China to two small subsets of the population: 1) Technical people who probably don't want Google anyway and know how to get around it and 2) people who just don't use many apps.

          *The estimate of half is quite rough, but I think it's actually higher. Many in the public are big users of social media apps or games, and I think both are likely to make heavy use of Google's APIs. I haven't done a test because I use neither category.

      2. Chet Mannly

        Re: If you are desperate for Mountain Views spyware

        "you'll likely end up with an experience that's ultimately crippled, or fails to run entirely"

        What is that statement based on what exactly? My phone has all google stuff stripped out. Just installed Aurora store and proceeded as normal. Both of my banking apps work fine, Whatsapp works fine too.

        Any app that gave errors worked fine in any browser you like. Most "apps" are just wrappers on websites anyway. Firefox lets you put shortcuts on your home screen so it's barely any different to an app.

  6. sabroni Silver badge

    reviewer uses Google extensively

    Can we get a review from someone who doesn't like sending all their data to Google? For those of us who never install apps and use YouTube by going to the YouTube website....

    "Google user disappointed with Google free phone" would be a more accurate headline.

    1. Zolko

      Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

      Exactly my thoughts: a Google-(ab)using Lemming is surprised that a Google-free device doesn't work well for him

      "I pay for things with Google Pay [...] audio is immediately uploaded to Google Drive [...] notes in Google Docs, and use Gmail [...] Google Maps to lead the way."

      I use none of these. Ever. The Google-Apps on my phone are quarantined, blocked, non-updated .... as much as I practically can. If TheRegister so wishes, I can do a much better and more useful test-review of this device.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

        Any extreme reviewer is ridiculous - a review by someone who does not use Google/Youtube is equally niche.

        >> If TheRegister so wishes, I can do a much better and more useful test-review of this device.

        So no you can't. Your definition is 'better' to a niche ultra-minority. Certainly not enough of an audience to keep theregister afloat.

      2. oiseau Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

        I use none of these. Ever. The Google-Apps on my phone ...

        I had a smartphone once, a few years ago.

        Being security conscious and new to Android, the first thing I did was read up, root it and install a third party monitoring programme to see what was going on.

        Once I realised what the installed/downloaded applications were up to everytime I used one, I decided to get rid of it.

        Unfortunately, available options are becoming less and less.

        Damn, all I want is a fucking phone, if possible without a camera.

        ie: one that works always/everywhere, has a long battery life and if I want to, have email, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a decent/updateable browser and can sync with a decent desktop application (obviously non-MS).

        It should also be easily repaired without having to pay through the nose.

        But it seems that it is too much to ask these days.

        O.

        1. Cederic Silver badge

          Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

          Yes, because you're part of a market segment that's too small to profitably target.

          Almost everybody else wants a camera on their phone. People don't want to sync with a desktop application, MS or otherwise, they want to access Facebook and post photographs to their friends.

          They want a small elegant device that works as well as it looks, that's affordable and reliable. Good luck meeting all of those requirements without using glue.

          Perhaps you should investigate the Light Phone. It's small, elegant and lets you make phone calls.

        2. Paul 75

          Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

          Have you checked out the reissued/updated Nokia 3310?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

          "... one that works always/everywhere, has a long battery life and if I want to, have email, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a decent/updateable browser and can sync with a decent desktop application (obviously non-MS)."

          Had this been posted a few years ago, I would have suggested a BlackBerry phone.

          Designing a phone that caters to the needs of all people would result in something that is akin to The Homer car from The Simpsons. As consumers, we often have to convince ourselves that what we are being marketed is what we want (e.g., a phone without a headphone plug, expandable storage, or replaceable battery).

        4. eionmac

          Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

          Doro will suit you. Seniors Phone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

      I'm pretty sure the tone of this review was (an extensive) clickbait. And it works, again! :)

    3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

      > For those of us who never install apps and use YouTube by going to the YouTube website

      And if you *do* want an app for that, install NewPipe from the F-Droid repository instead!

    4. whitepines Silver badge

      Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

      Can we get a review from someone who doesn't like sending all their data to Google?

      Seconded. I go out of my way to avoid and confuse Google's slurp machine already, and it sounds like this might be a perfect phone to use with Lineage, but I'd need to know if it's available with an unlocked bootloader or not.

      How about phone reviews for both the Google lemming masses and the more tech-savvy, privacy-conscious crowd? Bonus points to use something like Nextcloud as the backend cloud storage instead of anything Google/Microsoft/Huawei!

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

        Unless they changed their mind yesterday, the bootloader is locked and I haven't seen anyone successfully break it. So if you get this, you have to accept the Huawei flavor of non-Googled AOSP. That's why I'm not that excited about this--I dislike Google too, but I don't see much benefit in running equally unwanted Huawei code.

        1. whitepines Silver badge

          Re: reviewer uses Google extensively

          Have an upvote for the info. I completely agree on this -- it's not acceptable for Google to do it, and it's also not acceptable for Huawei to do it. Everyone wants to sell that juicy data instead of just selling decent hardware; of all firms you'd think Huawei might understand the distinction, but apparently not!

  7. Jedit
    Joke

    "Can we get a review from someone who doesn't like sending all their data to Google?"

    Well, I tried a Huawei phone but returned it because the reception was poor and the mobile data kept dropping out. The Chinese government couldn't understand - they said they received everything perfectly.

    Joking aside: if you want a phone that doesn't send your data to someone, then don't buy a smartphone. Because your data *is* going to someone; your choice is who.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: "Can we get a review from someone who doesn't like sending all their data to Google?"

      Run Lineageos - then all your data only goes to Richard Stallman

  8. Steve Todd Silver badge

    People don’t buy hardware

    They buy software, and something to run the software on. Any machine or platform that doesn’t run the software the public wants is bound to fail, which is why Microsoft succeeded with Windows and Apple gained second place (due to targeting an affluent niche in the form of the creative and publishing businesses).

    Windows phone failed for precisely the same reason (decent enough hardware, but it was third choice for mobile devs as the demand was mostly for Android and iOS apps). It’s a virtuous circle - more machines attracts more devs who write more software which attracts more users who buy more machines.

  9. DrXym Silver badge

    Chocolate teapot

    Apps are a primary reason people have a smart phone. Maybe Huawei will run its own app store with some prominent apps on there but we've seen countless times before that app vendors won't bother with alternate app stores unless they are paid money to compensate for the bother, time and effort of doing so.

    I suppose it wouldn't be too bad if the bootloader was unlocked so at least people could flash it with LineageOS but it isn't. Huawei should be making it easy for people to flash their devices and get Google apps on there through a sidechannel because if they don't they're dead in the water.

    1. Jolyon Ralph

      Re: Chocolate teapot

      You're all forgetting one big thing. Huawei's biggest market is (surprise surprise) the domestic China market, who have been living very well without Google Apps for years now.

      Yes, it's irritating for them that they're not able to configure these phones now to the general tastes of the Western market, but they are surely playing the long game here.

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        Re: Chocolate teapot

        "Playing the long game" — Not like they have a choice.

        1. Uffish

          Re: "the long game"

          True that Huawei didn't have much choice in the matter but that's not the point. The point is that Huawei has played the hand it was dealt competently and with no lasting damage. Now what happens?

          Anyone want to help Trump build a trade wall round China? It could all get a bit tedious. The long game is in China's interest not ours.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: "the long game"

            Nope. The American government has no money, and since Trump it's also becoming less trustworthy. (Than China. Let that sink in.) Even Boris - American-born firm Americaphile personally backed by Trump - when forced to make a choice, went China.

            This is what a crumbling empire looks like. At this point I doubt if Trump could successfully orchestrate a trade boycott against Fiji, never mind China.

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Chocolate teapot

        Take the app for my local bus operator as an example. The number of downloads isn't huge compared to say Facebook or Twitter, but around 1/4 of the population of the area served have downloaded the Android version. I can't find numbers for the iOS version, but based on market share, I would expect it to be slightly higher; so about half the population use the app. This is likely to be much the same around the country, except with different apps which individually have low numbers.

      3. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Chocolate teapot

        I have no idea what they do in China but I expect they pair up with Baidu or someone like that. The point being that Baidu is equivalent to Google over there and if a phone shipped without Baidu then it would be as useless as this is.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Chocolate teapot

      People don't really care about the 'apps'

      It's the functionality they want, presented in an easy to grok, easy to use fashion.

      Apps are merely a convenient presentation that also serves to lock users into a particular product.

      The greater IT world has so far failed to serve up a delivery that doesn't benefit one conglomerate.

      We should be on a common browser base platform and some form of webapp. It'd open up more competition and innovation and providing services wouldn't involve upkeep of several app codebases.

      I really can't believe it's 2020 and we're still stuck on apps and much the same theatre as the desktop MS or apple except it's Google or apple.

      We've learnt nothing and are going round and round in circles, repeating history.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Chocolate teapot

        People don't care about apps? If that were the case then phones powered by FirefoxOS, Tizen, Windows Phone, BlackberryOS etc. would be a roaring success. After all, these were all functional phones, except for the selection of apps of course.

        And it's fine to say "if only there were a common platform", but that's not the reality of the phone landscape. If one phone has no apps and all the others do, then guess which one everyone buys...

      2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Chocolate teapot

        "It's the functionality they want..."

        But the functionality they want is to join Whatsapp or Zoom conversations and to (apparently) access Google Drive natively and all the other functionality apps provide...

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Chocolate teapot

      I've got a Fire Tablet from Amazon because it was dirt cheap in a Black Friday sale. It's a forked version of Androi and comes without Google Play etc. I've never opened the Amazon App store on there since I got it. Instead I copied Google Play and mobile services etc. off my Samsung Android phone and installed from APKs. I can now load anything off the Play store that takes my fancy. Admittedly I've also installed a no root firewall to prevent Amazon spyware and bloatware from communicating with whoever. I mostly use it to play Bejeweled, Word Puzzles etc. and watch Amazon Prime.

  10. tiggity Silver badge

    Wonder if the quoted excellent battery life

    .. is down to not running all the normal Google "background" stuff that's typically whirring away on an android phone.

    More seriously, how about a follow up to show how possible (or not) it was for reviewer to get a recent version of android onto the phone (there are hints its possible in the article) - and then see how well battery & camera then perform too! Because if a user was addicted to the Google ecosystem on android then surely they would want to try and get it added to the phone

    1. lybad

      Re: Wonder if the quoted excellent battery life

      The issue here is that for quite a while, Huawei have not released codes for unlocking the bootloader. Plus they also use their own chip designs, so it's generally not easy to get something like LineageOS on to them.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Wonder if the quoted excellent battery life

        > Huawei have not released codes for unlocking the bootloader

        And right there is why I wouldn't buy one. I need a rooted phone to run things like my garage door app, which needs access to turn the GPS & cell data on/off as necessary.

    2. EddieD

      Re: Wonder if the quoted excellent battery life

      I have a Mate 20 Pro (great phone btw) which has the Google stuff on, and I know I'm a light user, but it goes 3 days before dropping to 30% charge, in normal mode.

      Huawei seem to have got the knack for switching things off and on in the background.

  11. TheProf Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Period pains

    "I'd even go so far as to say it's the best camera I've used on a smartphone, period, with the P40 Pro producing shots that are razor-sharp and boast exquisite colour-fidelity."

    If you're going to use North Americanisms, and there's no reason why you shouldn't, at least follow the convention and STOP writing when you use the word PERIOD.

  12. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Stop

    Definition of lock-in

    I pay for things with Google Pay. When I interview industry folk, the audio is immediately uploaded to Google Drive for safekeeping. I write most of my notes in Google Docs, and use Gmail to access my various email accounts. If I need to drive somewhere unfamiliar, I rely on Google Maps to lead the way.

    Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket!

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Definition of lock-in

      Or all you mivonks on Googles feckless grasp.

  13. oiseau Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Consequences

    ... with Google's services inevitably playing an outsized role.

    Inevitably?

    No, it's your doing.

    You (and many millions) have chosen to make it inevitable.

    After all ...

    It is so convenient!

    And so cooooool!

    It seems you may have finally come to realise the outsized role Google has in your everyday life, yes?

    You're probably a bright chap (after all, you write here), so you've surely grasped that there are consequences to be had from this overbearing presence of Google and it's services in your personal and professional activities.

    eg: just how much it will cost you the day Google decides it's presence and all their services are no longer free, cheap or an option: that you have to use them in order to be able to communicate, work, partake in commerce or just plain exist.

    No?

    I think you should reflect on that.

    Because it's coming.

    O.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Consequences

      >It seems you may have finally come to realise the outsized role Google has in your everyday life, yes?

      I suspect it hit them like a brick...

      It has taken the Huawei P40 to make the reviewer realise that what they thought was "Android" isn't Android at all, but Google services.

      A few years back people talked about walled gardens - mostly with respect to Apple and Microsoft, it seems Google has quietly over the years turned "Android" into a walled garden without people noticing too much.

  14. deive

    Seems a bit of a shame they went it alone though, rather than something like https://e.foundation/eos-degoogled-phones/

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just add "APK" to your searches

    Add APK to his searches and he can download most apps directly from the app provider themselves.

    So for example, every Firefox mobile browser is here:

    http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mobile/releases/

    The tablet I got from Huawei had Here-maps on it, which is the offline navigation app I always use anyway in the car. It's way better for offline use.

    The messaging app we I is Line, its APK is from its website:

    https://line.me/en/download

    The problem you have, is you have a Google infrastructure based lifestyle. A walled garden. Your stuff is inside.

    When you're dealing with a Google based Android device, you'll quickly realize how bad they are. Try replacing Chrome with Firefox on a stock Android 9 device, you will not be allowed to download Firefox on Chrome without first agreeing to Google's spyware terms.

    If you download it separately on a PC, copy it across, then try to use the stock File manager to install it, you'll be required to accept Google's spyware as a condition first of running their file manager!

    You may think "we'll I'll say 'yes' and then turn it off later", no, once you've agreed, you can see the regular data packets heading off the Google no matter what you do. You cannot uninstall Google Play Services, you cannot turn off the core location tracking it sends even if you select 'gps only'.

    How to fix this: turn on developer mode, be a developer, open a terminal to the Android 9 device, use the terminal to install Firefox APK using adb, now change the settings on firefox to "can install software". Then download and install the software you want using Firefox.

    Now you have an Android phone that you never consented to let Google have its spyware shit on. Notice that it still has Google spyware shit on it, fire up Wireshark and watch it still sending off your data to the Googleplex, because they don't give a shit, it was never really consented spying.

    I don't use Google products and to me, Google Play Services firing up and sending off data, which I never consented irks me enormously. I would have to root and find an alternative distro to strip off their unwanted shit.

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Just add "APK" to your searches

      Or just use a no root firewall and block those apps, even Google ones from sending stuff to the outside world. You can see where the app is trying to connect to and allow certain websites or IP addresses as well either globally or just per app. For example I looked at a replacement for AIX the excellent weather widget a while ago. This had stopped working which was a shame as it really suits me. I found one and it had more bells and whistles than AIX. So on a spare phone that is devoid of any personal info I downloaded it. I set it up selected where I was and that I wanted to use the Norwegian Metrological Institution as my data source. I then allowed it to connect to the wifi network to see if it attempted to contact the NMI. Not once overnight did it attempt to do so, various other IP addresses were contacted but not the NMI. I gave up and went back to AIX which mercifully was working again.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I pay for things with Google Pay. When I interview industry folk, the audio is immediately uploaded to Google Drive for safekeeping. I write most of my notes in Google Docs, and use Gmail to access my various email accounts. If I need to drive somewhere unfamiliar, I rely on Google Maps to lead the way."

    Sounds like Google Poser speak to me, much the same as IThingy speak.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Yandex. Fully featured apps. Professional. Look slick. They run their own chromiun fork thats always been better looking than chrome. Very similar approach to Goolgle in terms of spyware. I prefer to have the Ruskies spying on me than the Yanks. Its easy to ignore Yandex ads, they are in russian.

      I dont need maps to go from the sofa to the fridge but when I next doYandex maps looks good too.

  17. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    A pretty good case study for what happens when you actually try to use an Android device without allowing it to monetise you. Even if you've removed all the dataslurping phone-home bollocks, you're still pretty much tied to Google services to do anything useful with it. And using Google services means you become the product.

    Sure, it might be technically possible to disable absolutely everything that wants to sell you/your data, but you're left with a beautiful, useless brick if you do.

  18. Barleyman

    The power of Geek to rescue

    Anything stopping the journo from side-loading Google play store and the associated services? This was pretty standard operation while I was messing with mystery Chinese tablets. You have to download some APK files and run them on your phone. Easy enough if a bit of a hassle and you have to allow side-loading first. No rooting or other tricks needed.

    First the Google account manager:

    https://www.apkmirror.com/apk/google-inc/google-account-manager/

    Then the Google Services framework, just pick correct android version (10):

    https://www.apkmirror.com/apk/google-inc/google-services-framework/

    You also need the services package. This is more problematic because there are about a million versions.

    kirin SOC uses ARM64 core so you need to pick that variant for Android 10

    https://www.apkmirror.com/apk/google-inc/google-play-services/

    And finally the play store itself:

    https://www.apkmirror.com/apk/google-inc/google-play-store/

    Use your favourite file browser and run the apk files in order downloaded. Reboot phone and Google services should work just like the "real" thing, keeping themselves up to date etc.

    Fiddly? Yes. Worth it? Definitely if you don't like avoiding Google stuff to show you're different and/or bought new Huawei phone without knowing what you signed up for. This same process works with Kindle Fire but you need to pick different versions of the files (no ARM64).

  19. lsces

    Aad if you don't use Google Crap ...

    My problem has always been NOT wanting the machine crippled by the google bloat when I have perfectly acceptable alternatives. OSMAnd replaces Maps, and other real open source apps provide email, browser and the stuff that run THE SAME as those on my Linux desktop ...

  20. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Excellent review

    If I was in the market for a smartphone (which I'm not) I now know which phone to get to avoid all the Google and Apple slurpage, along with the American snoops of course. To the best of my knowledge we don't have a one-sided extradition treaty with China so I won't have to worry about being snatched away for some bizarre manufactured offence.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As Eliza Doolittle would say,

    All I want

    Is talk and SMS

    Far away from the FaceTwit page

    With one enormous battery

    Now wouldn't that be luverly.

    How much does the LightPhone cost then? $299? "Not bloody likely"!

  22. Lorribot Bronze badge

    So someone who buys in to Google and its ecosystem in a big way does not like a phone without the Google fix. Big surprise.

    Would be interesting to see what an iPhone user thinks of an Android phone without added Google. Yes teh store is an irritation but to be honest that is minor thing and fixable, the App owners don't even need to re-write their apps to work with it, if Huwawi can get some traction in its own market it will happen as who can afford to ignore such a big market, then you will have a credible competitor to Googles control of Android and somewhere for the Google haters to go that is not Apple.

    I daresay a Linage port will also turn up soon enough.

    The one good thing Trump is good at is shooting himself in the foot.

  23. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Slightly expandable memory

    It's odd that Huawei still uses Nano Memory cards in new phones. They're expensive, a bit slow, and there's nothing bigger than 128GB. I think a high-end phone with 512GB or 1TB storage is justifiable if it means no longer needing a personal laptop.

  24. Colombian 75

    iPhone Killer

    I've been using it for almost a month and I love it. The build quality is second to none. Camera is excellent, much better than Pixel and iPhone. Also, I was able to import 90% of my apps using phone clone. The only reason our government is trying to block Huawei is because they see how good Huawei is and don't want to loose our dominance on the mobile market.

  25. JaiHamilton88

    just received my p40 pro today and i must say i'm very impressed. hHardware wise as expected is outstanding but software wise i'm surprised by as everything runs amazingly and i haven't really found any issues regarding apps since it doesn't have google. Ive used petal search to find pretty much all of what i need, the only thing i've had to do is shortcut google photos to desktop but going forward i'm just going to utilise the benefit of their Huawei cloud.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's almost as the "journalist" was deliberately making out that the phone is difficult to use as a result of the restrictions, ie just toeing the US government line.

    And yet, judging by the comments, all the techies here think the "limitations" are actually an improvement.

    Well that backfired. LOL

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