Huawei unveiled its new version of Android during a digital event in June. HarmonyOS will be compatible with a large number of existing Huawei products, and while it doesn’t appear to be anything other than an Android fork, it’s the operating system Huawei will use on its devices to replace Google’s AOSP Android. Neither will run Google apps, as Huawei is still on the US entity list, preventing it from doing business with US companies.
Huawei addressed the US ban at the same show, where it teased the new Huawei P50 series. We expected the flagship phone to have been launched in stores by now, but Huawei admitted that it has struggled to bring the device to market. Huawei seemed determined to launch the P50 Pro, and a new leak from China indicates a potential release date for Huawei’s first flagship of the year.
“For reasons you are all aware of, a launch date has not yet been set,” Huawei CEO Richard Yu said on stage. “But we are trying to figure out how to make this great product available to you.”
“It’s a sheer beauty with an ultra-thin and lightweight design and an iconic design language,” the exec said. “It lifts mobile photography to a new level,” Yu added, as Huawei showed off the phone’s partial design, visible in the image above.
Huawei practically confirmed that the P50 design leaks from earlier this year were accurate. The P50 will feature two massive camera modules on the back and will ship with Leica branding. Word on the street is the P50 will be the last Huawei phone to feature Leica’s name on the back, as the camera maker unveiled its own Android phone earlier this month.
While Huawei did not provide any details about the specifications of the hardware or any insight about a potential launch date, PhoneArena picked up a report from Weibo that offers a possible release date.
A user posted a binary number on the social media site. That number translates to 729 when converted to decimal, which can be interpreted as 7/29. If the leak is accurate, Huawei might announce the device on that date or make it available to buyers then.
A late July launch for the P50 would give Huawei a small advantage over Samsung and Apple, each of which will unveil their flagships in August and September, respectively. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 should be unveiled in early August and hit stores a few weeks later. The iPhone 13’s announcement event is expected in mid-September, with the new phones to ship to consumers by the end of the month.
But a P50 Pro with significantly improved cameras might not matter as much in international markets. The phone would still launch without Google apps on board, which is a dealbreaker for Android users who are deeply entrenched in Google’s ecosystem. The P50 series might have a better fate in China, where Google apps aren’t available to buyers. Even so, Huawei’s US ban isn’t just causing software problems. The Chinese phone maker is also struggling to secure high-end chips that would give the P50 a chance to compete with Samsung and Apple.
Android buyers in Europe and other markets looking to try a phone that looks something like the P50 Pro might try Honor’s 50 series. These are mid-range phones that come with a camera design reminiscent of the P50 Pro. They also support Google apps, as Honor is a now separate entity from Huawei.