Huawei without google: can be done- but why should i?

Huawei without Google: can be done – but why should I?

Huawei without Google doesn’t really work well in 2022, but at least a little better than before. Does Huawei deserve a medal for this? No! Does the company still sell smartphones for more than 1000 euros? But yes!

I’m currently working on my review of the Huawei P50 Pro, which you can read this weekend. Of course I had to go through the sad ritual of configuring a Huawei smartphone. Since Huawei is still non grata in the US, Huawei’s phones still have to do without Google Mobile Services and Google’s APIs and DRMs. Since the latter is used by many everyday apps, even in 2022 you still have to improvise with Petal Search and the AppGallery.

But why should I bother with that in the end? To save Huawei’s market share in Europe? I have no particular connection to this manufacturer (or to any of its competitors, fanboys, take note!). Or because Google is evil and Huawei, if HarmonyOS ever comes out, will be an alternative to GAFAM and Android? Can I have a quick laugh, please?

And although a large majority of you no longer consider Huawei relevant, there must still be a fan base. A fan base strong enough that Huawei still dares to launch overpriced 4G flagships in 2022 – and somehow manages to find distributors who sell them.

But who are these people? Are you aware of the embargo? Are they technically savvy? I would so love to talk to one of them. But that is perhaps a topic for another article. In the meantime, I urgently want to get something off my chest here:

Yes, you can live with a Huawei smartphone without Google services

Before I continue with my pamphlet, let’s get to the only somewhat objective part of this article. In fact, you can definitely use a Huawei smartphone without Google services in 2022 without it catching fire immediately or you automatically joining the Chinese Communist Party.

Seriously, I already reported on this in great detail last year in my review of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro. And this year, the manufacturer has built on these good foundations without changing much. And I must admit that it is usable. N-U-T-Z-B-A-R, I said – not "optimal", "smoothly" or "normal"!

  • More about life without Google services: EMUI 11 in test

Phone Clone lets you transfer most of your data to your new Huawei smartphone. You can get most apps that are not available in the AppGallery in the form of "PWAs" Install, which are mostly simple links to the web version. For the rest, use the search tool Petal Search and download the APK files.

Another option is to use the third party application GSpace. The app lets you create a kind of virtual machine on the smartphone that is compatible with GMS and allows you to access the Play Store and download Google apps (or third-party apps) like Gmail. Then you simply add a shortcut to the GSpace app, which in turn contains the shortcut to the app you want to access. It is so intuitive, isn’t it?

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My home screen on the left is normal – and I have almost all the apps I use on a normal Android smartphone. / © NextPit

I ask YOU: Why are you so stubborn??

But the fact that Huawei works without Google doesn’t bother me personally. Do we want to praise a manufacturer for making us manually reinstall APKs and shortcuts, but wrapping these inconveniences in beautiful animations and confirmation screens instead? Really?!

This is a real question I am asking you, because I personally have already made my choice. And my choice is not to buy a Huawei smartphone. It’s like if the delivery guy forgets your fries or drink and delivery guy offers you a credit for it.

No, I do not want credit! I want the product I spent my hard-earned money on. Turning the tables, no merchant in the world would deliver their product or service if you didn’t go to checkout. When I buy a smartphone for 1000 euros or more, I find the idea that I have to tinker around, poke around in forums and watch tutorials on Youtube unbearable – and all that to install an app.

And it’s not just this lack of intuitiveness that causes me problems. Take Netflix for example: the Huawei smartphone doesn’t have Google’s Widevine L1 DRM (a digital rights management tool to prevent content duplication). Without this DRM, you won’t be able to watch your streaming video content in HD. On a phone for THOUSAND EURO!

APKs are a great solution to fix problems. And I know you could talk about the risks associated with downloading APKs via unreliable sources, which Huawei, by the way, makes itself completely free of. But personally, I’m not particularly worried about this, since I only download APKs of popular apps from recognized stores. On the other hand, when it comes to automatic updates, you can sit back.

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"Petal Search is not responsible for third-party content" – doesn’t sound very reassuring. / © NextPit.


Yes, I’ll say it again because it’s true and I can’t deny it: Huawei works without Google. I have not encountered insurmountable obstacles. Only the use of Google Pay or Google Maps is impossible. But that doesn’t mean Huawei should be patted on the back and congratulated on this achievement.

If the Huawei P50 Pro or P50 Pocket were cheaper than their competitors, I could do the mental gymnastics necessary to make that tradeoff. Or if I had any hope that Huawei would be a great long-term alternative, and that this compromise would be temporary. Then I would have accepted it as well, as I did last year with the Mate 40 Pro.

But we have to face the facts. Huawei has not replaced Google, the smartphones run on Android 11, which has been largely stripped of its substance. And the pricing policy, even more so for 4G smartphones, is downright outrageous in my eyes.

This is not to question the undeniable qualities of smartphones – for example in photography. But as a consumer, you can’t just divide the user experience like that. I’m a tech journalist who doesn’t buy any of the phones I tested. As such, I cannot recommend the products of a brand that offers a worse experience than the competition at similar or even higher prices.

If you still believe in Huawei smartphones without Google, then you’re welcome to it. But without me! See you in the comments section below a NextPit tutorial. That tutorial where we explain how to sync your email and contacts without having to install five APKs. Or not.

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