Huawei Mate 30: should you buy it?

You probably already know the answer

Huawei Mate 30
(Image credit: Huawei)

The Huawei Mate 30 Pro is one of the best smartphones in the world, but there's one thing holding it back: It (like the standard Huawei Mate 30) doesn't come bundled with Google Apps and Services. So there's no Google Chrome, no Google Maps, and no Google Play Store — the life and blood of Android. For that reason, we can't see this handset taking off, nor could we recommend it if it was available to order.

We usually reserve judgement until we've had the chance to spend some time with the handset, but we've made an exception here. Why? Because there's just no way a handset lacking access to the estimated 2.7 million applications on the Google Play Store is fit for purpose in 2019. For comparison, the Huawei App Gallery (that's Huawei's Play Store alternative) is home to a mere 45,000. That's incomparable.

It isn't Huawei's fault, though. Had it been allowed, it would have no doubt bundled Google Apps and Services on the Huawei Mate 30 — as it's done with all previous smartphones. However, the Trump Administration's decision to ban local companies from trading with the firm meant it couldn't. As such, it had to adopt the open-source version of Android and start building up a portfolio of resources from scratch.

Believe us, this really, really hurts to see. Both our Editor-in-Chief Paul Douglas and I are still using the Huawei P30 Pro. Part our commitment (hardware aside) stems from being able to edit our Google Docs on the move, fire up Google Maps for directions when we're abroad and download the latest must-play game from the Play Store for the flight back. It's familiar, and that's what exactly consumers want.

Sure, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro has an incredible camera and the most futuristic (flat) screen ever bundled on a smartphone, but what use is that when all of the core features are missing? For example, Netflix isn't available through the Huawei App Gallery. Neither is Spotify. Telegram is missing as well. And there's obviously Google Docs, Google Sheets and the rest of Google's beloved tools can't be accessed, either.

Huawei says that it's working with developers to bring more applications to the Huawei App Gallery, but that won't happen overnight. So by purchasing the Huawei Mate 30 or Huawei Mate 30 Pro, you're betting on Huawei's future — and it's doesn't look bright. Put simply: this is not a device for your average Joe and Jill, who value simplicity and don't want to have to sideload even the most basic of applications.

Sideloading (installing an application manually, thus circumventing the Google Play Store and Huawei App Gallery) has its various disadvantages, too. In addition to being a foreign concept to the ordinary consumer, it's also unsafe. The practice involves tracking down the source file for an application and installing it manually, and most of the time they've been infected with a virus before being shared online.

If Huawei had been able to resolve its differences with the Trump Administration, we would be writing a completely different story right now, but it couldn't. However, we aren't here to dive into the politics of the situation (our sister website TechRadar has done that). Instead, our job is to offer you honest, impartial buying advice, which is: Steer clear of the Huawei Mate 30 and Huawei Mate 30 Pro — for now, at least.

But it's not like you can rush over to Huawei's website and pre-order the brand new Huawei Mate 30 and Huawei Mate 30 Pro, anyway. While the firm detailed how much the duo will cost if they did launch in Europe, it didn't specify where they will launch and when. So there's a chance they will never step foot outside of China. And even if they do, we have no assurances they'd touch down in the United Kingdom.

We'll continue to update this story as the situation develops and as we spend more time with the handset, so please don't for one second think the above opinions are set in stone. They're subject to change in line with how the hardware and software fair up in the real world, how proactive Huawei is at working with developers to bring their applications to the Huawei App Gallery, and how consumers respond.

It's all very strange.

Having spent half a decade writing about the latest news for some of the world’s largest publications, Josh is one of the most recognised reporters in the space. Nowadays, in addition to covering the odd news article, he spends most of his time keeping T3's long-form consumer content up to date, while also researching and reporting on the best deals to help you save some serious scratch.