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Huawei is the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, falling second only to Samsung having recently overtaken Apple. They’re huge in Ireland and across the globe. As a company, they have done a number of great things for both the enthusiast and the general user alike, but amidst privacy concerns the company has started to lash out at the community which helped get it (and especially its sub-brand Honor) off of the ground. Not only have they begun to block users from unlocking the devices which they’ve paid for, they are now looking to make users return their already unlocked devices to their normal state, according to numerous reports on the forums of XDA-Developers and well known Magisk developer topjohnwu.

An OTA refers to an update which you receive “Over the Air”. Magisk is a popular “root” solution used which gives a user access to their device’s system files.

Huawei lashes out at custom ROM users

Huawei was huge with the development community for a number of reasons, no less because their devices were some of the easiest to unlock out of all of the major manufacturers. You simply applied for your key online and promptly received it. It was a rather painless system, which allowed you to then install what’s known as a “custom ROM”. A custom ROM is simply just a custom version of Android, free from all of the included pre-installed applications from Huawei. They often run better too, again because of the lack of bloat.

However, the company’s sub-brand, Honor, was even more developer friendly. In a promotion in tandem with XDA-Developers, the company distributed Honor View 10s to the development community as a thank you and to give back to the community. This hilariously backfired when only a short while later Huawei pulled the plug on the whole unlocking thing. Huawei pulling the plug meant that sub-brand Honor had to as well, resulting in a lot of phones that were given out for free for pretty much no reason whatsoever. It sent a message of how Huawei felt for the community which had helped build it (and its subsidiary) to be what it is today. Unlocking codes were set to stop being given out from July 22nd.

Huawei begins to attack those with already modified phones

This is what draws the line for me, personally. While many device manufacturers do prevent modification of their phones, it’s not often that these companies reverse that decision. However, that’s exactly what Huawei did. Not only did they reverse that decision, they now appear to be forcing users to revert back to their device’s unmodified state – whether they like it or not. According to reports from the XDA-Developers forum, a recent update for the Huawei P9 actually detects if your device is modified. If it is modified, your smartphone will no longer boot. It’s a clear attack against the users and the community which helped build it up, most notably the company’s own sub-brand. While the update appears to only be available for the Huawei P9 at the moment, there’s nothing stopping the company from doing similar to their other devices too.

IrishTech urges users not to purchase smartphones from Huawei

Huawei smartphones are hugely popular amongst users in Ireland. We urge our readers not to purchase smartphones sold by the company. With the US Government recently banning their usage from government contractors thanks to privacy concerns, the fact that you may soon no longer be able to move away from Huawei’s own software if you want to is beginning to look increasingly scary. What’s more, it’s a direct attack on those who helped make the company (and its sub-brand) what it is today. I cannot in good confidence recommend this company any longer to those who value their privacy, nor to those who value the ability to use their devices that they purchased as they want them.

For those looking for a more friendly and cost effective device, the upcoming Xiaomi Pocophone F1 may be right up your alley. Failing that, the Google Pixel 3 may also be an option – however costly it may be to import. There are lots of options outside of Huawei, but our overall message is clear – avoid this brand for the foreseeable future.

Post Author: Adam Conway

An Irish technology fanatic in his second year of a Computer Science degree. Lover of smartphones, cybersecurity and Counter Strike. You can contact me at adam.conway@irishtech.ie.