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Huawei taps U.S. smartphone market

Reporter: Karina Huber 丨 CCTV.com

06-05-2015 04:35 BJT

Telecom giant Huawei has five percent of the global smartphone market and wants to triple it. It's eyeing the United States, where it seeks to become one of the top three smartphone brands within the next five years. Problem is, many Americans haven't even heard of Huawei. The company is hoping that will change with the launch of its latest smartphone.

Tech tastemakers in New York were introduced to Huawei's new smartphone this week.The device is entering the highly competitive U.S. market, hoping to appeal to those searching for a low-cost option.

"The P8 Lite is a very nice phone at a very nice price," Avi Greengart, research director with Current Analysis, said.

The unlocked phone has a price tag of 249 U.S. dollars.

"At 249, you're not getting high end, high end processing features that various phones have like a fingerprint reader and knock your socks off features like that, but you do get a good phone," Pete Pachal, tech editor with Mashable, said.

The 4G LTE phone features a five-inch high-definition display screen, a 13-megapixel rear facing camera and 16 gigabytes of memory. Most phones in the United States are subsidized by wireless carriers who insist on multi-year service agreements. Consumers end up with low upfront costs, but often pay more in the long run. Demand for unlocked phones is growing. Apple's unlocked iPhone 6 starts at 650 dollars. Huawei's P8 Lite retails for less than half that price.

"I think it's a great model. You could go from carrier to carrier if you want to, theoretically. I don't know how many people are going to go through that trouble, but it's a fine concept," Pete Pachal, tech editor with Mashable, said.

The tech journalists and analysts I spoke to at the event all seem impressed by the phone and its price. It's lightweight, attractive and has a lot of interesting functions, but they said one of the biggest challenges for Huawei will be in educating Americans on who they are.

"Huawei is a name that U.S. consumers are not particularly familiar with. In my research many consumers aren't exactly sure how to pronounce it, who they are or what they do. So Huawei definitely has their work cut out for them on that front," Avi said.

As a way to instill more confidence in the brand, Huawei has set up a U.S. call center for troubleshooting and is offering a two-year warranty on their phones.

"Nobody else offers a two-year warranty on a phone. So this is something that I think will alleviate some of the fears and concerns," Avi said.

Two years after the U.S. Congress labeled Huawei a potential security threat, the biggest threat posed by the company may be pure business.

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