Will Huawei smartphones continue to receive updates?

The temporary agreements between Huawei and American companies, granted by the Trump government, have expired: what will happen now to the updates?

On Thursday, August 13, the "Temporary General License" issued by the U.S. Bureau of Commerce, Industry and Security on May 20, 2019 after Trump's famous ban (and then renewed in August last year) to Huawei to continue working with American companies, including Google, expired. At the moment, then, there is no temporary agreement that allows Huawei to continue its relationship with Big G. What's going on, then?

This question is being asked, even in the U.S., by many: not only owners of Huawei smartphones and tablets but also many rural residents who are customers of local phone companies that use Huawei hardware to provide phone line and data connection to the population. But the situation of the former is different from the latter: everyone is wondering whether Huawei's Android smartphones will continue to receive updates (including security updates) from Google or not. The answer, by the way, is not unambiguous because there could be a difference between Huawei smartphones that were on the market even before Trump's trade ban and those that arrived after.

Huawei smartphones: what's up with updates?

In early 2020, Google officially stated that Trump's ban only affected devices put on sale after the ban itself (i.e. after May 2019), while those sold before did not fall under any ban and can still be updated. Huawei's new smartphones, on the other hand, are fully covered by the ban and, in fact, do not come with Google Mobile Services and have the open source version of Android as their operating system. It's unclear, however, whether the ability to update "pre-ban" devices is tied to the temporary license or is something that will last over time. No small question, because the future of these smartphones goes hand-in-hand with that of the Huawei equipment used to provide connectivity in rural areas of the U.S.

Huawei Connection in Rural Areas

In many rural areas of the U.S., local phone operators use Huawei hardware to offer voice and data connectivity to customers. But this equipment is considered a national security risk by Trump's government, which has therefore ordered its replacement with non-Huawei hardware. However, the government has also planned a public incentive plan to help phone companies buy the new equipment, but the U.S. Congress has not yet allocated the funds. Thus, U.S. phone companies have also been in a kind of limbo since August 13, waiting for new developments.