Friday, April 21, 2017

Unlocked Galaxy S8: 5 Things Buyers Need to Know

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If you’re thinking about picking up the unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8 there are a few things you should know before you commit.

After months of anticipation, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are finally here. The two devices are loaded up with hardware upgrades and an impressive set of software features including Samsung’s new personal assistant, Bixby.

Beyond the hardware and software there are a few other details you should be familiar with before you commit to one Galaxy S8 model or another.

We’ve taken a close look at the iPhone 7 vs. Galaxy S8, gone through some reasons to and not to buy the Galaxy S8, and today we want to tell you about the unlocked Galaxy S8 and relay some pros and cons to potential buyers.

The unlocked Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are a little different than the other models so it’s important to know what you’re getting into.

Unlocked Galaxy S8 Pre-Orders

The unlocked Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ aren’t widely available just yet but there’s a way to buy them right now if you live in the United States.

As far as we know, the only way to get your hands on a Galaxy S8 that’s unlocked (from the get-go) is if you put in a pre-order with a retailer.

Two retailers, B&H Photo and Amazon, are currently taking unlocked Galaxy S8 pre-orders ahead of shipping dates in April and May.

Amazon is listing its unlocked Galaxy S8 models with an April 28th street date while B&H plans to start shipping its devices in the beginning of May. The retailer doesn’t confirm a specific date.

Look for the unlocked Galaxy S8 and unlocked Galaxy S8+ to be widely available starting early next month.

Why You Might Want to Wait Until May

Amazon is charging just about $900+ for the unlocked Galaxy S8 and over $1000 for the unlocked Galaxy S8+. B&H Photo prices are a little more sane. Just a little.

The retailer is currently charging $830 for the Galaxy S8 and $930 for the Galaxy S8+. Expensive, sure, but better than Amazon pricing.

If you don’t want to pay that much you can wait until May for the prices to ease.

Unless B&H and Amazon drop their prices, Best Buy is going to undercut them by quite a bit.

The retailer is planning to sell the unlocked Galaxy S8 for $724.99 and the larger Galaxy S8+ for a cool $824.99. Those are pretty deep discounts.

If you’re fine with the midnight black version of the Galaxy S8, we recommend waiting a few weeks for Best Buy to open up its sales. The retailer should start taking orders on May 9th.

You Can Unlock Other Galaxy S8 Models

The unlocked Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ come unlocked from the get-go but if they’re too pricey for your blood know that you can unlock other Galaxy S8 models.

It’ll take you some time and maybe some money but it’s a viable alternative to buying the unlocked Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+.

It’s possible to get a SIM unlock code for free but many of you will have to shell out some cash to get one. If you’re on AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile you’ll need to go through some hoops which we’ve outlined in detail here.

If you want to bypass carriers you can also pay for an unlock code. This can be a little bit tricky so you’ll want to do your homework before you buy.

Slow Android Updates

If you decide to buy the unlocked Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+ be prepared to endure a long wait for software updates.

Nothing is confirmed but there’s a very good chance the unlocked models will be late to releases like Android O.

As of right now, the unlocked Galaxy S7 models in the United States are still waiting for their upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat. Some Galaxy S7 models got their Android Nougat upgrade months ago.

Samsung could change things up with the Galaxy S8’s software upgrades but this is something you need to be willing to live with.

Should You Buy the Unlocked Galaxy S8?

So who should spend the cash and buy the unlocked version of the Samsung Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+?

Most people should opt for the regular models but here are a few cases where buying the unlocked model makes sense:

  • If you don’t want to spend the time unlocking the Galaxy S8 yourself.

  • If you hate carrier apps and bloatware. The unlocked models feature a cleaner version of Android 7.0 Nougat.

  • If you don’t want to deal with buying a device through a carrier like AT&T or Verizon. Buying unlocked provides you with the most freedom as the devices are compatible with an array of LTE bands.

For more Samsung Galaxy S8 buying advice, take a look at our early review of its features and performance.

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