So let’s keep things real straight from the get go– The thought of using Android without Google services or apps freaks me out. Android and Google go together like Nandos Chicken and it’s famous peri-peri sauce, I mean..someone’s getting in trouble if I order chicken and it doesn’t come with the sauce!
Things you should know
The thing about the Google ban is that it doesn’t just affect Huawei products, but also the products of its sister company, HONOR. I’m going to be honest here, I thought HONOR was screwed when the news broke.
Yes, HONOR relies on Huawei chipsets and other technological features to give it’s phones that flagship feeling, but the company has done an impressive job of distancing itself from Huawei over the past year by actually making a name for itself through its solid devices. The Google ban threatened to put that all that progress to waste.
The ban meant that HONOR had to make some tweaks to it’s release schedule, which explains why Malaysia (and pretty much everywhere else thats not China) got a version of the 9X that’s not quite what HONOR initially had in mind.
That being said, with Huawei developing its App Gallery rather aggressively, both companies are now on the front foot and fully embracing Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) as an alternative to Google. HONOR is going all out in adopting this, with the HONOR Intelligent Lifestyle ecosystem comprising of smartwatches and even laptops!
Life With HMS
HONORs recent 9X Pro is the first HONOR device to come shipped with HMS. If you’ve read my P40 Pro review, you’ll know how I feel about the lack of Google on a flagship Android device. But the HONOR 9X Pro is a mid range model, and pretty good one at that. But this isn’t a review of the 9X Pro. The question here is what life without Google is like.
The first thing you have to know is that the whole experience of installing apps is going to be a little different. Instead of completely ignoring the Huawei App Gallery, you now have no choice but to download most of your apps from there. This may feel a little foreign to you, especially if you’re an Android native but I assure you, it’s not so bad.
If you’re anything like me, the first apps you’ll look out for is WhatsApp, Spotify and Instagram. The thing is, you’re not going to find em’ on the App Gallery. It’s all good though because you can just download them via third party app stores like APKPure and more. Of course, the drawback here is that it’s not as secure as the App Gallery but it works just fine.
In terms of how packed the Huawei App Gallery is, it actually took me by surprise. Here’s a breakdown of the more popular apps on the App Gallery:
As you can see, it’s probably better than you expected. For everything else, I either just went straight to the mobile website or got it off APKPure. On top of that, the 9X Pro comes with this pretty nifty app called Phone Clone.
What it essentially does is transfer all your old apps into your new HONOR device. It’s almost magical. Of course, it works more seamlessly if your old device was a Huawei or HONOR device, but if you’re changing from a Samsung or even iPhone, it still works.
So if you’re worried about losing your WhatsApp chat history, you need not worry! For those of you who rely on Gmail to send your e-mails, the phone comes with a native Gmail inbox that worked without any hiccups for me.
Life goes on, with or without Google
All in all, it’s going to take some getting used to, but given that the HONOR 9X Pro is a sub RM1000 device with a solid Kirin 810 chipset and ample storage, not getting the device because it doesn’t come with GMS is almost criminal.
There’s great value to be found here, and believe me, after a week or so, you won’t even notice the lack of Google.. Until you want to go on YouTube and have to do so via the mobile site instead of the app that is. But still, nothings perfect right?