Huawei Mate 10 Pro coming to AT&T, firmware shows

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Huawei is the biggest phone brand you’ve never heard of. But that second part could change soon.

Code found by XDA Developers indicates a version of Huawei’s latest premium phone, the Mate 10 Pro, will be sold through ATamp;T. The firmware in question showed a Mate 10 Pro loaded with ATT’s apps and software.

This follows months of rumours that ATT would carry a flagship Huawei phone in the first half of next year, which stemmed from an August report from The Information.

Huawei is the third biggest phone brand in the world, thanks in large part to strong sales in its populous homeland of China. It sold 39 million phones in the third quarter of the year, IDC research showed last week, around 7 million less than Apple.

The Mate 10 Pro is the company’s attempt to battle big-screen competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Google Pixel 2 XL and Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus. It sports a 6-inch display with an 18:9 ratio, and like many phones this year is almost all screen with minimal bezel.

The phone is powered by Huawei’s own Kirin 970 processor, a chip roughly comparable to Qualcomm’s premium Snapdragon 835. The Kirin 970 has a neural processing unit, or NPU, which the company says improves the Mate 10 Pro’s AI capabilities, battery and performance.

Huawei was also the first company to jump on the recent dual-camera craze. Months before Apple released the iPhone 7 Plus, Huawei’s P9 phone was equipped with two Leica-branded shooters on its back.

Huawei has technically been selling phones in the US since 2014, but only its budget phones and almost exclusively online. Almost all phones in the US are bought through carriers — nine out of 10, according to Counterpoint research analyst Neil Shah — so a deal with ATT would be the beginning of Huawei’s first real shot at cracking the market.

Huawei was contacted for comment while ATT declined to comment.

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