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Huawei starts rolling out its alternative to Android on phones and tablets

·Contributing Writer
·3-min read

Huawei is ready to move away from Android. Starting today, the company is rolling out its own operating system, HarmonyOS 2, on existing smartphones and tablets. Mate 40, P40, Mate 30 and MatePad Pro devices are among the first to get the update.

In the third quarter of 2021, HarmonyOS will land on nova 6, nova 7, nova 8, Mate 20 and MatePad products. By the end of the year, the operating system will land on V and S series smart screens, Mate 20 X phones and M6 tablets.

Huawei will then update Mate 9, Mate 10, P20, P10 and nova 5 phones with HarmonyOS in the first half of 2022. If you'd like earlier access, you can apply through the Huawei app or in person if you're able to visit one of the company's experience stores. Overall, Huawei will shift around 100 existing products away from Android and on to HarmonyOS. 

The company announced HarmonyOS in 2019 and first brought it to the Honor Vision TV. It originally wasn't intended for smartphones, but Huawei said last year it would bring the OS to its handsets after all.

The move follows US sanctions related to the company and Google locking out Huawei from Android updates, forcing it to switch to an open-source version. An entity list ban against Huawei also prevented the company from bringing Google apps and services to new phones.

Huawei says HarmonyOS 2 offers upgraded connectivity. It includes a drag-and-drop interface for pairing devices, which seemingly makes it easy to move files between a tablet and a Windows PC. When you're watching a movie on your phone, it appears to be a cinch to send video to a TV and audio to earbuds, such as the FreeBuds 4.

The company also revealed new hardware on Wednesday, all of which run on HarmonyOS 2 out of the gate. There are three MatePad tablets with Huawei M-Pencil support on the way.

The 12.6-inch MatePad Pro has an OLED display and a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio. The iPad Pro alternative boasts the Huawei-designed Kirin 9000 processor, eight speakers, four microphones and three rear cameras, including a time-of-flight 3D camera. The 6.7mm thick tablet starts at 4,999 yuan (around $783) for the 128GB version and will be available on June 10th.

Rather than a Kirin processor, the 10.8-inch MatePad Pro and MatePad 11 use Qualcomm chips. The smaller Pro tablet has a Snapdragon 870, four speakers and five microphones. It will also be available on June 10th, starting at 3,799 yuan (around $600) for the 128GB model. The MatePad 11 will arrive later, and it has four speakers and microphones.

Huawei announced the Watch 3 series as well. The smartwatch has a crown button, 316L stainless steel body, Car Key, video calling and eSIM support, along with health and fitness monitoring features.

Watch 3 is said to offer a three-day battery life or up to 14 days in ultra-long battery life mode. The Watch 3 Pro has a five-day battery life or up to 21 days in extended battery mode, according to the company. Watch 3 starts at £350/2,599 yuan (~$400) and Watch 3 Pro costs £500/3,299 yuan (approximately $520). Pre-orders are open in some regions, and shipments start on June 11th.

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