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After Huawei and OnePlus's success in the US, Oppo wants in

Oppo shares the same Chinese parent company as OnePlus.

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The Oppo R17 Pro is one of the high-end phones you likely won't see if you don't live in China.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Another Chinese phone maker wants to take a crack at the US market. But this one already has a foot in the door in a roundabout way. 

Oppo, one of the biggest smartphone players in China, intends to enter the US market, Alen Wu, head of the company's overseas business, said in an interview through an interpreter. Wu wasn't specific on timing, but he said he wanted to wait until Oppo gained ground in Europe.

"The European market is definitely a tough nut to crack, so you have to be patient," Wu said Friday in Barcelona ahead of the MWC trade show. He noted it took Huawei roughly a decade to establish a leadership position there.

Oppo is the latest Chinese company to make its intentions for the US market known, following OnePlus, as well as fellow Chinese phone makers TCL and ZTE. But his comments come at a tenuous time, because of tensions between China and the US thanks to the specter of tariffs, and the US' loud proclamations of security concerns over Huawei. ZTE itself is attempting to mount a comeback after resolving a dispute with the US Commerce Department that resulted in devastating sanctions.

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You may not have heard of Oppo, but if you're a phone enthusiast, you've heard of OnePlus. Oppo, OnePlus and Vivo are owned by a Chinese conglomerate called BKK Electronics. OnePlus, which started as an online-only supplier of affordable, but high-end phones, broke into the US in a deal with T-Mobile last year. Oppo is hoping OnePlus and other Chinese phone makers will pave its way into the market. 

Wu stressed that Oppo and OnePlus are run independently, but said their leaders have a close relationship with each other.

"They can be very big, or they can be very small and beautiful, but they have to have defining features of their own," Wu said about the dynamic between Oppo, OnePlus and Vivo.

In a nod to global leader Samsung, Wu said he took inspiration from the Korean tech giant when it came to the use of design and color in its products.

Unlike Huawei, which has aggressive goals to supplant Samsung, Wu said he's more focused on the product than the leaderboard.

"We have never thought about market size or market share or even profitability," Wu said, noting that his priority is creating "fascinating products" for consumers.

Originally published Feb. 22 at 1:15 p.m. PT.
Updated, Feb 23 at 2:39 a.m. PT.