Samsung is now taking pre-orders for unlocked versions of its Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ flagship smartphones. The devices will be available broadly starting on May 31.
“With the Galaxy S8 and S8+, we reinvented what a mobile phone looks like, how you interact with it, and what kinds of experiences it can deliver,” Samsung Electronics America president and chief operating officer Tim Baxter says in a prepared statement. “By combining the freedom that Unlocked by Samsung provides, with the innovative and groundbreaking features of our latest flagship phones, we are giving consumers even more choice and convenience for their mobile needs.”
When I originally preordered my Samsung Galaxy S8+, I had assumed that any handsets ordered directly from the company would be unlocked. But I was surprised to discover that I had to choose my carrier—AT&T Wireless, in this case—and that the resulting device was, in fact, carrier-locked.
That wasn’t the main reason I ultimately returned the Galaxy S8+, but it was a factor. (The biggest issues were the cost, and the fingerprint reader, which is inexcusably in the worst possible location on the device.)
Having an unlocked phone is a must (at least for me). These devices are compatible with virtually all carrier networks worldwide, so you can use them more easily if you switch carriers or need to use an international SIM card when traveling.
But the prices remain steep, and you only have one color option, Midnight Black. An unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8 will set you back $725, while an unlocked Galaxy S8+ costs $825. The devices are otherwise identical to the carrier locked versions that Samsung is already selling. In the United States, you can preorder these devices now at Best Buy and at Samsung.com.
By the way, you may recall that Microsoft is selling the Galaxy S8/S8+ via its retail stores and is somehow tailoring the devices with its own software and services. I swung by a Microsoft Store here in Seattle yesterday and found out how that works. As expected, the devices come in stock format, but Microsoft will take it out of the box and reimage it using a cloud-based download, adding Microsoft accounts, products, and services. I was told that anyone could bring in their own Galaxy S8/S8+ if they wanted, but that the apps were all available online for free anyway. Note that the Microsoft versions of the Galaxy S8/S8+ are carrier locked, as well, to either AT&T or Verizon.