Instead of the U.S. market coming-out party that was expected, CES 2018 has mired Huawei's handset business in bad news and controversy.
As we reported yesterday, Huawei was ready to announce that it had entered into a deal with number-two U.S. carrier AT&T for a distribution deal across the country but, according to The Information, those plans were stymied after the U.S. Senate and House intelligence committees applied raised concerns about connections to China's Communist Party. And based on sources close to Android Police, an impending deal with Verizon is being similarly scrutinized.
As Huawei reels from yet another failed attempt to enter the lucrative and all-important U.S. carrier market, there is some good news to report: the Mate 10 Pro, the company's flagship handset released in Asia and Europe in late 2017, will make its way to the U.S., but it will be relegated to the open unlocked market.
The Mate 10 Pro is coming to the U.S., but this can't be seen as anything other than a failture for Huawei.
Starting February 4, people can pre-order the unlocked Mate 10 Pro through Amazon, Best Buy, Microsoft, Newegg, and B&H for $799. But as long as the phone is ordered within the pre-order time frame, February 4 to 17 (it goes on sale February 18), customers will get a $150 gift card to that particular store, dropping the price down to a more manageable $650.
Still, on paper, the phone is $200 more expensive than the Mate 9 when it debuted this time last year, and it's still limited to GSM-based carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and MetroPCS, which precludes its use on Verizon and Sprint.
And while Huawei has committed to a multi-million dollar awareness campaign — if you're in the U.S., you may have seen the banners on this website advertising "the best phone you've never heard of" — and a partnership with movie star Gal Gadot, nearly 90% of Americans still purchase their phones through carrier channels, significantly limiting the Mate 10 Pro's potential impact on the high-end market.
Huawei hopes that the awareness campaign, which includes large banners in populous cities like New York explaining how to pronounce the company's name (it's "wow way"), along with appointing Gal Gadot Chief Experience Officer, will give the company a boost that it lacked in 2017, despite a lack of carrier support. It appears Huawei will have to get used to this challenge, as it's unlikely the current U.S. administration would support future products being sold by the providers.
The company also plans to sell a Porsche Design version of the Mate 10 Pro for $1225 USD through similar open channels — Amazon, Best Buy, Microsoft, and the Porsche Design store — which looks similar to the main version but features a "unique front and back cover design... entirely encased in elegant yet robust glass and comes in a luxurious and exclusive Diamond Black color."
As for the Mate 10 Pro itself, it will be available in three colors, Midnight Blue, Titanium Grey and Mocha Brown and goes on sale February 18.