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Phones

Wonder Woman Gal Gadot wants to sell you the Mate 10 Pro

The Chinese phonemaker hopes star power will help it break into the US.

Warner Bros.

Wonder Woman is coming to the US -- not to fight for justice, but to sell phones.

Samsung competitor Huawei has just named "Wonder Woman" actress Gal Gadot its official brand ambassador in the US, in the hopes that Gadot's popularity and backing will put the world's third-largest phonemaker on the national stage for the first time in years.

For Huawei  -- pronounced "wah-way" -- enlisting Gadot is the first step to its eventual goal of surpassing Apple and Samsung in the ranks of the world's top two smartphone brands.

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Huawei's announcement comes on the heels of a report that the Chinese company lost its chance to sell its premium Mate 10 Pro with US carrier AT&T, which declined to comment on this story.

Instead, Huawei will sell the Mate 10 Pro for $800 directly to customers, through Amazon, BestBuy, Microsoft, NewEgg and B&H. (It'll also sell the 10 Pro Porsche Design edition, for $1,225.)

In the US, buyers purchase the vast majority of phones through their carrier using monthly installment plans. In the absence of carrier support, Huawei is betting on Gadot's star power to give it the kind of credibility and exposure it needs to sell devices to US buyers unfamiliar with the brand.

The Israeli actress and model catapulted to international superstardom for her headline role as Wonder Woman in DC's eponymous film, as well as the follow-up, "Justice League." Gadot was also seen in three "Fast and Furious" movies.

Gadot wasn't present at the annual CES technology show in Las Vegas where Huawei announced her role, and she did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gambling on Gadot

Huawei is just the latest in a long line of phonemakers and carriers to bring a celebrity ambassador on board: Wiil.i.am. for BlackBerry. Jessica Alba for Microsoft. Alicia Keys for BlackBerry... again. J-Lo for Verizon's Viva Movil.

JLo_at_panel.jpg

Jennifer Lopez described herself as a "mobile neophyte" when repping Verizon's brand for Latinos in 2013... and it showed.

CNET/Marguerite Reardon

It did not go well. These brand ambassadors' influence was short-lived and criticized for lacking authenticity, as stars were either proven under-informed about the products they were paid to represent, or caught with competitors' phones.

Gadot's new job -- officially Huawei's Chief Experience Officer -- is to engage with her fans, answer questions and attend events to publicize the brand's high-end phones in the US.

Gadot, who hails from Israel, is an unusual choice to help Huawei's efforts in an entirely different country, the US. But Huawei says Gadot is a natural choice, claiming the actress is a "long-time" user of Huawei products, starting with 2015's Huawei P8.

"She will help not only create awareness for her own name, but for Huawei," Ketrina Dunagan, Huawei's senior VP of public relations, told journalists in a briefing.

"Like Huawei," Dunagan continued, "People don't know how to pronounce her name." (For reference, her first name is rhymes with "ball", her last name like "oat".)

Already on sale globally, and fully reviewed by CNET, the Mate 10 Pro is a powerful handset with a 6-inch OLED screen, an excellent 12-megapixel dual camera and a water-resistant body.

Huawei declined to comment on Gadot's role as an official employee. CNET has reached out to Gadot through her handlers.

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