Huawei is dipping its toes a little deeper into the waters.
The Chinese smartphone vendor on Wednesday announced the launch of its Honor smartphone brand in the United States.
The initial roll out comes in the form of the $399 Honor 8 smartphone. The 5.7-inch Android device comes in three colors with silky smooth all-glass casing, a 12 mp dual lens rear camera, fingerprint scanner and 32 GB of storage.
Though it hardly bears the Huawei name on its shell, the Honor 8 is the second Huawei smartphone available to U.S. consumers.
Launched in 2013, Huawei said its Honor brand focuses on “giving digital natives the types of devices that fit their lifestyle.” The brand also relies heavily on a customer base that buys its products almost exclusively online.
“Honor 8 perfectly represents the evolution of our overall product view,” Honor Global president George Zhao said. “It goes against established industry norms and market conventions with a higher aesthetic standard. At the same time, it balances looks with the smarts, speed, and connectivity that today’s young consumers demand.”
The device is currently available for preorder through Best Buy, Amazon and on Huawei’s website, but it doesn’t appear it will be offered through U.S. wireless carriers.
That last bit, though, isn’t surprising. Though Huawei is the third largest global smartphone vendor and is especially popular in its native China, the company has struggled to gain a foothold in the U.S. market.
Part of the problem has been Huawei’s inability to link up with U.S. wireless carriers, who control much of the country’s smartphone market.
In June, Huawei’s head of Consumer Electronics Richard Yu told the Wall Street Journal developing a partnership with the U.S. carriers will be key to Huawei’s success in the country. Yu said at the time Huawei will “need some time to build our capability” in the United States, but he believed the company can offer U.S. consumers “better innovation and the best user experience.”
Huawei’s push into the U.S. market comes as it reaches toward its goal of surpassing Apple and Samsung to become the top smartphone vendor in the next four to five years.
In the second quarter 2016, Huawei remained the third largest global smartphone vendor with 32.1 million shipments and 9.4 percent of the market share, according to International Data Corporation. Samsung was in first place with 77 million shipments and 22.4 percent of the market share and Apple was in second with 40.4 million shipments and 11.8 percent of the market share, IDC said.
Of the two, Huawei may have an easier time slipping past Apple if the latter’s smartphone shipments continue to slide. To pass Samsung, however, Huawei will certainly have to gain steam in the two major markets where it is lagging – the United States and Japan.
In the United States, Huawei accounted for less than one percent of the smartphone market share at the end of the second quarter, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech data.