Honor 9X Pro Android phone launched in India minus Google apps and services; here’s what it means for buyers

The Honor 9X Pro is the first Honor phone in India to launch without any Google apps and services on-board, even though it is an Android phone at heart.

honor 9x pro
Honor will ship the Honor 9X Pro with Huawei’s own AppGallery.

After a brief hiatus of sorts, Huawei spin-off Honor launched a new phone called the Honor 9X Pro in India on Tuesday. While it’s not exactly new from a pure hardware point of view, the Honor 9X Pro marks the beginning of an all-new phase for Honor in India on the software front. The Honor 9X Pro is the first Honor phone in India to launch without any Google apps and services on-board, even though it is an Android phone at heart.

This is because of Huawei’s current predicament with the US government. Huawei has been placed under an “entity list” by the Trump administration which means US-based technology companies can’t do business with it without proper authorisation. This means, among other things, that Huawei isn’t authorised to use the full commercial version of Android which includes Google apps and services including the Google Play Store. It can only use the open source version which is how phones like the Honor 9X Pro can run Android.

Enter AppGallery

To counter the absence of a Google Play Store and Google apps like Gmail, Chrome, Google Maps, and Google Drive (and more), Honor will ship the Honor 9X Pro with Huawei’s own AppGallery, a Google Play Store alternative, with relevant apps and services aka Huawei Mobile Services. AppGallery is Huawei’s official app distribution platform that has been around since 2011 in China. It was launched globally in 2018, and as of 2020 and going forward, it looks like it will be the default choice on all new Huawei and Honor devices — unless of course, the company gets some reprieve from the US government. Huawei has also tied up with Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo to build a “global” app store though it isn’t clear if and when that would arrive on the scene.

Huawei says it is already working with around 1.3 million developers globally to help port their apps “specifically”  for its AppGallery. The company has been offering billions of US Dollars in incentives to encourage developers to build apps for its platform. In a select media briefing on Tuesday, Honor India said the company has set aside 20,000 US Dollars for Indian developers to create apps with local relevance. AppGallery is also claimed to be GDPR-compliant, which makes it a highly secure and private platform, according to Huawei.

Honor 9X Pro
Honor 9X Pro

Be that as it may, even though Huawei has been working on bringing 150 of the top global apps to AppGallery, and even though it’s trying to localise the experience for the Indian market, popular apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Zoom, and others, are still not available. There is a provision to bring apps you use from an older phone to a new Huawei/Honor phone like the Honor 9X Pro using the company’s Phone Clone app, but that doesn’t guarantee future updates. The same is true about phones like the Honor 9X Pro getting future “Android” updates on the whole, because Google has been pushing more and more of its software update machinery through the Google Play Store which makes things difficult for Huawei and Honor to update their devices. The Honor 9X Pro, even though it’s launching in India in 2020, runs Android 9 Pie (based EMUI), with no clarity when the phone will be updated to Android 10. So, that’s something to really think about, should you be looking to invest in a phone like the Honor 9X Pro.

Honor 9X Pro specs and features

The Honor 9X Pro is a beefed up version of the Honor 9X. The phone has a 6.59-inch 1080p+ or FHD+ IPS LCD display and a Kirin 810 processor (with liquid cooling) under the hood paired with 6GB RAM and 256GB storage (expandable) storage. The phone further packs a 4,000mAh battery.

On to the optics, the Honor 9X Pro has three cameras on the back. There’s a 48MP main camera with f/1.8 aperture, an 8MP ultra wide-angle camera, and another 2MP camera for depth sensing aka portrait photography. On the front, the Honor 9X Pro has a 16MP pop-up selfie camera.

Honor 9X Pro India price and availability

Honor has launched the Honor 9X Pro in India at a price of Rs 17,999. This is for the variant with 6GB RAM and 256GB storage. The phone will come in Phantom Black and Midnight Black colour options.

The Honor 9X Pro will be available for registration starting today until May 19, with the phone going on sale via early access from May 21 (12 noon) to May  22 (12 noon) via Flipkart.

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