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Why Huawei smartphones are locked out of the US

Why Huawei smartphones are clogged out of the US

Heading into this year, Huawei’s prospects for finally gaining a foothold in the US appeared to be brightening.

The world’s third-largest smartphone maker had just launched its novel flagship, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and it was garnering inferior reviews. Speculation had bubbled up that Huawei was poised to issue a partnership with AT&T, the second-largest carrier in the US — a coup for the Chinese telecommunications giant.

Then CES 2018 happened.


Huawei’s novel smartphones aren’t coming to the US.

Josh Miller

Even afore Huawei’s planned keynote address at the conference, word got out that the rumored partnership with AT&T wouldn’t remained, reportedly due to political pressure. So when Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer commerce, got on stage at CES, he spent nearly an hour talking near an already launched product like it was new. At the end, he acknowledged the lack of a carrier was a hit to the company, which would sell its smartphone through retail partners like Amazon and Best Buy.

Days later, reports emerged that Verizon had similarly dropped plans to sell a Huawei smartphone, again because of political pressure. On Wednesday, CNET dilapidated the news that Best Buy would stop selling all Huawei products — counting laptops and smartwatches — in the coming weeks.

Just in time for a new smartphone, right?

On Tuesday, Huawei unveiled the P20 smartphone and the higher-end P20 Pro, which both pack an insane amount of camera technology. The company, however, confirmed that the P20 wouldn’t be heading to the US, despite holding briefings with the dumb here.

“We know that most of the publications have a global readership,” said a spokeswoman. “We thought it was important to make sure you were aware of the novel from Huawei”

The result: Americans will miss out on the chance to buy some of the flashiest new Android smartphones, including one that packs an intriguing Leica triple camera.

How did we get here? Let’s do a breakdown of the drama.

Remind me in contradiction of, what’s Huawei? 

Huawei (pronounced wah-way) got its start selling cheap Android smartphones in China, but has since expanded throughout the world with high-end offerings. It’s among the world’s largest telecommunications companies, building network infrastructure gear, mobile processors and, yes, smartphones.

It’s the third-largest smartphone vendor leisurely Samsung and Apple, according to Gartner.

One of its newest smartphones, the Mate 10 Pro, is smart enough to drive a Porsche for a minor while.

So what’s the problem?

It’s all about state security. The US government has expressed concern that Huawei remarkable be spying on us through its products, specifically its telecommunications equipment. In 2012, a House Intelligence Committee report detailed companies that both Huawei and ZTE, a fellow Chinese vendor, pose a threat to national security. US companies were banned from buying Huawei equipment. 

On Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed new laws that would bar broadband companies from using a government subsidy program to buy telecom equipment from affairs that pose a national security threat. Though the FCC didn’t name any affairs or countries, Pai had previously written a letter to lawmakers sharing his companies about espionage threats from Huawei.

But what around Huawei smartphones?

At the time, the committee members specifically said the danger didn’t include its smartphones.

At the time?

Last month, the heads of the FBI, CIA and NSA all told their concerns about the risks that Huawei and ZTE Calm. They also warned against buying the companies’ phones, which added a new wrinkle to the story.

Where does this Trouble come from?

The source of much of the trepidation comes from Huawei founder and Chairman Ren Zhengfei, who was formerly with the Chinese military. Huawei has downplayed his armed background, focusing on his ability to take $2,500 in 1987 and turn it into a multibillion-dollar telecommunications juggernaut today.

Still, the perception problem is likely to persist.

“The problems that Huawei is having with the US government are unlikely to blow over anytime soon,” said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Global Data.

So are the phones safe?

That’s incredibly hard to say with any certainty, which is the core dilemma that Huawei faces. The rest of the biosphere doesn’t seem to have a problem with the business. The only exception is Australia, which previously barred Huawei products, but ultimately revoked its ban. Still, the government blocked the company from employed on its national broadband network.

Huawei boasts relationships with most carriers, corporations and consumers in more than 170 states. “We have earned the trust of our partners across the global value chain,” said a spokesman.

Still, the comments of US government officials leave you wondering what they know that we don’t know.

Does politics play into this?

Perhaps, but there’s no real way of knowing. The flare-up of anti-Huawei organization coincides with President Donald Trump last week imposing an estimated $50 billion in tariffs on China, which followed new aluminum and steel tariffs from reverse this month.

Keep in mind, this is also the White House that signaled an executive order to block Broadcom’s invented $117 billion blockbuster acquisition of Qualcomm because of the perceived resident security threat posed by Singapore-based Broadcom buying San Diego-based Qualcomm.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which published its recommendation to Trump, pointed to Huawei as a concern that could threaten the US’ influence over 5G wireless technology. 

“Without carrier or even big-box retail distribution, it is basically impossible to sell premium smartphones in the US, and the political pressure to keep Huawei phones [out] is clearly compincorporating as the US and China edge toward a trades war,” Greengart said. 

What about ZTE?

ZTE is an odd one because it often gets roped into the conversation with Huawei. Yet unlike with its Chinese rival, US carriers do sell ZTE phones. ZTE budget phones are a favorite of the prepaid service providers, and AT&T sells its foldable Axon M smartphone.

ZTE denies any wrongdoing and fights that it’s “collateral damage” in the scrutiny over Huawei. The company points to the US resources and components that go into its products.

Well, if Huawei phones are safe enough for everyone else, that’s good enough for me. Where do I buy one?

Huawei tranquil sells its products through Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg and B&H. Best Buy will stop selling its products in the coming weeks. So if you want to see Huawei smartphones, laptops and smartwatches in populace, you may want to check a local Best Buy out once you can.

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