Several hours back, Huawei officially announced its latest Android flagship series, having unveiled it in the form of the P20 and P20 Pro following months of teasers and dozens of leaks. As expected, the new devices represent the very pinnacle of the company's engineering and general R&D efforts, with the P20 Pro in particular being an ultra-premium proposition offering a number of industry firsts, including an unprecedented triple-camera setup designed and optimized by the firm's long-term German partner Leica. The P20 Pro can hence take on the very best mobile devices the industry has to offer and will likely be near the top of all lists detailing this year's best handsets once 2018 comes to a close. Unfortunately for many, none of that really matters because chances are you won't own Huawei's latest Android flagship.
As was the case with the P10 lineup that preceded the P20 family last year, the commercial availability of the new devices is fairly limited. The P20 and P20 Pro will hence miss out on the United States, the world's largest market for high-end smartphones which Huawei's latest products certainly are. To be fair to the Chinese OEM, the company certainly tried entering the stateside market earlier this year but ended up being effectively blocked from doing so by Washington, with its widely reported retail partnership with AT&T collapsing approximately 24 hours before it was meant to be officially announced at Las Vegas-based Consumer Electronics Show in January. While there's been a lot of finger-pointing over the matter, with Huawei even momentarily distancing itself from its CEO at one point in an effort to lower the tensions between its business and the U.S. government, the fact remains that the company was unsuccessful in entering the stateside market and the P20 Pro is hence missing out on its potentially most lucrative demographic – Americans used to the idea of buying flagships.
In terms of other countries, the P20 Pro will be most widely available in Europe where the firm is targeting the largest markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Spain. As is the case in the U.S., offering flagships on carrier contracts is still the most surefire way to sell them in most other parts of the world and while Huawei is successfully leveraging that fact in countries like the UK and Canada, having already won the support of numerous wireless carriers, the company still appears to be far away from becoming as entrenched as its main rivals Samsung and Apple are. Granted, the P20 Pro is still expected to do well in the world's largest smartphone market and Huawei's home country of China but the company is already the largest handset vendor domestically and has repeatedly stated its ambitions to challenge Samsung and Apple on a global level. Without the U.S., that goal remains hardly achievable because flagships are the only remaining category in which Huawei has yet to establish itself as a major brand worldwide, with Samsung's Galaxy S and Apple's iPhone lineups still outselling both the P and Mate series in nearly all markets, according to recent estimates.
The lack of U.S. availability is a shame because by most accounts, the P20 Pro is an extremely well-rounded device that also appears to be the ultimate camera smartphone, boasting an extremely versatile triple-lens setup on its back panel, as well as a surprisingly high-resolution 24-megapixel front camera. The new flagship can take on any other ultra-premium smartphone in almost every respect, being packed with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal flash memory, and the high-end Kirin 970 chip with a dedicated neural processing unit specifically designed for on-device AI computing. An intelligent object recognition solution meant to automatically adjust shooting parameters on the go in the vein of the LG V30S ThinQ is part of the P20 Pro package, as are super slow-motion videos supported by the Galaxy S9 series, fast charging, Android 8.1 Oreo-based EMUI, USB Type-C 3.1, dual-SIM capabilities, and a wide variety of other features that match or exceed the vast majority of other Android flagships on the market. The Twilight variant of the handset even has an extremely innovative gradient coating that changes color depending on the amount of light that's hitting it, i.e. the angle from which you're looking at the phablet.
None of that matters if you're an American and unlike in previous years, Huawei wasn't even vague when asked about the potential stateside availability of the P20 series, having directly told journalists there won't be any while speaking at its Paris, France-based product launch event earlier today. The P20 Pro is hence continuing the company's year-long tradition of delivering extremely capable devices that are next to impossible to acquire in the U.S. Even if you pay a premium for importing an unlocked international model, chances are it won't work on most American carrier bands, though the company has yet to detail its wireless capabilities. Whether Washington's security concerns about Huawei's products are justified or not remains to be seen, provided that narrative ever sees a definitive end, but as things stand right now, the P20 Pro will go down in history as yet another cutting-edge and highly innovative device that most tech media and consumers ended up ignoring by virtue of the fact it's nowhere to be seen in by far the largest market for cutting-edge and highly innovative electronics. That's even more unfortunate with consideration for the fact that many industry watchers believe the American government's insistence on preventing Huawei from entering the stateside mobile market on a significant scale isn't even about phones, with handsets essentially being collateral damage of what's presumed to be a federal strategy aimed at halting the tech giant's 5G advancements in the country.
The same is true for the newly announced Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS which isn't aimed at the average consumer but is still an extremely compelling offering that blends the best of both the Mate 10 and P20 series into a single package while also shipping with no less than two fingerprint readers, one of which is integrated into its QHD+ display panel. In other words, while one can argue that the P20 Pro is not the best mainstream Android flagship on the planet, it's quite likely the best one that you won't even consider purchasing.