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HUAWEI FALLOUT

Mobile phone resellers shun Huawei handsets for now

But some believe aversion to the mobile brand may eventually pass

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Huawei issued a statement on Tuesday to declare their intention to replace the current Android operating system with one of their own, known as HongMeng.

Singapore

THE US government's decision to ease some trade restrictions on Huawei and give the China telecom giant a 90-day window to operate as usual doesn't seem to be enough to convince second-hand phone shops to take in Huawei mobile phones - at least for now.

Some shops told The Business Times that they have temporarily halted purchases of Huawei devices from customers because of concerns they might have a tough time reselling them later on.

A check on consumer marketplace app Carousell found many people trying to offload their Huawei devices. One user is seemingly willing to part with a brand new Huawei P30 Pro phone for as low as S$880, or S$518 lower than the recommended retail price. But one dealer expects the situation to normalise and the panic-selling will pass "once Huawei rolls out its own operating system" at some point.

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There was also herd instinct at play in the Huawei selloff. A sales staff at My Mobile House in Toa Payoh said: "Because the rest of the shops are not accepting them, (so) we don't accept either," adding that he was simply following "market trends".

"We will probably continue accepting trade-ins when Huawei is ready with a self-made operating system," he said.

On Monday this week, the US Commerce Department granted a 90-day licence for mobile phone companies and internet providers to continue to work with Huawei - the world's second-largest smartphone maker - to keep existing networks online and protect users from security risks.

While the exemption allows Google to send software updates to Huawei via its Android operating system until Aug 19, it's still unclear at this stage what will happen beyond that. One fear among users is they could lose access to popular applications such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps.

Huawei issued a statement on Tuesday to declare their intention to replace the current Android operating system with one of their own, known as HongMeng.

As things stand, mobile phone resellers said they have not noticed any significant impact on the sales of the existing Huawei devices in their inventory.

Andrew Ong, the director of local electronics firm Ceba Trading, also noted that sales of Huawei devices - including the newer models like the Y6 Pro and P30 Pro - had not dropped significantly since news of the controversy broke earlier this week.

"People... still buy them, because a lot of people just want them for basic functions like WhatsApp and sending emails", said Mr Ong.

When contacted by BT, Singapore telcos StarHub, M1 and Singtel allayed fears of Huawei phones' capabilities being handicapped. They confirmed that customers with Huawei phones will not be affected in terms of Google services and the Google Play Store for downloads and updates.

M1 said: "Huawei devices that have been sold or currently on sale will not be affected, in terms of Google services or updates...

"To date, we have... not seen a significant increase in customers' requests to return or cancel their orders. Out of goodwill, we may allow customers to exchange for another handset brand on a case-by-case basis."

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