Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Huawei Mate 10 Pro is coming to the U.S., but not on AT&T

Given the focus, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas isn’t a place where you would expect to be surprised by an announcement. However, yesterday several news outlets shared a shocking revelation: that AT&T would no longer carry the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Leading up to CES, Huawei was expected to unveil a partnership with U.S. carrier AT&T to carry the company’s latest flagship smartphone. Now that this deal has fallen through, the Mate 10 Pro will only be available through online retailers such as Amazon and some brick and mortar stores such as Best Buy.

Huawei already confirmed that they would be expanding into the U.S. Indeed, Huawei has been eagerly pushing the news that the Mate 10 Pro would be coming to the U.S., with more details to come at CES. The company has repeatedly confirmed on their U.S. social media accounts that the new Mate smartphone would be unveiled on January 9.

The company has stopped short of mentioning that the phone would be sold through AT&T, but our previous report, coupled with several corroborating reports from The Information, show that the two companies were poised to make a big announcement on Tuesday. FunkyHuawei.club, a service which provides access to pre-release Huawei/Honor firmware, spotted AT&T Huawei Mate 10 Pro firmware dated as late as January 6th. This means that the AT&T and Huawei deal was likely still in place leading immediately into CES.

According to an explosive report out yesterday night by The Information, AT&T rescinded the deal at the last moment due to “political pressure.” The report states that members of Congress sent a letter to the U.S. FCC expressing their concern over Huawei’s deal with AT&T. The letter, which was seen by The Information, reportedly “cited an intelligence committee report on Huawei’s alleged ties to the Communist Party as well as China’s intelligence and security services.”

Huawei has long raised concerns from Congress such as when, in 2012, U.S. investigators alleged that their telecommunications equipment could be used for spying by Chinese authorities. The company, effectively shut off from the U.S. since this incident, has long been seeking to make a return. A deal with AT&T could have paved the way for the Chinese giant to gain a foothold in the competitive U.S. market, though now it seems that Huawei will have to settle with retail avenues that are traditionally less successful in the U.S.

For the average consumer, the report might dissuade some from purchasing the new smartphone. It’s difficult for any of us to determine the veracity of the alleged intelligence committee report without having seen the evidence, so ultimately it’s up to you if you want to believe the report.

The Mate 10 Pro is a top-of-the-line smartphone from Huawei with one of the best still image camera performances according to DxOMark. It’s running Android 8.0 Oreo with Huawei’s EMUI 8 software on top, which brings features such as “Easy Projection” which allows you to use a desktop-like user interface by connecting to any display with a compatible USB 3.1 Type-C to HDMI adapter. You can view the rest of the specifications in the table below, in case you are still interested in this device.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro
Display 6″ 2160×1080 OLED Panel
SoC Kirin 970 SoC, Mali G72 GPU
RAM 4GB/6GB
Internal Storage 128GB
MicroSD Card Slot No
Rear Cameras 12MP RGB + 20MP Monochrome Camera, both f/1.6
Front Camera 8MP Front Camera with an f/2.0 Aperture
3.5mm Headphone Jack No
Certification IP67
Fingerprint Scanner Yes

One silver lining here is that any alleged improprieties can be prevented by running unofficial software on the device. Thanks to Project Treble, a generic build of AOSP Android Oreo without any Huawei software can be installed on the Mate 10 Pro (as I have done on my own device). It’s not a perfect solution by any means, especially because Project Treble-compatible ROM development is still so young, but it’s a promising step that can be taken on this phone and any other device launching with Android Oreo.

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