- MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
- Huawei is the second-largest smartphone maker in the world, selling more smartphones than Apple and beaten only by Samsung.
- Despite such a massive global presence and its success, Huawei devices aren’t often sold in the US.
- Huawei was recently placed on an “entity” list that requires US companies to obtain government permission before selling or transferring technology to Huawei.
- Now, major US tech firms such as Google, Intel, and Qualcomm have reportedly cut business ties with the firm.
Despite an extremely limited presence in the US, Chinese telecommunications company Huawei is the second-biggest smartphone maker in the world, after Samsung, as of the first quarter of 2019.
Huawei’s footprint is about to become even more nascent in the US, as tech giants such as Google, Intel, and Qualcomm have reportedly cut ties with the firm. The move comes after President Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency over threats against US information and communications technology. The US Commerce Department also added Huawei to the Bureau of Industry and Security Entity list, which means that any companies wishing to sell or transfer technology to Huawei must obtain government permission.
Google’s severed relations with Huawei means that the Chinese tech behemoth will lose access to Android software updates and that its phones sold outside of China will not have popular Google apps like the Play Store and Gmail, according to Reuters, which broke the news. Top chipmakers such as Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Xilinx have also stopped supplying Huawei until further notice, Bloomberg reported.
But Huawei’s phones have proven to be very popular around the globe, regardless of the fact that they’ve been difficult to purchase in the US. As the global smartphone market continued to decline in the first quarter of 2019, Huawei emerged as being the only smartphone vendor of the top three device makers to see its volumes grow.
Part of the reason Huawei’s products have become so pervasive is because of its well-rounded product portfolio, which includes high-end smartphones in its Mate and P lines as well as cheaper handsets that fall under its Honor offshoot brand. With year-over-year growth of 50.3% in the first quarter of 2019, Huawei is “within striking distance of Samsung at the top of the global market,” says the International Data Corporation.
Here’s a look at what makes Huawei devices so popular.
Huawei smartphones are just as good as anything you’d find in the US
- Shona Ghosh/Business Insider
In most respects, Huawei devices aren’t dissimilar from smartphones you can find in the US, at least when it comes to the Android ecosystem.
On the high-end, Huawei smartphones come with beautiful designs and high-end specs and features that easily rival the top smartphones in the US, like Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and LG’s G8 smartphones. The company’s Mate 20 Pro regularly makes Business Insider’s list of the best smartphones in the world thanks to its beautiful design, excellent screen, and snappy performance.
Huawei’s flagship smartphones are also known for their impressive cameras, and that remains true with the P30 Pro, which has four cameras. The P30 Pro rated as having a camera that’s on par with or even better than Google’s Pixel 3, which is particularly notable since Google’s smartphones are renowned for their photography-oriented features.
Like Samsung, the top smartphone maker in the world, Huawei also offers several midrange and budget devices that are more accessible to a wider range of people around the world. The company’s premium smartphones create a strong brand affiliation for its lower-end and midrange models, which are a large part of the reason the company is the number two smartphone maker in the world, according to the IDC.
Why you’re unlikely to see a Huawei smartphone in the US
Even before President Trump’s executive order, finding Huawei phones in the US has been a difficult endeavor. That’s because the US smartphone market is known to be one of the toughest to crack, largely because the vast majority of Americans still buy their smartphones from network carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.
If a smartphone maker strikes a deal with a US carrier to feature their smartphones at carrier stores, the chance of success is significantly greater.
- Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
That consumer behavior is different in most other countries around the world, where smartphone users don’t always buy their smartphones from their carriers. Rather, they’re often bought directly from a company, tech stores, and even dedicated smartphone stores, like the Carphone Warehouse in the UK. As a result, global smartphone users are exposed to a wider variety of brands, including Huawei and Xiaomi, for example.
Even before Huawei was placed on the “entity” list, that all-important carrier partnership never came. The company was on the brink of announcing a partnership with AT&T in January 2018, but the deal fell through after AT&T faced government pressure to drop the partnership over ongoing national security concerns.
When you visit Huawei USA’s website today, you won’t find the latest devices the company has to offer, like the Mate 20 Pro. Huawei devices can still operate on US carrier networks, but the majority of Americans won’t see a Huawei device on carrier store shelves. As a result, most Americans may not even know about Huawei, the second biggest smartphone maker in the world.
- Read more about Huawei and the controversy surrounding the arrest of its CFO:
- Here’s everything you need to know about Huawei, the Chinese tech giant whose founder’s daughter was arrested and could spark an all-out trade war
- An arrest, a debutante ball, and 3 marriages: Inside the insane lives of the super rich Huawei dynasty
- China summons US ambassador and warns of ‘grave consequences’ if Huawei’s CFO is not released
- China has threatened the US with ‘further action’ if Huawei’s CFO isn’t freed
- The US wants to charge Huawei CFO with fraud related to trade sanctions, prosecutors say
- Chinese tech giant Huawei’s CFO proves Trump’s trade war is ‘escalating to a new level’