‘Huawei HarmonyOS is secretly a modified Android version’

Huawei touts its HarmonyOS as its own new operating system that is an alternative to Android. However, research shows that HarmonyOS is simply based on Android 10. Huawei will install HarmonyOS on new smartphones.

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Is Huawei lying about HarmonyOS?

HarmonyOS should become Huawei’s alternative to Android, the operating system that the manufacturer has installed on its smartphones and tablets in recent years. Since May 2019, Huawei is no longer allowed to use the regular Android software with Google certification due to a trade dispute. The sales figures of Huawei devices have since plummeted and the manufacturer thinks it can turn the tide with its own operating system.

But how native is HarmonyOS? Huawei has been claiming for a while that it is a new operating system, but an extensive technical analysis continues website ArsTechnica points out that HarmonyOS is based on Android 10 from 2019.

Huawei HarmonyOS
Evidence that HarmonyOS is based on Android.

References to the Android naming have been replaced by HarmonyOS, but there are no real differences in features. With this, HarmonyOS just seems to be a so-called Android fork: an Android operating system without influence from Google.

Android forks have been around for years. For example, Amazon installs Fire OS on its Kindle tablets and the Sailfish OS fork on smartphones from Jolla. These companies clearly state that they are using an Android fork, but Huawei does not.

New Huawei folding smartphone on the way

We may soon see the first smartphone with HarmonyOS. Huawei has announced that it will unveil the Mate X2 on February 22, a foldable smartphone that will succeed the Mate Xs.

The manufacturer leaves it open whether the device runs on the regular Android software or HarmonyOS, although there appears to be little difference. The smartphone has to do without Google certification in any case. In our Huawei Mate Xs review we explain why that is such a problem.

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