A $229 smartphone just launched, and the US government doesn't think you should buy it

Key Points
  • Huawei is selling a new smartphone in the United States priced at $229.
  • Think twice before buying it on Amazon or Best Buy, however.
  • U.S. intelligence agencies have warned against purchasing phones from Huawei.
  • Consider similarly affordable devices from established brands such as LG or Samsung.
Huawei CEO Richard Yu gives a press conference to present the new Huawei Balong 5G01, a 3GPP 5G commercial chipset on February 25, 2018 in Barcelona, on the eve of the inauguration of the Mobile World Congress (MWC).

If you're in the market for a new smartphone, you might want to avoid a new device that just launched Tuesday on Amazon and at Best Buy.

The Huawei Mate SE costs just $229 and might seem appealing with its large 5.93-inch screen, Android operating system and big battery, but it's from a company that the U.S. government has warned consumers against purchasing products from.

Last month, leaders from the CIA, FBI and NSA, and the director of national intelligence, said private citizens in the U.S. shouldn't buy phones from Chinese smartphone makers including Huawei and ZTE.

Huawei Mate SE

"We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks," FBI Director Chris Wray testified during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in mid-February. Wray also said that the devices give Chinese smartphone makers access or even "control" over the U.S. telecommunications system and "provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information" and "conduct undetected espionage."

The comments came after AT&T quietly backed out of selling Huawei's new flagship Mate 10 smartphone in the U.S.

Huawei's big plans for growth
Huawei's big plans for growth

Huawei denied that it's doing anything malicious.

"Huawei is aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei's business in the U.S. market," the company told CNBC last month. "Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities."