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Huawei Looks to Sell New Phablet Direct to U.S. Consumers. Good Luck With That.

The Chinese device maker will sell the Ascend Mate2 from its new website, bypassing carriers and retail entirely.


China’s Huawei has settled on a new way to crack the U.S. smartphone market. It will sell its new Ascend Mate2 directly to consumers through its website.

Not likely to work. Just ask Sony.

Though a major player globally, Huawei has been tryingand struggling — to move beyond the low end of the U.S. market.

After struggling for a long time to get U.S. carriers to promote its high-end devices, Sony opted to sell them direct and unsubsidized. The company found the approach challenging even with its far-better-known brand name, so it seems unlikely to be an easy sell for Huawei, a brand that is virtually unknown to U.S. consumers.

Another challenge of Huawei’s new direct-sales approach: There’s nowhere for consumers to get any hands-on time with the Ascend Mate2. It’s buy-before-you-try, though the company is offering a 30-day return policy on the device (minus a $25 restocking fee). Said Huawei executive VP Michael Chuang, “People will just have to read up on the materials.”

Chuang said that Huawei knows that direct sales won’t give Ascend Mate2 the same exposure it might have gained had it been distributed through carrier stores.

“Unfortunately, [carriers] are not listening to the consumers,” Chuang said.

Selling directly through carriers will remain a key part of the company’s U.S. plans, particularly at the middle and low-end range of the market.

The Ascend Mate2 itself packs a massive 6.1-inch display, a hefty 3,900-milliamp-hour battery and a 5-megapixel front camera. But its screen resolution is modest for its size, and it uses the older 4.3 (Jelly Bean) version of Android.

Huawei says it will offer other incentives. Those who preorder the Ascend Mate2 before June 22 will get a case, a SIM card with a free month of service and 20 gigabytes of online storage from Bitcasa.

The $299 phablet is available for preorder today. It will work on either T-Mobile or AT&T’s 4G LTE network.

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