These smartphone makers are beating Apple in China -- now they could bring their cheap, powerful phones to the US in a big way

Business Insider/Jeff DunnThe Huawei Mate 9, a $US500 rival to the iPhone.
  • Chinese smartphone manufacturers Xiaomi and Huawei have undercut Apple’s iPhone in their home country.
  • Those manufacturers are reportedly in talks with US carriers to have them sell their phones.
  • If they’re able to strike deals with the US carriers, Xiaomi and Huawei could pose a threat to Apple’s leadership in the US smartphone market.

Apple may soon face the same problem on its home turf that’s hampered its ambitions in China.

While the company’s iPhone has been a big success in many countries around the world, it’s struggled in China. Sales there have been undercut by cheap and powerful Android phones from Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi and Huawei.

Now those companies are looking to bring the battle to the United States. Huawei and Xiaomi are in talks with American carriers including Verizon and AT&T to have them resell their smartphones, Bloomberg reported Thursday. The talks haven’t been finalised and the deals might fail to materialise for either company, Bloomberg noted.

Neither Xiaomi nor Huawei responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Should either company strike a deal, it would allow the company to more easily market its phones to American consumers – and put pressure on Apple.

Huawei already sells its phones in the United States, but you can only buy them through retailers such as Amazon. While Xiaomi sells fitness trackers, robot vacuums, and some of its other consumer products in the US via online retailers, it has yet to offer a smartphone in the American market.

Apple continues to bet big on expensive smartphones. The iPhone X, its current top-of-the-line model, starts at $US999. By contrast, the flagship Huawei Mate 9 is on sale at Amazon for $US400. Earlier this year, Business Insider called the Mate 9 “the best smartphone you’ve never heard of.”

By striking deals with carriers, Xiaomi and Huawei would be able to offer their phones in those companies’ retail stores and through their websites. They’d also potentially have their phones included in the carriers’ marketing campaigns. Such developments could give them a lot more momentum in the American market than merely selling online.

Even so, it’s not certain those companies’ phones would be able to claim a significant portion of US sales. Despite its hefty price, the iPhone X seems to be off to a hot start, outpacing sales of Apple’s less expensive iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Meanwhile, despite its struggles in China, the country still represents Apple’s third-largest market by sales.

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