Chinese Giant Ditches Android OS

John Lister's picture

Chinese phone maker Huawei says its making a rival to Android that will be "up to 60 percent faster." The problem is it will be missing many key Google applications.

Huawei started work on the new mobile operating system after an executive order from the US President that limits American companies supplying the Chinese company, something said to relate to security concerns.

Following the order, Google announced it would no longer supply Huawei with new editions of Android or security updates for the existing system. While it could still use Android, which is an open source system, it would be far behind its rivals in offering the latest features and could put users at greater risk of security exploits.

President Trump later said he'd allow US sales to Huawei, but the Department of Commerce has yet to make that official. Huawei has a temporary license from Google set to expire in August.

New System "Ultra Fast"

Instead, Huawei is making its own phone operating system which appears to be called Hong Meng, though that may be a mistranslation. The company's chief Ren Zhengfei says the system will take less than five milliseconds to process data. (Source:

He also said the operating system will work on multiple devices from phones and routers to gadgets such as printed circuit boards and even autonomous vehicles. Huawaei is already in talks with other Chinese phone manufacturers to let them use the new system.

Zhengfei says that biggest limitation for the Hong Meng system is that it won't have access to Google Maps, Gmail or the mobile Chrome browser - but it will have its own app store.

Chief Dismisses Security Concerns

In theory, lower production costs in China could mean Huawei is able to offer cheap handsets running the new system to foreign markets. However, security concerns and the lack of Google support could be a serious disincentive to Western users.

In a separate interview, Zhengfei dismissed claims that Huawei was unduly under the control of the Chinese government and insisted he'd "rather die" than pass on user data to the government. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Are you surprised Huawei is abandoning Android? Would you be interested in using the new system if it meant cheaper handsets? How important is accessing Google apps to you?

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Dennis Faas's picture

With China's track record of hacking and mass surveillance of its people, you would really have to give it a good think before using one of these devices.

My first smartphone was made by manufacture "Blu," which is located in Florida, but it's phones are made in China. Compared to other brands, it was very reasonably priced, attractive looking, and had decent specs. In 2018 it was revealed that many of the Blu phones - including the one I owned - incorporated Chinese spyware that actively 'phoned home' to China servers. This spyware cannot be deleted.

Just last week there was an article published by the Guardian which stated that if you travel to China (in certain areas), border security will install spyware on your phone in order to "harvest personal data" - even if you're a tourist.

If that doesn't spell mass surveillance, I don't know what does!

PseudoGeek's picture

I don't trust Chinese tech firms, but would like to have an option to select which Google apps I want and get rid of the others. I suppose I could root my phone and tablet but I'm scared that I'll screw it up and have unusuable devices. Plus I really don't know if that would accomplish what I want to do. Anyone have experiences good or bad with rooting Android tablets and phones in order to delete unwanted Google apps?

JimBo's picture

"Zhengfei dismissed claims that Huawei was unduly under the control of the Chinese government", definitely a false claim. If the Chinese Government does or doesn't is irrelevant because, in their form of governance, leaders assume supreme control and can do as they wish at will. He is required to follow directions or suffer serious consequences and subsequent replacement by someone who will do as told.

The only thing you might surmise from Zhengfei claim is that he has not yet been asked by the Chinese Government to "pass on user data", as for the "rather die" statement, we might watch the obituaries as his death could be an indication that spying has begun, assuming he is indeed, an honest man.