How to set up your new Huawei P40 device without Google Play Store


We don’t want to drop you in the deep end, which is why we’re here to help anyone with a Google-less Huawei phone figure out how to make the most of it. Fair warning that there are quite a few workarounds, especially if you’re very attached to your apps. So it might not be for anyone.

Huawei is pushing the ‘check out the specs on this one, and make do without Google’ narrative. Which is fair, considering the company continuously brings out monstrous phones in terms of hardware. The new lineup includes the P40, P40 Pro and the P40 Lite — all of ‘em are great phones in their own rights, but how do you manage your apps on a phone that doesn’t have access to fan-favourites like Gmail, Google Maps and Google Play Store.

Replacing the Play Store is Huawei’s own AppGallery. Don’t freak out — it’s not like downloading apps from an unsecured service. Apps loaded on the AppGallery undergo a stringent process in getting verified and being allowed on the store. It’s just when you need an app not available on the AppGallery that you’ll enter the internet’s grey area. 

Find your apps

That’s a reasonable request. All we want to know is whether we’ll have access to all our favourite apps, and to a degree, you absolutely will. 

Huawei has been grinding to get all of the South African apps on its AppGallery, so it can comfortably launch Huawei devices running HMS into the country. And since its Developer Day last year, it has made incredible headway, with the store currently hosting a majority of South African-made apps already. 

We’ve been using a Google-less Huawei phone for months now. And you know what? We really don’t miss Google yet. 

Attack of the Clones

If you’re switching from an Android device to your new P40, all you gotta do is clone your old device onto the new one using an app called Phone Clone. It’s natively loaded on most Android phones, otherwise, you can download it in the Play Store. 

This method will allow you to physically copy all the content (including apps) from the previous phone to your Huawei device. This will pull over everything (including your Google apps), even if they’re not available in the AppGallery. We were concerned about the AppGallery not yet having the FNB mobile app, but using phone clone easily transferred the FNB app to the Huawei device. And it works. 

You’ll find that some cloned apps won’t run without GMS, in which case our advice is to find a good replacement app on AppGallery. Overall, almost all of our transferred apps worked. 

Going Google-less 

Initially, you’ll probs try to set up the phone by downloading all of the important/must-have apps from various sources. The AppGallery does not host apps like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. But you can, in this case, download them directly from the websites. The AppGallery lists the apps, but as a link, and once you click the link you’ll be directed to the app’s website, where you can download the app directly. 

You’ll be able to link Gmail-accounts to the native email service app without any issues. In terms of navigation, we found that Waze works perfectly in the place of Maps, and for native search, we set Microsoft’s Edge as the default browser but Huawei’s main browser works just as well. 

Searching for more apps will take time, and patience, and scouring the web and third-party app stores. Our Pro-tip here is to use both Aptoide and APKPure, which will cover most of the apps you need. But those are third-party downloaders so it’s not our fault if it doesn’t work.

The WhatsApp saga

If there’s one annoyance with this whole process, it’s that you can’t transfer a WhatsApp chat backup automatically (like you would if you were moving to a Google device). If there’s one thing we don’t like, it’s minor inconveniences. This is one of those. 

The reason for this is that WhatsApp natively backs up chats to Google Drive and presto! You can’t access Drive on this device, so it’s useless. What you can do, however, is download the chat backup directly to your device by changing a setting. 

After you’ve gone through this strenuous process (we know, it’s not all that bad actually), you’ll need to transfer the chat backup folder to the new Huawei using a file-sharing app called ShareIt. Or any file sharing method — you can even Bluetooth transfer it to yourself if you want to relive the early 2000’s. 

Point is, if you want to keep your chat history from WhatsApp (let’s face it, most of us do), you’ll need to transfer it manually. Which is a bit of a pain. And the Boomers may struggle with this part. 

A little handholding

We have to mention that Huawei is going out of its way to educate customers on setting up their HMS devices. 

The company has set up 24-hour access to a support call centre, a WhatsApp line as well as customer service points in more than 100 shopping centres across South Africa. So when you acquire your shiny, brand new Huawei P40, ask the sales assistant in the shop (or via customer service) to help you set up the Google-less device.


About Author

Digital Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.


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    • Hi,

      So Phone Clone doesnt seem to migrate the FNB App now. It picks it up as being incompatible. Taking the apk from another device and side-loading installs the app, but crashes when trying to run it. What version of the FNB app did u get to migrate?

      This is my colleagues experience on a P40 Lite this past week.

      Any ideas?

      • I used SHAREit app to send the FNB app to my new P40 Lite. Have not yet tested the full capability yet, but it starts the FNB app so far. I tried the cloning app also and that didn’t work. I was getting dispondent about the P40 series but I now feel better about it. I was also able to transfer candy crush saga haha.

  3. Pingback: Buy Huawei’s P40 Pro or the P40 now and get a P40 Lite free

  4. Peter van Wyk on

    Using my garmin fitness watch it seems that Google maps, even if downloaded from 3rd party is not supported on p40 lite. This makes garmin connect redundant. Any suggestions?

  5. Hello – got a Hauwie P40 lite // i need the FNB banking app.

    Phone clone would not transfer the FNB from my old phone.
    Downloaded the APK to my laptop and blue tooth to the P40 lite. When it arived it would’nt install. Please help

  6. Hey guys I’m also gatvol… What’s the use off having this device.. Totally shit.. Feels I can throw this blarrey phone towards the wall.. No fnb app can open.. Yor.. Feel so helpless why is this happening…

  7. If u still having problems especially with the fnb app or other apps not available on app gallary u can just install findora, it’s an alternative app store and has majority of apps available on play store including maps, Spotify and other useful apps like the fnb app that works well and flow less, I use a p40 too and although I’m still getting a grip on finding my way around the Google less features its growing pretty well on me

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  9. Pingback: The FNB app is now available on Huawei’s AppGallery » Stuff

  10. I cloned my capitec app and it didn’t work. I deleted it and downloaded it from Petal search and it still doesn’t work. How can I fix that?

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