Samsung is now taking preorders on unlocked versions of its flagship Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones, which will allow buyers to use the handsets on most of the GSM, CDMA or international cellular networks of their choice.
In an announcement on May 9, the company said the unlocked phones can be ordered exclusively through Samsung.com, BestBuy.com or in Best Buy stores. The unlocked handsets will be available for purchase starting May 31.
The locked models of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ went on sale in the U.S. on April 21, with large displays that are almost bezel-less, powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 64-bit octa-core processors and still-developing integration with Samsung's new Bixby virtual assistant.
"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," Tim Baxter, president and chief operating officer of Samsung Electronics America, said in a 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."
The unlocked Galaxy S8 with a 5.8-inch display is priced at $724.99, while the Galaxy S8+ with its 6.2-inch display is priced at $824.99. Both are available in Midnight Black. The handsets can also be financed through Samsung.com with no interest over 24 months. The unlocked Galaxy S8 can be financed for $30.21 a month, while the Galaxy S8+ can be financed for $34.38 a month for qualified customers. Best Buy customers can also receive 24 interest-free payments using their Best Buy credit card, while both Best Buy and Samsung are also offering trade-in programs which give credit for eligible devices on the purchase of a new unlocked S8 or S8+ handset.
The latest S8 handsets both feature what Samsung is calling its new "infinity" displays, with the S8+ handset featuring a 6.2-inch Super AMOLED quad HD display (2960x1440 resolution, 529ppi) and the S8 getting a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED quad HD display (2960x1440, 570ppi).
The infinity displays feature scaled-down bezels, leaving most of the screen area on the handsets dedicated to the screens. According to Samsung, 83 percent of the S8+ and S8 handset fronts are now dedicated to the actual display by using shrunken bezels.
Other big changes for both new models include the deletion of the front-mounted home button found on earlier Galaxy models, which provided more room to enlarge the screens. There are also facial and iris recognition security capabilities to supplement the fingerprint scanners that are a holdover from the earlier Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets.
The home button for the phones is now located under the glass at the bottom of the displays and offers haptic feedback when pressed by users.
The new 4G LTE phones include the same high-resolution 12-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel autofocus front camera used in the previous Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones and both run the Android 7.0 Nougat operating system. The new phones also include the fast charging and wireless charging capabilities from the earlier models.
The S8+ includes a 3,500mAh rechargeable battery, while the S8 uses a 3,000mAh battery. Both models include 4GB of LPDDR4 memory and 64GB of built-in storage, which can be expanded to 256GB of storage through a microSD card. Both models also include Bluetooth V5.0 connectivity as well as WiFi capabilities and are covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back of the devices.
The handsets are also IP68 water and dust resistant and include Samsung Knox security capabilities for enterprise users. The locked versions of the phones are available in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray or Arctic Silver colors in the U.S.
The handsets are the first new top-of-the-line smartphones from Samsung since the release and eventual global recall last fall of the company's Galaxy Note 7 phablet.
Samsung is depending on the success of the new S8 models to regain confidence with consumers and prepare for what will likely be a release later this year of the Galaxy Note 8 to replace the troubled Note 7. The lessons learned from the Note 7 battery fires and explosions were examined closely to prevent such issues in the design and construction of the latest S8 Galaxy models, according to Samsung.