When Huawei announced the P10 and P10 Plus at Mobile World Congress this week, we assumed, like many other members of the tech press in Barcelona, that the launch would be focused on Europe. And it was — for a while. But now we know that in addition to Europe and the UK, Huawei plans to bring its new flagships to Canada in the coming weeks.
Specifically, the P10 will be launched on Rogers, Bell, Fido and Videotron, while the larger and better-equipped P10 Plus will be a Rogers exclusive. Prices and availability aren't yet available, but based on the phones' European prices of €649 and €749 respectively, we wouldn't be surprised to see them broach $700 and $800 or higher.
So why are the phones launching on Canadian carriers but still shut out of the U.S.? In an interview with MobileSyrup, the company's vice-president of corporate affairs, Scott Bradley, said that Huawei had been pushing for a move into Canada's high-end market for several years — it's sold mid-range devices for a while, including the recent Nova series — after finding tremendous success with the Nexus 6P.
He said that the Nexus 6P was incredibly popular at Canadian carriers, and improved Huawei's brand recognition amongst regular Canadians. The Chinese company also invests a lot of money into research and development within the country, so there is a positive brand sentiment overall.
In contrast, Huawei doesn't sell any phones through U.S. carrier channels, and only recently introduced its first high-end devices in the Honor 8 and Mate 9. One impediment to getting those devices into the market was Enhanced 911 certification, which is required by both the FCC and Canada's regulator, the CRTC. It took until mid-2016 for Huawei's homegrown Kirin chips to be certified for E911, which is why Huawei kept its high-end phones out of the U.S. for so long.
The tepid response to the Honor 8 may have been the P10's downfall in the U.S.
Unfortunately, despite the Mate 9 selling well through unlocked channels, disappointing sales of the Honor 8 likely precluded Huawei from pushing forward with a go-to-market strategy for the P10 series, despite its significant improvements. Without carrier support, a mid-sized phone in the $650-700 range would easily be overshadowed by the Samsung Galaxy or LG G flagship of the day, and Huawei currently feels more comfortable competing in the less crowded phablet space — one where the Mate 9 fits nicely, especially in the absence of a Galaxy Note.
What's nice about the P10 and P10 Plus launching in Canada is that they will be optimized for North American carriers, making importing the devices a more tantalizing prospect than the equivalent Asian or European SKU, which wouldn't have the right bands.
Would you import a P10 or P10 Plus into the U.S. from Canada? Let us know in the comments!
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