It’s been nearly two years since the Trump administration imposed severe restrictions upon Chinese telco giants, Huawei. In the time since, a number of things have happened.
Firstly, Huawei spent a lot of time talking about, and then opening beta testing for its Android alternative: HarmonyOS (mixed reviews thus far, however). Then, the company decided to sell of all business assets under the Honor brand—the more affordable, youth-centric sub-brand in the ecosystem.
At the time, the takeaway from the sale of Honor for many was the implications on the inclusion of Google Mobile Services (GMS) support on future devices. If you haven’t kept up, Huawei is still prohibited from using GMS on its smartphones and tablets—instead, the company’s newer devices run on an open-source version of Android, and you miss out on a number of crucial features (such as Google Play).
Now, rumours are starting to surface that claim that Honor is preparing to release a Snapdragon 888-powered flagship smartphone sometime around the middle of 2021. Chinese daily Sina reported that the company’s first flagship product since its “divorce” from its parent company will arrive in July at the earliest, and the device will wit within the Magic range of devices.
The report also claims that Honor will release its own version of Huawei’s Mate and P-series, which means that we could see two flagship devices being launched every year (if things go to plan, of course). Of course, Honor only recently launched the View 40 series in China, but that runs on a MediaTek chip instead. Meanwhile, it isn’t clear if the global variant of the View 40 series will run on Google Mobile Services, and we’re still waiting for official confirmation on that front.
However, it’s possible that Honor is no longer subject to the same restrictions as former parent company Huawei. The company reportedly penned deals with Qualcomm, Intel, AMD, and Samsung, while Honor CEO George Zhao confirmed in an interview that the company is working on resuming ties with Google soon. As such, it’s possible—even probable—that we’ll be seeing a Snapdragon 888-powered, GMS-installed Honor smartphone sometime this year.
I do wonder, however, if Honor’s new flagship series will take inspiration from Huawei’s devices. They are an independent brand now, but if you look at other “independent” brands like Redmi or Poco (under Xiaomi), they’ve continued to share resources with new devices—especially in different markets.