It’s not just about Huawei
Before analyzing the main stores available, it is good to do some clarity on some aspects. First, third-party stores are only getting to the general public right now, as smartphones with new Huawei hardware components they cannot use the Play Store and Google services due to the ban suffered by the United States of America.
However, even before Donald Trump became the president of the United States, the most “geeky” users were already using smartphones without Google services. To give you a concrete example, it was the year 2015 when the company Meizu decided to end support for GMS in China. For the uninitiated, there are some people, usually the most “avid” fans, who have always imported models from the home market.
These users often don’t really want to wait for the international variant to be able to get their hands on a smartphone and therefore at the time they found themselves with some models without Google services. Several people looked for (and found) alternative methods to install BigG apps, but even then the more “geeks” ventured into the world of alternative stores.
This is just one of the examples that can be done (Amazon Kindle Kindle tablets, which do not have the Play Store, could also be mentioned): we wanted to clarify that third-party digital stores they certainly weren’t born today.
Stores used by smartphones without GMS
L’absence of the Play Store undoubtedly involves limitations that are not insignificant, but much can be done even without the classic applications of the Mountain View giant.
Among the most popular stores we find APK Pure, an installer “collector” that allows you to download practically any type of app. Once the main software is installed, the user is faced with a real store, including the latest “nerd” news.
It is highly appreciated by most “geek” users because it automatically downloads and installs i APK + OBB packages (which internally calls XAPK). Put simply, it is able to install even those apps that require specific additional data to work and would not start with the single APK. To give you concrete examples, Netflix and Call of Duty: Mobile work in this way.
A portal widely used to find APK files is APKMirror, which is also always up to date with the latest versions of the apps. In any case, we are talking about stores that have been around for years at the center of discussions among fans, since they redistribute certain APKs available in official digital stores and sometimes you can find software that is not exactly the most reliable.
Speaking, however, of official solutions, in addition to Huawei AppGallery, an interesting digital store is Amazon AppStore, downloadable from the official website of Jeff Bezos’ company. It is the store that is found, for example, on the tablets of the Kindle Fire series. It is not as complete as the Play Store, but it has several interesting applications and games, as well as an internal currency that allows you to save on purchases.
Finally, coming to the solutions that are appreciated by the “hard core” of fans, we find F-Droid, which is a catalog of FOSS applications (Free and Open Source Software). It is used by more experienced users to install apps with advanced features, such as third-party clients for streaming services capable of putting videos in Picture-in-picture, zooming or the like.
Among other things, always remaining within the F-Droid repository, the latter is also used to find other third-party stores, such as Aurora Store. Here we always return to the debate relating to the security and redistribution of APKs, but it is right to know, for information purposes only, also the alternatives used by the most “geek” users.
For the rest, the Android world is boundless and it is difficult to mention all the possibilities offered by it, but the ones we have talked about are usually those most considered by those who have Android devices without GApps.
The solutions that go alongside the Google Play Store
Obviously, all the solutions mentioned above can be joined to the Play Store. Eg, Huawei AppGallery it can also be used on devices that have the Play Store: just download it from the official website. However, lately there is a “undergrowth” of secondary markets pre-installed on the various devices, especially on the low-end ones.
In some cases, this app are also used to make some publicity to certain applications, but in reality they can be interesting and it is right to talk about it, since practically nobody does.
To give you a concrete example, in the last few days we are testing the smartphone Realme C3, an entry-level that is sold at a starting price of 159.90 euros in Italy (we will talk more about it in the review phase).
The latter features a pre-installed app called the App Market, as well as some of its “derivations” called Hot Apps and Hot Games. During configuration, the software asks the user to install certain software (this step can be safely skipped). That app that some users wouldn’t even open can actually be interesting.
In fact, by starting it, it turns out that it is much more than a simple “advertising page”, but that it is a real digital store. Don’t get us wrong: we are very far from the quality offered by the Play Store (among other things, the app is half in English and half in Indian), but from here you can download some apps that are not found in the Google digital store.
To give you a concrete example, the game currently first in the App Market leaderboards is PUBG MOBILE LITE, a revised version of the popular Battle Royale title that can also work on devices with 1GB of RAM. This title is also found on the Play Store, but looking for it from Italy, as you can see in the screenshots at the bottom of the article, it is reported as not compatible. This means that it is not possible to install it from the Play Store.
While not anything revolutionary, App Market is therefore a store that joins the Google Play Store and allows to overcome some “barriers” that could arise with the latter. However, it is often a bit “criticized” by users because of the advertisements it sends via notifications. In any case, the latter can be deactivated directly from the settings, so in reality they are not a big problem.