Huawei launches Mate X folding smartphone without Google apps

Huawei launches Mate X folding smartphone without Google apps due to US sanctions on the company for ‘spying for the Chinese government’

  • The Mate X, which unfolds to 5.8 inches wide, went on sale Friday in China
  • Folding smartphone has no Google apps or US-made processor chips
  • Huawei is under sanctions because the US accuses it of Chinese spying 

Chinese tech giant Huawei is selling its first folding smartphone without Google apps or U.S.-made processor chips following sanctions imposed by Washington.

The Mate X, which unfolds to 5.8 inches wide, went on sale Friday on Huawei´s online store in China priced at 16,999 yuan ($2,422). It competes with Samsung´s Galaxy Fold launched in September.

Huawei Technologies Ltd., China´s first global tech brand, is scrambling to preserve its business following U.S. controls imposed in May on sales of American components and technology to the company, which Washington says is a security risk.

A man holds the new Huawei Mate X foldable 5G smartphone during the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain in February

The company is the No. 2 smartphone behind Samsung Electronics Ltd. and the biggest maker of network gear for phone carriers.

Huawei denies U.S. accusations the company might facilitate Chinese spying. 

The Trump administration is lobbying European and other allies to exclude Huawei equipment as they prepare to upgrade to next-generation telecom networks.

The Mate X uses Huawei’s Kirin 980 and Balong 5000 chipset instead of chips from Qualcomm or other U.S. suppliers. It comes loaded with Chinese alternatives to Google music, maps and other apps.

The screen unfolds to 14.6 centimeters (5.8 inches) by 16.1 centimeters (6.4 inches).

The Mate X went on sale Friday on Huawei’s online store in China priced at 16,999 yuan ($2,422) and competes with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold launched in September

The Mate X uses Huawei’s EMUI 9 operating system, which is based on Google´s Android. 

The company can use the open-source version of Android but if U.S. sanctions are fully enforced, it will lose access to Google´s popular music and other apps, making it harder to compete with Samsung.

American officials say companies will be allowed to sell some products to Huawei but they still are waiting for licenses.

Huawei smartphones sold in China already use local music and other apps because Google services aren’t licensed by Beijing.

The company has yet to announce Mate X sales forecasts or plans to sell it outside China.

Huawei unveiled a smartphone operating system, HarmonyOS, in August that it said can replace Android if necessary. The company says, however, it wants to keep working with American vendors.

Huawei reported earlier sales rose 24.4% in the first nine months of 2019 to 610.8 billion yuan ($86 billion). Its chairman, Liang Hua, warned in July it would “face difficulties” in the second half.

Also this week, Huawei said it would pay bonuses totaling 2 billion yuan ($285 million) to 90,000 employees in chip development and some other units as thanks for helping to cope with U.S. sanctions.

The full 180,000-member workforce also will receive an extra month´s salary, the company said.

Huawei CFO remains under house arrest in Canada on US charges

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, remains under house arrest in Vancouver, Canada pending an extradition request from the U.S. 

Meng, 47, has been detained in Vancouver since December last year. She is charged in the United States with bank fraud, and is accused of misleading HSBC Holdings PLC about Huawei’s business in Iran, which is under U.S. sanctions.

Meng is seen in September at the Vancouver home where she remains under house arrest. She is fighting extradition to the US on charges of deceiving banks

Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition to the United States. 

China detained two Canadian men shortly after police arrested Meng on a U.S. warrant.

Earlier this month, China’s Foreign Ministry urged Canada’s re-elected Liberal Party government to immediately release detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Meng’s electronic monitoring anklet is seen as she attended a court hearing 

Geng Shuang, a spokesman at the ministry, made the comment at a regular news briefing.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals held on to power after an election in October, although it was reduced to a minority government that needs the support in Parliament of a smaller left-leaning party.

Meng’s extradition hearing is set to start on January 20, 2020 with a potential end date in October 2020.

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