AT&T has tentatively agreed to sell Huawei’s upcoming flagship smartphone in the U.S. in the first half of next year, people familiar with the matter said, allowing the Chinese company to battle Apple and Samsung in the U.S. for the first time.
Huawei is the third-biggest smartphone maker in the world by market share and has lately challenged Apple for the No. 2 slot behind Samsung. But its ability to grow in the U.S. has been stymied because none of the major American cellular carriers sell Huawei phones for their main services. Huawei has struggled to build relationships with U.S. telecom operators, in part because the Chinese company’s professional equipment for carriers’ networks—such as routers and antennas—has effectively been banned in the U.S. since a 2012 congressional report raised concerns that Beijing might use the gear to spy on Americans. Huawei denied the allegations. While the report didn’t prevent Huawei from selling handsets in the U.S., it surely didn’t help its reputation.