Huawei is forging ahead with plans to launch the Mate 10 Pro in the US after deals with AT&T and Verizon both fell through due to government pressure. The unlocked phone will cost about $800, which will be a tough sell when you can get a Galaxy Note 8 or iPhone X on a payment plan from carriers. In a misguided attempt to hype up the phone before launch, Huawei appears to have solicited fake reviews on the Best Buy pre-order page in a foolishly transparent way. Currently, there are over 100 fake 5-star reviews.
The Mate 10 Pro came out in Europe and Asia in late 2017, but it’s still only up for pre-order in the US. This was likely a last-minute change after the AT&T deal fell apart. About two weeks ago, one of Huawei’s official private Facebook pages offered its 60,000 followers a deal — post about why you are excited for the Mate 10 Pro and earn a chance to become a beta tester. Translation: get a free phone. However, they were told to post that statement in the review section of the Mate 10 Pro pre-order page on Best Buy’s website.
It doesn’t take a genius to guess what happened next. While Huawei didn’t tell people to leave 5-star reviews, that’s what everyone did. After all, they’re trying to curry favor with Huawei to get into the beta program. So, Best Buy ended up with more than 100 fake reviews for a phone that isn’t even available in the US yet, making it painfully obvious something untoward was going on. The phone’s overall rating is now 4.9 stars, which will dilute the effect of any negative reviews when the phone does launch. Well, unless Best Buy removes them.
The entire situation is shady — the review section of a retailer’s site is not the place to post cloying fan promotions. It’s just page after page of people praising Huawei and talking about how great the Mate 10 Pro is going to be with titles like “Unbeatable Smart Phone of the YEAR,” and “Fantastic specs – it’s a beast.”
The sad thing is, the Mate 10 Pro doesn’t need people shilling to say it’s good — it’s already a genuinely excellent phone. The phone has industrial design that’s on par with Samsung or Apple, and the performance is best-in-class. It also ships with Android 8.0 Nougat, which many Samsung phones still don’t have. If it had launched on AT&T and Verizon as originally intended, it may very well have sold strongly and made Huawei a more visible brand in the US.
We’ve reached out to Huawei to see if the company has a statement on what happened here. So far, no one is talking. That’ll probably change once the higher-ups figure out who was behind this ill-conceived promotion.
Update: Huawei has issued the following statement:
Huawei’s first priority is always the consumer and we encourage our customers to share their experiences with our devices in their own voice and through authentic conversation. We believe there is confusion around a recent social media post reaching out to recruit new beta testers. While there are reviews from beta testers with extensive knowledge of the product, they were in no way given monetary benefits for providing their honest opinions of the product. However, we are working to remove posts by beta testers where it isn’t disclosed they participated in the review program.
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