CES 2018: Huawei Launches New U.S. Phone Through Retailers, Not Carriers

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The massive obstacle to Huawei in reaching the U.S. market appears to remain firmly in place, as the Chinese phone maker did not use its high-profile CES 2018 keynote to announce a rumored deal with carrier AT&T.

Media reports of a potential agreement between Huawei and AT&T had been appearing for months, including a recent report in The Information suggesting that AT&T would begin selling Huawei phones in February.

[Related: CES 2018: The 10 Most Important Product Announcements]

That deal did not materialize as part of the keynote by Huawei's consumer business head, Richard Yu, at CES 2018. 

The keynote followed a report in The New York Times Tuesday saying that Huawei's deal with AT&T had fizzled. While the Times report didn't have a definitive explanation for the end of the deal, the story did discuss the possibility that political pressure has played a role. The report cited sentiments among some U.S. lawmakers that Huawei devices pose a security risk, as a result of alleged connections between Huawei and China's government, as well as allegations against Huawei of corporate espionage.

Huawei and AT&T did not immediately return messages seeking comment about the Times report.

While there was no announcement of a carrier deal, Huawei on Tuesday announced a retail push in the U.S. that will include the sale of the Mate 10 Pro smartphone by retailers including Best Buy, Amazon, and Microsoft (along with a celebrity endorsement for the phone by "Wonder Woman" actress Gal Gadot). 

During his CES keynote, Yu didn't mention the carrier issue but did contend that the Mate 10 Pro provides a high level of security and privacy to users.

"Privacy and security are always our first priority," Yu said. "We sell phones in over 170 countries. Last year we shipped 153 million. We earned the trust of 153 million users last year."

The Mate 10 Pro will feature a 6-inch OLED display with a minimal bezel, a dual-camera system, and battery life of up to a full day of heavy usage, according to Huawei.

The smartphone will be available through retailers starting Feb. 18. The unlocked phone will be usable on networks including AT&T and T-Mobile, and is priced at $799.

Huawei was the No. 3 smartphone player worldwide during the third quarter of 2017, with 9.3 percent of the market and year-over-year growth of 16.1 percent, according to IDC. The company's lack of partnerships with major U.S. carriers, however, has been blamed for the company's negligible market share in the U.S.

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