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Does a phone come with Google apps and services? Look for this label

The Android smartphone market has gotten a little complicated with the ongoing US government restrictions on Huawei. The latest range of Huawei smartphones including the Mate 30 and P40 series are currently shipped without Google apps and services pre-installed.

Although they are still running on Android, consumers might not be aware that the devices are lacking Google apps such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps out of the box. To mitigate the confusion, it appears that Google is introducing a new requirement for all manufacturers that utilises Google Mobile Services.

Source: XDA Developers

It was recently discovered that Xiaomi’s latest flagship, the Mi 10 Pro has something extra printed on its retail box. As seen above, the side of the box has a label that says “with easy access to the Google apps you use most”. Initially, people thought that Xiaomi is taking a pot shot at Huawei since the latter was at a disadvantage when it comes to Google apps.

This prompted Xiaomi to clarify that this wasn’t their intention. According to their statement on Weibo, it is part of a new promotional requirement similar to the “Powered by Android” screen when a phone is booted up and “Intel Inside” for computers.

They added that the previous agreement had expired and Xiaomi is the first manufacturer to implement this requirement as part of its renewal. It also hopes that smartphone makers can work together to create a vibrant ecosystem.

According to XDA Developers, the requirement to mention “with easy access to the Google apps” isn’t found on the latest GMS requirement for the European market. According to a person in charge of Xiaomi’s New Media, other overseas flagships including Motorola will carry the label as part of the new requirement. It was also alleged that a Vivo product manager had confirmed the new label requirement as part of the new agreement.

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It is worth pointing out that Google has not officially publicised this requirement and Xiaomi is the first to mention it publicly. Although Huawei is growing its own AppGallery aggressively, the lack of Google apps out of the box is proving to be a hurdle in markets outside of China. In February, Huawei was overtaken by Xiaomi in terms of global smartphone shipments but the drop was also caused by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Although there are unconventional workarounds to install Google apps, the search giant has warned that sideloading Google apps on devices without PlayStore is not safe and it could put your data at risk. As a top 3 Android smartphone maker, Huawei is still an important partner for Google and it was reported that Google is trying to request for an exemption from the US government which will allow Huawei to use their apps and services. According to a Huawei spokesperson that spoke to The Verge, the Chinese smartphone maker is still open to using Google services if the US ban is lifted.

Alexander Wong