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Should you buy a HUAWEI device right now? (Updated)

There are a lot of reasons to buy HUAWEI smartphones, but the Trump blacklist has turned everything on its head.
May 20, 2019
HUAWEI P30 Pro camera array at angle

Update #3: May 20, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. ET: The U.S. Commerce Department has created a temporary 90-day license that restores HUAWEI’s ability to provide software updates to existing HUAWEI handsets. Read more here.

Original article: Monday, May 20 at 2:03 p.m. ET: The short answer: Wait. The long answer is a bit more nuanced and complicated. There’s no question that this entire situation is a mess for most of the parties involved — least of all consumers who may be caught unwittingly in a global trade war they care nothing about.

The Trump administration recently added HUAWEI to the Commerce Department’s Entity List. The list is, in effect, a blacklist that says U.S. companies cannot do business with any corporation named therein. In this context, “business” means sell or give any products created in the U.S. to Huawei.

Huawei’s mobile devices rely on the Android operating system from Google, as well as hardware components from U.S. chipmakers. After HUAWEI’s name went on the list, Google, Intel, Qualcomm, and others quickly suspended trade with the company.

“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” said Google in a statement issued to media.

What does this mean? To start, HUAWEI will no longer have access to updates to the Android operating system. The company will be able to use what it already has in hand, but early access to Android Q is likely off the table.

If you have a HUAWEI phone, there’s a bit of good news. “HUAWEI will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing HUAWEI and HONOR smartphone and tablet products,” said the company, “covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.”

In other words, any HUAWEI- or HONOR-branded product that’s already on store shelves, or in the retail channel, is safe. You can buy it today and it will function as expected.

But should you?

HUAWEI P30 Pro held in hand
Huawei's plan B for mobile might be called 'Oak OS' (Update: Trademark filed)

As things stand today, our answer is to wait. There’s nothing wrong with HUAWEI’s phones at all. In fact, the P30 Pro is an amazing handset that we recommend wholeheartedly. However, considering the current legal situation, we’d hate to see anyone spend $1,000 on a device that may have a curtailed lifespan. There are still too many unknowns.

If you need to buy a new phone today, tomorrow, or at any time in the next week, you would do well to either hold out a bit longer or opt for a different device.

With any luck, this issue will be resolved shortly and smartphone fans can get back to their fandom without worry.