Huawei phones have been found to be serving ads through their lock screens, as reported by a number of users on social media. The ads reportedly appear within the "Magazine unlock" feature that Huawei has provided on its custom EMUI skin for some time. The list of phones that are said to be found displaying ads specifically for hotel booking aggregator Booking.com includes the Huawei P30 Pro, Huawei P20, Huawei P20 Pro, Huawei P20 Lite, and Honor 10. Notably, the latest development comes in the midst of the criticism that has pushed Huawei to build a new mobile operating system. The Shenzhen-headquartered company has also been banned from working with US tech companies.
According to multiple users who have raised their voices on Twitter and Reddit, the Huawei phones display Booking.com ads through the preloaded 'Magazine unlock' feature. The feature is originally designed to showcase a set of images on the lock screen that change every time the users unlock the screen.
The user reports on the social media suggest that the ads emerged earlier this week without informing users through any explicit notification about the change.
"Why am I getting Booking.com adverts on my lock screen? Based on Twitter and Reddit, I'm not the only one," one of the affected users posted on the Huawei UK Community forums.
Without acknowledging the update, Huawei's German Twitter account apologised to one of the users who have reported the issue on the micro-blogging site. "I'm sorry that you think we want to advertise," the account tweeted alongside highlighting the workaround to deactivate the ad by swiping up on the screen and delete the individual ad-featuring image by going into the settings menu. Some users on Reddit have also mentioned the same manual process that worked for them.
As noted by AndroidPolice, the phones that are reportedly displaying ads include the Huawei P30 Pro, Huawei P20, Huawei P20 Pro, Huawei P20 Lite, and Honor 10. The ads are also not limited to any particular region as the users have reported their presence in markets such as the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, South Africa, and Norway among others.
Huawei has confirmed to Gadgets 360 that it has taken down the ad-serving lock screen images from its servers, and they should not feature on the lock screen interfaces any more. However, users who have already seen such ads will be required to take certain steps to remove the adverts.
In a note given by the servicing team, a copy of which is with Gadgets 360, Huawei has provided a workaround to remove the objectionable lock screen images. Users need to slide up from the bottom edge of the screen. An operation toolbar will appear. After that, tap the Delete button and then hit the Remove button from the confirmation box.
The Magazine unlock feature can also be disabled altogether. The users with the phones running EMUI 9.X can disable the feature by going Settings > Home screen & wallpaper > Magazine unlock and then turning off the option. On other EMUI versions, the feature can be disabled by going to the Lock screen style option from the Settings menu and then selecting a non-Magazine unlock cover.
Huawei is notably not the only Chinese company that has started displaying ads through its phones. Xiaomi is notorious for showing ads through its MIUI skin for a long time. Nevertheless, considering the ongoing hurdles, including the ban that restricts it to work with US tech companies, the latest ad-placement development could make things even worse for Huawei.