Typically, the stakes of a “smart phone war” don’t get much higher than who has a faster processor or a better camera. Sometimes, like in the case the disastrous Samsung Galaxy Note 7, one of them occasionally bursts into flames before it lands itself on the ‘Do Not Buy’ list.
Well, now we can add espionage to the list of risks to consider before making your next purchase. China-based mobile device maker Huawei has been trying to gain traction in the U.S. market for a while now, but it recently hit a huge roadblock when a deal where AT&T stores would sell the company’s flagship model – the Mate 10 Pro – was canceled at the 11th hour.
Despite being considered among the top few global brands, the AT&T deal would have made a big impact on the company’s ability to gain a foothold in the U.S., which it now must rely on retail for – selling its unlocked phones via Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy.
Now Huawei must contend with another major setback, as the heads of six U.S. intelligence agencies have just warned consumers to avoid the brand due to what are considered security threats. Heads of agencies such as the FBI, CIA and NSA are telling Americans that the phones can “maliciously modify or steal information” and also “conduct undetected espionage." It’s unclear whether the warnings are coming in response to the Huawei technology itself, or if they are uncomfortable with what they might consider state ties by the phone maker: apparently Huawei’s founder was once a senior engineer in the Chinese Liberation Army.
The agencies stress that they basically don’t want the company to have a seat at the table when it comes to the U.S. telecommunications industry, fearing it is “beholden” to a foreign government and, therefore, could exert pressure or control over U.S. infrastructure.
But Huawei basically says ‘hey, we’re just another phone maker.’ In fact, the company fired back at the U.S. recently, accusing them of depriving citizens of viable choices. Oh yeah – and cheaper ones. The Mate 10 is retailing in the $600-range which, stacked up against the latest Apple model, is a few hundred dollars less. Are they comparable? Only those brave enough to thumb their noses at the recommendations will find out.