Huawei breaks into U.S. postpaid smartphones with Impulse 4G for AT&T

Huawei, long-stymied in its efforts to win network infrastructure deals with Tier 1 U.S. operators, broke further into the market via its handset business. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) will launch the Huawei Impulse 4G starting Sept. 18 for $30 with a two-year contract.

Huawei impulse 4G AT&T Android smartphone

Click here for details on the Huawei Impulse 4G.

The mid-range smartphone, running version 2.2, or Froyo, of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, is more important for what it signifies than for its specs. (The Impulse has a 3.8-inch touchscreen display, 5-megapixel camera with the ability to record 720p HD video and Wi-Fi.) The device represents Huawei's arrival as a supplier of smartphones to Tier 1 U.S. wireless carriers with its own branded offerings.

To date, Huawei on the handset side has dealt almost exclusively with Tier 2 flat-rate players MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) and Leap Wireless' (NASDAQ:LEAP) Cricket subsidiary. Both carriers sell Huawei's Ascend Android smartphone. Last November T-Mobile USA launched an entry-level Huawei-made phone, the Comet, but the phone was sold under the T-Mobile brand. Huawei, along with fellow Chinese vendor ZTE, has been targeting Tier 1 operators with cheap smartphone offerings. Huawei, primarily a network equipment vendor, has made branching out into consumer devices a key focus.

For the first half of the year Huawei reported revenue of $15 billion. The company said its revenue growth target for the year is 10 percent, compared with 24 percent growth in 2010. Huawei said its growth this year will be due in part to higher-than-expected sales of consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Although Huawei has managed to break into the Tier 1 operators with the Impulse for AT&T, the company remains locked out of infrastructure deals among the nation's largest carriers. The company continues to be dogged by concerns that it maintains ties with the Chinese government, which critics argue would represent security concerns if Huawei were to supply network equipment to American telecommunications companies. However, Huawei has repeatedly argued against those concerns. 

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Article updated Sept. 7 to reflect that Huawei has also sold its Comet phone through T-Mobile USA.