At least one flagship Huawei smartphone will be directly available via AT&T during 2018, according to a new report out of The Information, which in turn credits “people familiar with the matter” for the details. What the report specifically states and focuses on, is that AT&T will sell “Huawei’s upcoming flagship” while also stating that this will happen in the first half of the year.
So while this could be simply referring to one smartphone, due to Huawei’s flagship absence from carrier-affiliated services and stores, the assumption is that this will mark the start of a more ongoing arrangement between the carrier and the manufacturer. Likely depending of course, on how successful that first ‘upcoming flagship’ is when it does come to AT&T. While the report does not outright confirm that this is happening, it does state that there is a ‘tentative agreement’ in place between the two. So presuming no unforeseen issues occur or changes made to that agreement, it seems likely that this will indeed happen. While this might not seem like a significant development (as AT&T sells smartphones from multiple manufacturers), for Huawei this is does matter, as the company will be hoping it helps to expand its presence and visibility in the US.
This is not actually the first time a report has come through suggesting as much. As back in March of this year, another report (from the same publication) surfaced and looked to confirm that Huawei has turned to AT&T in a bid to expand its presence within the US. So this latest development seems to be the result of those earlier talks. With the difference being that an agreement (albeit a tentative one) has reportedly been put in place. The major unknown though is what smartphone the agreement refers to. The two most likely candidates will be the Huawei Mate 10 and the Huawei P11. While most of the rumors at the moment revolve around the Mate 10, this is just due to the proximity of the Mate 10’s release. And it seems the release date is likely to be key here. The report suggests a Huawei phone will launch in the first half of 2018 and at present, the Mate 10 is expected to be announced in October - although its release could be much later (and even in early 2018 in the US). The P11 on the other hand, is expected to be announced during the very first part of 2018 (Q1) and will likely also be released within the first half of the year - although not necessarily in the US, within the first six month of 2018.