ZTE Axon 7 vs Honor 8-18

2016 has been the year that Chinese-based smartphone companies started to slowly expand their presence in the U.S, or at the very least announced plans to expand in 2017. While hardcore Android fans may be very aware of these companies, including Huawei, ZTE, LeEco and Xiaomi, they are just beginning to make themselves known to the general consumer.

What will it take for these companies to get as well known and as popular as their rivals like Samsung, HTC, LG, and Lenovo/Motorola in the United States and North America? We think some of them will have more success than others in 2017.



There is a ton of opportunity for Huawei to bust out into the U.S. market in 2017, as it has virtually everywhere else on the planet. But there are also a lot of hurdles that the company will have to clear to be successful in one of the biggest smartphone markets in the world.

Huawei was recently named as the most profitable Android phone maker worldwide

Huawei was recently named as the most profitable Android phone maker worldwide by Strategy Analytics in the third quarter of 2016, and its recently launched P9 smartphone has shipped over nine million units so far. The company has announced plans to launch its next big flagship phone, the Mate 9, in the U.S. in 2017. If the phone does have a successful launch in the United States, some analysts believe Huawei would become the world’s top selling smartphone maker, period, ahead of Samsung and Apple. It’s also worth noting that Huawei has already begun slowly moving into the US market with its Honor sub-brand.

However, as detailed in a recent Wall Street Journal article, Huawei still faces the lack of support from U.S. wireless carriers. Some of them may still believe that the company could be working for the Chinese government to put in spy hardware and software in their devices, as detailed in a 2012 congressional report. Huawei has denied these charges.

In addition, the company will also have to alter its hardware to comply with the standards that are required by some carriers, particularly Verizon and AT&T.  There’s also the simple fact that the Huawei brand name doesn’t have the same cache as Samsung and other phone makers.

The bottom line:

Huawei will likely continue to be successful everywhere else on the planet in 2017, but it will be hard to make a big enough splash into the U.S. market in the next year with all of its challenges. That said, it will continue to push further into North America in the years to come.



After what seems like years of waiting, Xiaomi looks like it will have some huge U.S. announcements for 2017. At CES 2017, the company plans to announced a new product that will launch globally. Also, its Global Vice President Hugo Barra stated that U.S. network testing has started with the the company’s Mi 5 phone.

Like Huawei, Xiaomi has had great success in other markets worldwide, particularly in India. It is also not adverse to trying out some new designs for its smartphones. Its “concept” Mi MIX smartphone, which it is only selling in China for now, almost completely ditches the normal bezel for a nearly edgeless display that puts a much larger screen inside a smaller case.

Xiaomi still isn't a very well-known brand in the United States

Xiaomi also faces some of the same challenges as Huawei, the biggest of which is the lack of a well-known brand outside of select markets. However, it looks like it is making headway towards breaking into the major U.S wireless carriers, which is pretty much required for any smartphone company to have a wide success.

The bottom line: Xiaomi seems to be doing all the right things for a bigger presence in the U.S in 2017. Let’s just hope everything aligns correctly.


ZTE Axon 7 mini 17

Unlike Huawei and Xiaomi, ZTE has made some strides in the U.S. carrier market, selling devices on AT&T’s no-contract carrier Cricket Wireless. It has also had success with selling unlocked smartphones in the country like the Axon 7 and it has even become the official smartphone for some NBA basketball teams.

However, ZTE also wants to generate a lot of grassroots support for its phones through its online community, through its forums, social media channels and contests like its recent design competition. The company will develop a smartphone with an adhesive back and eye-tracking features, based on the votes from its community on a number of device concepts.

ZTE has also had run-ins with the U.S. government

Like Huawei, ZTE has had run-ins with the U.S. government. Earlier this year, the company got hit with trade sanctions from the Commerce Department, which claimed ZTE had sent U.S. technology to countries like Iran. However, a few weeks later those sanctions got lifted temporarily, and the reprieves have been extended until at least February.

The bottom line: Assuming ZTE can get a permanent lift on these trade sanctions from the government in 2017, we think that the company will be a bigger force in the smartphone market in the next year. One thing we’d like to see is closer relationships formed with the big (non-prepaid) carriers, though its unclear if or when this might happen.



This is perhaps the most interesting of the four Chinese companies we are looking at in this feature. In October, LeEco held what can be described best as an odd press event to announce its formal launch into the U.S. market. In between using tons of buzz words, it actually announced some products, including two smartphones, the Le S3 and the Le Pro3.  However, it is choosing to sell these devices in the U.S., along with some smart TVs, via quick online flash sales.

More recently, there’s been some doubts about the financial stability of LeEco. A couple of weeks ago, the company announced it had secured about $600 million in new financing. However, another business division that’s working on an electric car, Faraday Future, is also in jeopardy, with rumors that work on the car has stopped for now.

The bottom line: LeEco is still struggling to find itself in the US market. Combined with rumors of financial issues, it will likely be some time before it will be a big force in the smartphone industry — especially in North America.


With Samsung’s recent problem with the Note 7 recall, combined with other smartphone companies dealing with their own issues, the time may be right for large rivals from China to make a big play in the U.S. in 2017. Which of these companies do you think will be successful in the next year overall, and in the U.S. in particular? Which of these companies do you think has the brightest future in the years to come? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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