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Honor 20 launches globally this week, but you probably shouldn’t buy it

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Not while the Trump-imposed Google embargo remains in effect

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Honor 20 Photo: Honor

2019 has been a transformative year for Honor, Huawei’s junior brand, with the introduction of the excellent Honor View 20 and Honor 20 Pro. For the first time, this budget brand was competing for the attention and money of smartphone shoppers at the high end of the market. But then the United States used Huawei as a proxy to escalate its trade war with China, and Honor became collateral damage in the process. The official situation right now is that the US has banned its domestic companies from engaging in business with Huawei, which includes Honor, though there’s been a 90-day reprieve that muddies the situation.

Honor’s approach to this global trade drama has been to just keep going with its product plans, in the hope that things will improve sooner rather than later. And that’s how we arrive at the global launch of the Honor 20, which today gets a price and release date for its first markets outside of China. The UK, France, Germany, Russia, and Malaysia will all get the device this Friday, June 21st, at a price of £399, €499, RUB 27,990, and RM 1,699, respectively. In each country, there’ll be a bundled free accessory, with some receiving the Honor FlyPods and others getting the Honor Magic Watch. Italy, the Netherlands, and India follow on June 24th, with the Poland Honor 20 release coming on June 28th, and Spain completing the set at some point in July.

In its home market of China, Honor racked up a million sales in the first two weeks of the Honor 20’s availability, which sounds like a bit of an arbitrary milestone, but it’s a record for the company. There are plenty of reasons to really like the Honor 20, which has a decent camera, a great design, and the truly top-tier Kirin 980 processor powering everything inside. It also has a minimal dot camera (removing the need for a notch) and a side-mounted fingerprint sensor that’s quicker and more reliable than the majority of in-display fingerprint sensors of today.

And yet, I wouldn’t advise anyone, at least in Europe, to spend money with Honor until parent company Huawei recovers its working relationship with Google. Outside of China, the thing we identify as Android is mostly Google services: Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, Keep, and, most importantly, the Google Play Store. All of those things require Google’s Android license, and while the Honor 20 and 20 Pro have received Google’s assent already, their future looks very cloudy without ongoing support for major Android updates.