How to buy the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro in the U.S.

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Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The P20 and P20 Pro are the latest Huawei smartphones to feature a Leica-tuned camera, and the latter device is the first smartphone to feature three lenses. Add in a large touchscreen with a small notch, a slim chassis, artificial intelligence driven by the Kirin 970 chip and the Neural Processing Unit (NPU), plus a large battery, and we’re sure you will want to check one out.

Sadly, if you live in the U.S., buying one is going to be difficult because Huawei has no current plans to sell the devices in the country. Huawei is focusing on other markets at the moment, as it has struggled to find a way past the gatekeepers in the U.S., despite bringing the Huawei Mate 10 Pro to online retailers last year. However, even this deal is falling apart. Granted, Huawei usually doesn’t sell its P-series phones in the U.S.

This means if you want a P20 or P20 Pro, you’re going to have to import one. As always with this method of buying a phone, there are various things to consider. Before we go any further, while the P20 is a great phone, if you’re making the effort to import one, we suggest going for the P20 Pro, and we’ll concentrate on that model from here on.

Will it work in the U.S.?

Not all phones work on all networks internationally. Huawei gives a comprehensive breakdown of the 3G and 4G LTE bands supported by the P20 Pro on its website, which can be compared to the bands offered by AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. It will happily connect to AT&T and T-Mobile in most major cities; but because the phones aren’t specifically built for either network, they do not support supplementary bands helpful in rural areas, or for periods of heavy traffic. This means it may not be as reliable as a phone made for use in the U.S.

The P20 Pro is a GSM phone, and will only work on compatible GSM networks. That means if you’re on Verizon or Sprint, it’s not going to connect. If you decide to import a P20 Pro from China, ensure it’s a “global” model, and not one specifically for China, as the bands may differ on a China-only version.

Where to buy the P20 and P20 Pro?

The P20 Pro is sold in China, the U.K., Canada, and all over Europe. The official price for the P20 Pro is 900 euros, or around $1,100. The P20 is cheaper at 650 euros, or about $850. It’s possible the P20 Pro will cost less in Canada, where it will be sold on all major networks — Bell, Rogers, Telus, Videotron, Fido, and Koodo — but pricing has yet to be revealed. In the U.K. the P20 and P20 Pro are also being sold through all major networks, unlocked without a contract through various retailers and online stores.

Anything else to remember?

If you import a phone and it breaks, or something goes wrong, using the warranty will be very difficult. Some Chinese import companies do provide their own warranty services, just don’t expect them to be very speedy, as many involve returning the phone to China.

Is all the effort to acquire a P20 Pro worth it? We think so, based on our initial impressions. We like the phone, and the camera is something very special indeed, making it twice as frustrating we can’t just pre-order it officially in the U.S.


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