AT&T has backed out of a deal with Huawei to sell the company’s new flagship smartphone in the US, as reported by The Wall Street Journal and independently confirmed by The Verge. Huawei was set to announce the partnership this week at CES 2018 before AT&T canceled the arrangement at the last minute; the Chinese giant has already blanketed Las Vegas in advertising for its Mate 10 Pro phone.
It’s not clear why the deal is off, but Huawei is likely to announce US availability for the Mate 10 Pro anyway since the company already sells unlocked devices online and through certain retail stores in the country. But making a flagship phone available on a major carrier would have represented a huge leap in profile for Huawei, which is the world’s third biggest smartphone vendor but has often been the subject of suspicion from American companies and politicians.
At CES 2012, Huawei’s consumer division CEO Richard Yu told The Verge that the company “needs some time for the US carriers to accept high end [products] from Huawei. We’re early in the US market, but maybe [there are] some other reasons like trust, for the carriers. The US government is also an influence — it gives some noise.” Five years on, it looks like Yu will have to wait a little longer.
Huawei’s CES press conference is happening tomorrow — we’ll be there to see what gets announced.