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Huawei’s letting the $800 Mate 10 Pro speak for itself in U.S. release

Huawei CEO calls Mate 10 Pro carrier debacle a 'big loss' for consumers

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Huawei will launch its impressive Mate 10 Pro smartphone in the United States in February, and at the same time it will embark on a costly and ambitious promotional campaign to introduce the company to Americans, a task in which it will be assisted by Wonder Woman herself. However, contrary to rumors leading up to the announcement, Huawei will not be joining arms with a carrier in the U.S. At least, not for now.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro, a flagship phone with dual-lens Leica-tuned cameras, onboard artificial intelligence features, a beautiful screen and a sleek design, will cost $800. It’s set to be sold through Amazon, Best Buy, Microsoft stores, Newegg, and B&H Photo from February 4, when it goes up for pre-order. The device will ship and be available in stores from February 18. As an incentive to buy the Mate 10 Pro, each retailer will give buyers a $150 promotional gift card to spend with them, effectively reducing the cost to $650.

In addition to the regular Mate 10 Pro, which will come in blue and titanium gray, the Porsche Design Mate 10 Pro will also arrive in the United States. It has an all-black color scheme, 256GB of internal memory, custom Porsche Design wallpapers and more. The desirable special edition and its predecessor were only sold outside the U.S., so it’s a pleasant surprise to see it join the standard model. The Porsche Design Mate 10 Pro has already proven very popular in China since the launch, where demand saw it surpass the Apple iPhone X as one of the most expensive phones available to buy. In the U.S. it will be sold through the same stores as the Mate 10 Pro, plus Porsche Design’s own store, for $1,125 from February 18.

“The best phone you’ve never heard of,” is the main message Huawei will try to convey through its massive campaign to promote the Mate 10 Pro. You’ll see this slogan, along with others that play on Huawei’s hard-to-pronounce name, online, in print, on the radio, and on billboards throughout the coming year.

Huawei SVP of Marketing Ketrina Dunagan told Digital Trends the intention is for people to “get to know us through our products,” and described the new ads and associated marketing as being, “on a scale that’s beyond anything we have done before.”

Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot has joined the Huawei team as an ‘experience officer,’ on the basis of not only having been a fan of the brand for some time, but also because people routinely mispronounce her name. For Huawei, it’s using the slogan “Wow Way” to help educate people on how to say Huawei. It’s not actually pronounced “Wow way,” making this an unusual tactic — for reference, it’s more like Hu-ah-way — which Dunagan said helps, “bridge the gap between an easy-to-understand phrase and the correct way to say the name.”

What about the rumoured AT&T deal that apparently fell apart at the last minute? Huawei said it was familiar with the complexity of making deals with carriers, having made so many around the world, and that they took time. For now, it has mutually decided to use open channels — regular stores, rather than carriers — to sell the Mate 10 Pro in the United States. Why? Dunagan said, “Brand awareness comes first,” and that Americans need to know and trust the brand before making a purchase, whether it’s in a store or through a network. However, she added that we should, “stay tuned,” about carrier deals.

The statement is contradictory to what Richard Yu, chief executive officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group, said at the CES 2018 Keynote.

“I think it’s a big loss for us, and also for carriers, but more bigger loss for consumers because consumers don’t get the best choice in the market,” Yu said to an applause.

Yu went on to talk about how Huawei has won over the support of Chinese carriers, and other carriers around the world in places like Europe and Japan.

“The last 30 years, we’ve proved our quality, we’ve proved our superiority, privacy, protection, we’ve proved our good quality, good innovation and the leading technology innovator. It’s proved. Huawei, we’re a company with a spirit of working hard and dedicated employees. … We will win the trust of global consumers.”

The Mate 10 Pro is probably the best phone Huawei has ever made, and one of the very best of 2017. Dunagan is very positive about the effect it could have. “This is the moment when we’re going to bring a globally leading product to the United States,” she said, fully aware of the Mate 10 Pro’s ability to impress. However, the firm has considerable work to do surrounding brand recognition and acceptance.

In the U.K., Huawei told us it has around 80-percent brand recognition, and a carrier partner in the U.S. to go along with its quirky ads and Wonder Woman, would have vastly improved its chances of changing that. Outside of this, we think the Mate 10 Pro is worth your money with or without any carrier deal.

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