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Three reviewing Huawei 5G smartphone launches following US ban

Three
Three is understood to be holding active discussions with Huawei on the impact of the Android block

Three has become the latest of Britain’s mobile network operators urgently reviewing a planned launch of Huawei 5G smartphones after a US Presidential order threatened to block software updates to the Chinese company's phones.

Huawei was due to launch its Mate 20 X 5G smartphone, its premium phone and first 5G device, in the UK in early June. Three was among the network partners planning to release the device.

But with sales and pre-orders expected to begin in the coming days, the planned launches have been hit by a US block on Huawei exports that impact the phone's operating system.

Google, which makes the Android operating system, said it would have to restrict Huawei's access to its operating system thanks to the blacklisting, including the latest updates for new phones including apps like Gmail and YouTube.

A Three UK spokesman said: “We are currently considering what all the implications are. We will evaluate what impact this has on the customer, both short and long term, and act accordingly.”

It is understood Three is holding active discussions with Huawei on the impact of the Android block and will update customers imminently.

Three customers have taken to social media to complain their Huawei phones may not get access to the latest updates.

The news comes after EE and Vodafone both confirmed that Huawei had been dropped from their initial device line-ups for their planned 5G launches. EE's 5G network, which will provide faster internet download speeds for a new generation of smartphones, is due to go live on May 30. Huawei was expected to be among the first devices available on the new network.

But on Wednesday, EE confirmed it had delayed the launch while the impact of the block on Android software was evaluated. EE chief executive Marc Allera said the company would “hold back” on a Huawei launch.

Vodafone, meanwhile, was due to begin pre-orders of Huawei's 5G smartphone on Thursday. It confirmed this would be delayed and no Huawei 5G devices have so far gone on sale.

Dixons Carphone, which owns Carphone Warehouse, also confirmed it would suspend sales of new Huawei 5G phones.

The UK's other major network, O2, is also due to release the Mate 20 X 5G smartphone, although has not given a time frame. An O2 spokesman declined to comment. On Twitter, however, the company said: “Nothing has changed for now.”

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood said: “Given recent developments it is hard to see that any UK operator will be offering Huawei's 5G handsets for the foreseeable future.”

Huawei said on Thursday it was in the process of developing an alternative operating system to Android if it continued to be blocked from the latest updates, which it expected to be ready by 2020.

A Huawei spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.