Huawei has no plans to launch a Harmony OS-powered phone this year

The company intends to stick with Android unless it's forced off the platform by US sanctions. But a Harmony OS smartwatch is on its way.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read

The unreleased Huawei Mate X that's definitely running Android. 

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Even as Huawei touts the power of its Harmony operating system -- a potential alternative to Android -- the company insists it wants to maintain a single ecosystem and stick with Google's platform. As such, the Chinese telecom equipment and phone maker said it has no plans to launch a Harmony-powered smartphone. 

That's according to Huawei Senior Vice President Vincent Pang, who spoke at a media event in New York on Wednesday. 

"We want to maintain one standard, one ecosystem," Pang said, adding that Harmony would serve as an option B for the company. 

But Harmony serves as a fail-safe if the US opts to enforce a ban that would prevent Huawei from accessing key parts of Android, including Google services like Maps and the Play store. On Monday, the US Commerce Department extended a temporary general license to let Huawei continue doing business with US companies. The company designed the platform, which it touts as cleaner than Android because it has far fewer lines of code, to power other smart products like cars, televisions and watches. 

Huawei, which has been caught up in the broader trade war-fueled tensions between the US and China, is set to unveil a television running its Harmony OS, and Pang said he expects to launch a smartwatch using the platform as well. 

Pang hinted at an upcoming flagship -- widely believed to be the Huawei Mate 30 Pro -- and said it would run Android. If the ban were to be enforced, Huawei would switch to Harmony on its phones , but that move wouldn't happen until the last minute when it was certain that the company would be shut out from Android. 

While Pang said it was unlikely Huawei would launch a Harmony-powered phone, things could change if the ban is upheld. 

"You never know," he said. 

Huawei's reluctance to commit to Harmony OS as a phone operating system isn't a shocker. As a brand new OS that just debuted at the company's developer conference earlier this month, it has virtually no app support. Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart said the company couldn't sell a Harmony OS-powered phone in the Western market because it would lack Google's services -- a deal-breaker for any consumer. 

Correction, Aug. 26 at 6:18 am PT: The spelling of Vincent Pang's name has been fixed.