Huawei Will Not Sell New Flagship Smartphones in the U.S.

Posted on October 22, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 63 Comments

After trying to make a major splash in the U.S. this past year, Huawei is retreating thanks to state-sponsored xenophobia. And it said today that it will not even try to sell its newest flagship smartphones here.

“We are not planning to sell the Mate 20 Series in the U.S.,” a Huawei statement explains. “While international variants of the Mate 20 Series may be available on some US online retail sites, we encourage individuals to carefully read the details about the warranty and network compatibility before purchasing.”

As you may recall, Huawei originally planned to launch its Mate 10 series handsets in the U.S. via AT&T and Verizon, the country’s biggest wireless carriers. But the Trump administration demanded that the firms drop the phones because Huawei is a Chinese-based telecommunications giant that threatens U.S. interests. Later, Best Buy also agreed to not sell Huawei’s flagships.

And that’s a shame: As I noted in my review, the Mate 10 Pro is “a beautiful, powerful, and affordable Android flagship,” and the firm deserves to compete in an open market with other smartphone makers here.

In an ironic twist, Huawei in August overtook Apple, the U.S-based consumer electronics giant, to become the number two maker of smartphones worldwide behind Samsung. This despite not being able to sell its phones in the U.S., the second-biggest smartphone market in the world. If current trends continue, two other Chinese smartphone makers, Xiaomi and OPPO, could surpass Apple over the next year or so as well. So much for that xenophobia strategy.

Anyway, those U.S. consumers who are still interested in Huawei’s next flagships will still be able to purchase European variants of the phones. Unless, of course, the White House bans the Internet next.

Huawei first provided the quote above to Business Insider for some reason.


Tagged with ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (63)

63 responses to “Huawei Will Not Sell New Flagship Smartphones in the U.S.”

  1. HellcatM

    "But the Trump administration demanded that the firms drop the phones because Huawei is a Chinese-based telecommunications giant that threatens U.S. interests."

    BUT so many phones are made in China including the iphone. If the Chinese Govt wanted to do something to the phones they could do it to any phone made in China including the iphone. So if trump is worried about China, block the iphone (and other phones made in China from being sold in the US".

    • matsan

      In reply to HellcatM:

      Potentially yes.

      But I'll tell you a story about my installation of a PV-farm at my house. The expensive power-converter from SolarEdge is of course manufactured in China. The firmware however came on a mailed SD-card that was inserted into the power-convert. At first boot it showed a long activation code challenge on the display. After a phone call to SolarEdge support in Germany they gave you an activation code to enter. That activation code included the number of PV-panels and maximum power. After this, the firmware was installed on the unit from the SD-card. They simply didn't trust the manufacturer in Chine with the fundamental know-how that the firmware contains making it possible for them to provide units for the grey-market.

    • eric_rasmussen

      In reply to HellcatM:

      Exactly. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the US government went after Huawei because Huawei wouldn't implement an NSA back-door or something along these lines. A phone manufacturer who steals data will not be a phone manufacturer for long, so the whole story the American public was fed doesn't make sense.

    • yangstax

      In reply to HellcatM:

      The main reason that Trump administration has waged a war against Huawei is actually based on the logic rather on the facts. Chinese Govt owns some shares in the Huawei Corporation as they do in most of the large Chinese corporations. So Trump is suspecting that they could potentially interfere and embed some electronic parts for the espionage purpose, even there are no evidences to substantiate those concerns. Even the security concerns are valid, U.S. could just forbids government organizations from procuring the Huawei products. I certainly don't see why the consumer phones would be banned. What information exactly consumer phones can contribute and impact the security of China? It is beyond me.

  2. Illusive_Man

    Aren’t Trump Steaks and all his other made in China though? The only thing he has manufactured in the USA are his own lies.

  3. Matt Lohr

    Paul, please avoid political commentary. I avoid other tech sites because they can't help themselves.

    • evox81

      In reply to Matt Lohr:

      Where was the political commentary?

      • Daekar

        In reply to evox81:

        I think you may need glasses.

      • jbinaz

        In reply to evox81:

        I'm guessing it's the "state-sponsored xenophobia" part of the first sentence.

        I have no idea if there are legit reasons for the U.S. banning Huawei (if banning is the right word), or if it's trade motivated, FUD for other reasons. But I'm guessing that's the reason for the comment.

    • Daekar

      In reply to Matt Lohr:

      Amen. Most of them are appalling.

      It's weird that Paul has clung to this weird xenophobia narrative. Out of the smorgasbord of options the news present us with, this particular bit of propaganda seems to have resonated with him more than most people.


    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Matt Lohr:

      Facts are facts, and the reason Huawei has decided not to bother with the US market is a fact. If that seems like political commentary, perhaps it's you who should consider whether you're oversensitive.

      • lvthunder

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Facts are facts. In that you are right. Huawei didn't say why they decided not to sell in the US. Paul is just assuming the reason. And using some harsh words towards our leaders to do it.

        Paul has no idea what the intelligence community has told President Trump. He just assumes President Trump doesn't like China because he's xenophobic.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to lvthunder:

          When out great, fearless and thoughtless leaders screw up, they deserve harsh words. The most asinine thing citizens can do is give blindly uncritical deference to politicians.

  4. waethorn

    I'm enjoying my OTG phone. No apps = more security, more happy.

  5. PeterC

    Huawei are targeting a 30% sales increase in Europe and their handsets are extremely good looking and svelte to hold. I see loads on sale and in use everyday. I think they better Samsung in build/design now. Their Honor line, supposedly budget mid range, is also extremely good too.

    EMUI is way better these days but its not for everyone, even so I remain really interested in Huawei as their photography partnership with Leica is going great guns - its just the google issues for me personally that keep me iOS. But if the google relationship changes for Huawei, and I think it will, then I'm in.

  6. Vladimir Carli

    OMG, it’s pretty amazing the kind of comments that this post stimulates. Looking at it from Europe it’s a very weird fact happening in the land of the free market. Huawei are by far the best android phones. The fact that they are not sold in the us it’s obviously an anomaly, don’t you think?

  7. brettscoast

    This really is a dumb decision that makes no sense at all

  8. Xatom

    Spare us your sophomoric pseudo insights about national security matters about which you unfortunately know little.

  9. pargon

    When I was stationed on a submarine for 5 years, cell phones were not allowed on board due to the reason that China has programs that can target certain people's phones, install on the device so when you think you're turning it off, it displays normal shutdown screens and then goes black, keeps the phone on, records conversation within mic range and silently connects to a server when it has a cell signal or wifi later. Many people high up in the government were surveilled and thus being on a sub, dealing with national security on a daily basis we weren't allowed to have any sensitive conversation within earshot of a device with wifi.

    This was in 2013. We all left our phones topside in a steel box.

  10. maethorechannen

    two other Chinese smartphone makers, Xiaomi and OPPO, could surpass Apple over the next year or so as well. So much for that xenophobia strategy.

    Arguably, Apple would lose it's position even faster without the xenophobia. Or at least it would if the iPhone didn't have such a mindshare lock in America.

  11. wright_is

    The handsets are very good.

    We have a Mate 9 Pro, Mate 10 Pro, P20 and a P-Smart. All are great devices and the support is good as well. My daughter's 9Pro camera had gray smudges, a Perlen I had with my Lumia 950 as well, when the processor gets too hot and damaged the sensor. They have her a refurb unit on an 18 month old device, no questions asked.

    The cameras are good and the cheap P-Smart feels like an iPhone 8 in the hand.

    Huawei will be at the top of my list, when it comes to replacing my current phone.

    That is something that only Nokia has managed so far.

    I've been through HTC, Samsung, Nexus, Nokia, Microsoft and Motorola phones and never bought the same brand twice, apart from Lumias. Huawei looks like it might be the exception to the rule, although their prices are ceiling into the silly category, usually reserved for Apple, Samsung and Google.

  12. Chriscom

    "After trying to make a major splash in the U.S. this past year, Huawei is retreating thanks to state-sponsored xenophobia."

    Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed national security expert Paul Thurrott.

    • Xatom

      In reply to Chriscom

      i say move to China where you can buy and use them freely. Well as long as you don't mind state censorship or winding up in a prison camp for re-education if you use it too freely. At least you can buy them so it wouldn't be all bad.
  13. Boris Zakharin

    I'm sorry, but this attitude predates Trump. I remember quite well when the US government refused to buy any Huawei equipment due to security concerns, and advise private industry to do likewise.

  14. txag

    I guess Australia is evil, too. They banned Huawei from bidding on their 5G infrastructure due to security concerns.

    • FalseAgent

      In reply to txag:

      network equipment =/= consumer device

    • yangstax

      In reply to txag:
      Australia is actually a man-made evil. Trump twisted their arms to do that by using the excuse of 'potential security concerns', even without any evidence. Australia gave in. It is one of the Trump's tricks to reduce the balance of trade with China by creating fears toward China. China is all of sudden a bad guy now. It certainly helps Pentagon to push through their budgets.

  15. MachineGunJohn

    I'm surprised you didn't also throw in sexist, misogynist, islamist, and homophobe. Those usually tag along with racist/xenophobe when baselessly thrown into a conversation. There is no xenophobia in the US governments stance on Huawei and it's non-xenophobicly held by other governments as well. Better to stick with the tech facts and leave the name calling to the uninformed elsewhere in mass media. There are more than enough there and they lowering IQs and diminishing public discourse everywhere else. It'd be nice to have a break from it here.

    • feedtheshark

      "I'm surprised you didn't also throw in sexist, misogynist, islamist, and homophobe."

      Even though that's a good description of some of Trumps' traits, it was just the xenophobia that was relevant to his decision to ban Huawei. At least Paul was sticking to facts, unlike the US govt.

    • skane2600

      In reply to MachineGunJohn:

      Your comment seems to be a generic conservative rant. If you're going to claim people are failing to produce facts, you should present some yourself.

      • lvthunder

        In reply to skane2600:

        If you are going to accuse someone of something yes you should provide facts. If you are defending someone who is being accused of something then there is something called presumption of innocence.

        • skane2600

          In reply to lvthunder:

          I think it's more than just presumption of innocence. It's the presumption that claims without evidence have no reason to be believed. It's often a matter of justice, but more fundamentally, it's about logic.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to lvthunder:

          Wisest to take a cynical attitude towards politicians, i.e., presumptions of incompetence, stupidity, corrupt intent, etc. Make each of them prove they're not as bad as other politicans.

  16. matsan

    Yeah - let China roll over us clueless Europeans.

    Seeing what Stuxnet could do, just image what a couple of million (potential) state-sponsored spy-devices could do.

    • FalseAgent

      In reply to matsan:

      isn't Huawei already one of the leading brands for smartphones in Europe?

      • matsan

        In reply to FalseAgent:

        In Q1-2018 they were #3, shipping 7,4 million (potential) spy-devices in Europe. Bring it on!

        • spacein_vader

          In reply to matsan:

          How many American (potential) spy-devices were sold in the same period?

          • matsan

            In reply to spacein_vader:

            You are absolutely correct. iPhone is big here, but Apple has yet to be caught red-handed.

            All of our commodity services (Office 365, Amazon Web Services and Google) are hosted by American companies quite often in America.

            We are truly f**ked and my next phone will be a feature-phone from Doro and I'll buy a type-writer and stamps for my mails.

        • FalseAgent

          In reply to matsan:

          maybe, just maybe, and i'm very sorry to say this, but maybe there is no spy capabilities in huawei phones which is why they're allowed into the EU?

          I know. I said something unreasonable. I apologize.

          • red.radar

            In reply to FalseAgent:

            The reason they are allowed is because Cisco and other organizations haven't properly lobbied the EU. Spying is just a boogieman for Past IP theft that Huawei commited in building there network infastructure business, which eventually allowed them to build a handset business.

            • skane2600

              In reply to red.radar:

              You really don't need to have a background in network infrastructure to be in the handset business.

              It's worth noting that Cisco's first product was a rip-off of Stanford's "Blue Box" router and its software. They eventually licensed it from Stanford possibly to avoid prosecution.

  17. FalseAgent

    at some point the US is going to have either provide clinical evidence of so-called "phoning home" in actual consumer hardware from huawei, something which apparently the rest of the world doesn't know about, or admit that they've been lying about it.

    • architxt

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      Whether there is or isn't 'clinical evidence' relative to Huawei the context is broader than that: China is expanding is political, economic and military influence at an alarming rate.

      To a point, I believe, that the US and its allies need to get serious about a solid defensive / offensive strategy. Disengagement on a business level should be part of that too, however painful that is going to be.

      I'm in Australia and more exposed to China's new 'purpose'. Chinese investment is considerable here and with that comes influence. Some of it subtle and some not so much. They're buying their way across APAC and Africa -- you must have heard about the 'One Belt' initiative too, right? Not to mention what they're doing in the South China sea, building a military base in international waters and claiming it's all theirs.

      It would be less of a concern if China were a democratic and free society, but it's not. Far from it.

      To learn more about all of the above search for a podcast called China Unscripted. Paul should have a listen too.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      Trump administration admit mistakes? What planet have you been living on in which alternative universe?

    • red.radar

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      I think it has nothing to do with Phoning home and that is the smoke screen for the real issue. Huawei was implicated for stealing designs from Cisco in building network infrastructure many years ago. From someone I knew who worked at cisco they tore down a Huawei router and it was basically identical to theirs.

      So now certain tech companies have lobbied the Senate, Congress and Administration for past behavior that probably has evidence. It becomes a convenient issue to forever punish them for past crimes.

      Is Huawei still phoning home..or steeling designs... probally not...right now... But its a wonderful boogieman based in some past facts. I think this goes back to IP rights and not privacy and spying. That is just a wonderful cover for real facts.

      OH... This was going on before Trump.

      • skane2600

        In reply to red.radar:

        Unless a design is protected by patents, or protected by a nondisclosure agreement, copying it is completely legal. If Cisco had a credible claim against Huawei, they should have sued them.

        Update: As it turns out, Cisco did sue them and they eventually settled with Huawei removing the contested code. That's the proper way such disagreements between companies should be handled rather than getting the government involved.

      • skane2600

        In reply to red.radar:

        It's true that the government was making these sorts of warnings before Trump was in office, but the most severe restrictions were imposed by his administration.

    • MachineGunJohn

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      fortunately you are entirely incorrect about them having to do any such thing. Rest assured it has been shared with the relevant people which don't include those prone to baseless speculation like you and unfortunately apparently Paul.

      • skane2600

        In reply to MachineGunJohn:

        There would be absolutely no reason to hide the evidence if there was any. It would simply be a matter of reverse engineering or monitoring data transmissions. Neither one involves revealing intelligence assets.

        The simplest conclusion is that such evidence simply doesn't exist. We know Trump makes claims that are demonstrably false on a regular basis, so this is likely just more of the same.

      • aionon

        In reply to MachineGunJohn:
        Tried to upvote you and it downvoted... so figured i must have hit the wrong one, and hit the other, and that one downvoted twice... guess you can only downvote if you criticize here...

      • FalseAgent

        In reply to MachineGunJohn:

        The world is bigger than America, sorry. Huawei devices ship to India, Europe, East Asia, Asia-pacific, the middle east, and pretty much everywhere. America is free to prove me wrong and gladly tell the world what only your self-described "relevant people" know, or admit that they're backstabbing allies by witholding the knowledge of an alleged chinese threat capable of disrupting all of our economies. It is either one or the other, and I assure you, time will prove my scenario right. There's no need to make it more complicated than that.

  18. rupertholmes

    As so I still cannot get a phone that will take a better photo than my former Flagship 1020. I may just purchase an international version and chance it. None of this is Trump's fault. Someone may be getting a kickback to fed false info and Samsung and Apple ahead.