Samsung Galaxy S III: U.S. Carrier Showdown
While neither Samsung nor the American carriers involved with the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S III launch have revealed anything, the evidence points to all four major U.S. getting the device in June. That means that AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon should all see the device arrive at some point in the weeks ahead. And while none of them have confirmed it or revealed any specific details, we can break down the pros and cons of each variant.
Last year, the Samsung Galaxy S II launched on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. The devices offered some differences, screen size and data speeds were the two biggest, but they were all relatively similar.
This year though with the Galaxy S III, there should be some glaring differences, both good and bad, that consumers should know about.
So let’s take a look.
AT&T Galaxy S III
1. AT&T has a 4G LTE network in place. This means that the Samsung Galaxy S III that it offers will almost assuredly be 4G LTE in nature. That means that it will be able to pull down data speeds that can reach up to 10 times faster than those on AT&T’s 3G network.
You can see those speeds in the video below.
2. AT&T’s 4G LTE network is currently available in some of the biggest cities in the United States. If you’re a city slicker, you should be able to access 4G LTE data speeds.
1. AT&T’s 4G LTE network, while fast, is only available in a limited part of the country. Right now, it’s only live in just over 30 markets. Rural markets are few and far between at the moment.
2. New customers will have to sign up for a tiered data plan which means that you’ll have to adhere to a monthly data allotment.
3. AT&T has begun throttling grandfathered unlimited data users once they reach the 5GB data mark on its 4G LTE network. Once that threshold is hit, data speeds will drop in speed.
3. If you’re grandfathered into an unlimited data plan, AT&T will allow you to keep that unlimited data plan when signing up for iPhone. But it appears, thanks to a reader, not any other device.
Sprint Galaxy S III
1. Like AT&T, Sprint has a 4G LTE network in place. It’s not live yet, but it will likely be live by the time the Samsung Galaxy S III rolls out. This means that Sprint’s Galaxy S III will likely have 4G LTE capabilities.
2. Sprint, unlike any of the other carriers, offers pure unlimited data. For those that wish to consume unholy amounts of data, Sprint’s Galaxy S III will be the device to pick up.
3. The carrier is also fairly diligent about releasing bug fix updates for its devices. It also has a track record of informing its customers about timelines for updates.
1. Sprint’s 4G LTE network will launch in a grand total of six cities. If you don’t live in one, prepare to use 3G until it goes live. Problem is, Sprint doesn’t plan on completing its roll out until 2014 so many of you could be waiting awhile.
2. It’s also entirely possible that the device will launch without access to 4G LTE.
3. Until 4G LTE arrives, users will be left to deal with Sprint’s 3G CDMA network which, as you can see in the video below, is slow.
T-Mobile Galaxy S III
1. Samsung has announced an HSPA+ version of the device and that means that T-Mobile should be offering it on its HSPA+ 42 network. While not as fast as 4G LTE, it should be fast enough for the average user.
2. The 4G LTE version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus likely won’t feature a quad-core processor like the international HSPA version. But because T-Mobile has an HSPA network, it’s possible that its variant could offer the 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos processor. A quad-core processor would offer better performance and better battery optimization.
4. T-Mobile, like Sprint, communicates information about bug fix and Android updates to its customers in a courteous and timely manner.
1. HSPA+ can’t match 4G LTE in speed. Plain and simple.
2. T-Mobile will be rolling out a 4G LTE network in 2013 and for some, it may not be worth buying into a device that will have an outdated network in the next year or so.
3. The Galaxy S II was a little more expensive on T-Mobile and it’s possible that T-Mobile could charge a premium for the Galaxy S III, especially if it’s quad-core.
Verizon Galaxy S III
1. Verizon has a 4G LTE network in place and that means that it will likely host a 4G LTE version of the Galaxy S III.
2. The carrier’s 4G LTE network is the largest in the land offering as it has expanded to over 200 markets in the United States. It’s unrivaled, especially in rural areas.
1. The carrier is terrible in regards to communication about bug fix updates and Android updates. It took forever for Verizon to update the Samsung Fascinate, the original Galaxy S device, to Android 2.3 Gingerbread and it could take forever for Verizon to get the Galaxy S III to Android 5.0 Jelly Bean.
2. Verizon, with the introduction of a shared data plan this summer, will no longer allow those grandfathered into unlimited data plans to get unlimited data on subsidized devices.