Huawei phones bumped from EE and Vodafone 5G starting line-ups

Huawei's first 5G smartphone has been excluded from EE and Vodafone's 5G starting line-ups, amid ongoing uncertainty about Android's future on the devices.

EE announced today that its 5G network will go live on Thursday, 30 May , and will be accessible in six cities from four 5G-enabled smartphones.

These include the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, the Oppo Reno 5G, the LG V50 ThinQ and the One Plus 7 Pro 5G.

Conspicuous by its absence, however, was Huawei's Mate 20 X 5G, which Huawei had previously said would go on sale in the UK in June with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

The company's first foldable smartphone, the Mate X, is also 5G-enabled, and was due to launch in the UK later this year.

However, Vodafone, which had previously confirmed it would be stocking the Mate X, said it would suspend the phone from its 5G line-up.

"Huawei's 5G handset is yet to receive the necessary certifications," a spokesperson told the Financial Times .

The news is a huge blow to Huawei, which is currently the third most popular smartphone brand in the UK after Apple and Samsung, accounting for 12.4% of shipments in 2018.

The move comes after Google cut off Huawei's Android license earlier this week, in response to a US government ban.

Google has said it will continue to support existing Huawei smartphones, but future devices will not have its flagship apps and services, including maps, Gmail and search.

It's also unclear whether existing Huawei smartphones will receive future Google software updates – such as the forthcoming Android Q update.

Speaking at a press conference in London today, Marc Allera, chief executive of EE, said the launch of Huawei 5G devices has been put "on pause".

"Until we get the information and confidence that gives us the long term surety that our customers, when they buy those devices, are going to be supported for the lifetime they've got the device with us … we've put those devices on pause," he said.

However, he confirmed that the company would continue to use Huawei equipment in its 5G network, in spite of fears it could be used by the Chinese state as a route to spy on the West.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright warned earlier this month that the roll-out of 5G networks in Britain could be delayed, claiming he would not trade off the economic benefit of using "cheap kit" with the potential risk to security.

EE’s core 5G network currently relies on Huawei technology, but Mr Allera confirmed that the company had received "no instructions to change our plans”.

He said the supply chain restrictions were a concern but that the UK would not benefit from a lengthy delay to 5G launches while the situation is being resolved.

"There are so many scenarios and we don’t have any clarity. But we can't stand still," he said. "Nothing is crystal clear but we have to work within that ambiguity."

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