The first smartphone running Huawei’s Android-rivalling “Hongmeng” operating system could launch as early as Q4 2019.
That’s the word from Chinese state-run publication, Global Times (via The Verge), as unnamed sources have alleged that the Shenzhen OEM is preparing a Hongmeng OS-powered phone for the same quarter as the Huawei Mate 30 series.
Rather than being yet another Huawei flagship, however, the handset is reportedly a low-to-mid-tier phone with a lowly 2,000 yuan (~$288) price tag. Huawei is said to be hoping that the entry-level cost will attract software developers to the platform as it looks to bolster its “plan B” software.
While Hongmeng OS will expand to a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) devices for both commerce and industry, the report suggests that attempts to play down the potential of Hongmeng OS as a smartphone ecosystem have all been a calculated strategy. Instead, Huawei has apparently been quietly testing compatibility with Android apps so it has a backup plan in place should it be blindsided again like it was by the “blunt” U.S. trade ban.
The report also gives us a little bit of detail on the mysterious Hongmeng OS itself. The publication’s sources suggest that the OS has more in common with Google’s Fuchsia OS than Android, having been built on a microkernal to better support multiple platforms and easily accommodate artificial intelligence features.
Is Huawei really ready to ditch Android?
Before we get too excited about the supposed big launch of Huawei’s experimental OS as an Android killer, it’s worth noting that this report comes from Chinese state media. Due to the ongoing geopolitical tensions, it’s worth taking any claims from state-influenced media with a pinch of salt.
There’s also the fact that despite the claims from the aforementioned sources, Huawei itself seems very keen to present Hongmeng OS as an IoT first solution and not an Android rival. Just last month Huawei’s senior vice-president Catherine Chen reaffirmed the company’s intent to use Android on its phones. This was echoed by Huawei chairman Liang Hua just last week in Huawei’s H1 2019 earnings report, with Hongmeng only cited as part of the company’s “long-term strategy.”
It’s also fairly telling that there has been zero speculation that the expected Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro will run anything other than Android. If Hongmeng was really ready for primetime, you would think Huawei would look to land a sucker punch via its flagship phones, not present it in an uninspiring mid-to-low-end phone. This could suggest that while we may see Hongmeng on some Huawei phones very soon, it could well be resigned to budget handsets as a potential cost-saving exercize as Huawei looks to deliver even more affordable low-end phones in China and emerging markets.
We expect to hear official word on Hongmeng OS — which may be called Oak OS outside of China — at Huawei’s developer conference this Friday (August 9) in Dongguan.
Would you be excited to see a Hongmeng OS phone this year? Let us know in the comments.