How to buy a Huawei smartphone if you live in the US

Huawei
  • Huaweismartphones aren’t officially sold in the US, but you can still get your hands on one pretty easily.
  • Huawei smartphones will work best on AT&T and T-Mobile, and they will work on Verizon, albeit potentially not quite as well.

After significant opposition from the US government, Huawei has all but abandoned the US smartphone market.

Long story short, the US government sees Huawei devices as a threat to US national security because of Huawei’s business ties to the Chinese government.

Huawei has stopped selling its latest smartphones on the US version of its website, and you absolutely won’t find Huawei devices at your carrier store, whether online or at the physical store itself.

Indeed, on Huawei’s US website, you’ll only find older Huawei devices to buy, like the Mate 10 series that was released in late 2017. Huawei’s current-generation devices include the Mate 20 series that was released toward the end of 2018, as well as the P20 series that was released in early 2018.

Huawei mate 20Huawei

If you’re keen on using a Huawei smartphone in the US, you’ll have to import Huawei’s latest devices, technology analyst Avi Greengart told Business Insider. One of the easiest places you can buy Huawei’s latest devices is Amazon.

Unfortunately, buying Huawei’s latest devices from Amazon means you could forfeit things like a warranty. Amazon’s listing for the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, for example, says the device doesn’t come with a warranty in the US, specifically.

With that said, Huawei still services devices in the US, Greengart said, as the company has a US presence nonetheless. So you can still get your device repaired if you’re a Huawei smartphone user in the US.

Greengart also pointed out that accessories for Huawei’s devices, like cases, are also still widely available in the US. Again, the easiest place where you can buy accessories for Huawei devices is Amazon.

As for software needs like updating the Android operating system, buying a Huawei smartphone that’s unlocked – even if it isn’t from Huawei directly – often comes with benefits versus buying a device from your carrier. The major benefit is that you’ll get software updates directly from Huawei itself, which means you’re likely to get updates faster than those who buy their smartphones from their carriers.

Huawei p20Huawei

Carriers often add their own minor software features to the devices they sell, which means that software updates need to be tested and approved by the carriers before they roll them out to customers. More often than not, carrier testing and approval of updates takes longer than an update directly from the phone’s manufacturer, Greengart said.

Speaking of carriers, Huawei smartphones you buy from importers or Amazon will also work with US carriers, but they will work better with certain carriers over others. “Generally speaking, Huawei smartphones will work well on AT&T and T-Mobile,” Greengart said. “In some cases, these phones will work on Verizon, but it shouldn’t be the first choice.” Greengart did say that certain rural areas could encounter more issues on Verizon’s network with Huawei devices.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been using the OnePlus 6T on Verizon for the last few months, which has similar compatibility with Verizon as Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro. So far, I haven’t had any issues in and around New York City and its surrounding suburbs. I’ve also taken the OnePlus 6T to Las Vegas, Hawaii, and various rural areas in upstate New York without any issues. It largely depends on whether or not your area has good LTE coverage from Verizon.

There is one particular group of people that shouldn’t buy Huawei smartphones, however: anyone who works for the US government, even contractors. Indeed, President Trump banned US government workers and contractors from using Huawei devices as part of the Defence Authorization Act that was signed in August 2017. For those people, I’d fully recommend the OnePlus 6T.

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