Last month, Samsung finally delivered the Samsung Galaxy S4 on stage at an event in New York City. However, despite announcing a Galaxy S smartphone in the United States for the first time, the company and U.S. carriers failed to deliver the pertinent Galaxy S4 information, including release date and pricing. Since then, bits and pieces have emerged and right now, we have a fractured but interesting Samsung Galaxy S4 U.S. release picture.
This year marked the first year that Samsung launched a Galaxy S branded smartphone in the United States. Rumors suggested that the decision was influenced by American carriers though Samsung never has, and likely never will confirm that. Last year, it was suggested that Samsung moved the Galaxy S3 launch date to a date later in the year because it wanted to put the launch date closer to the U.S. release.
The Samsung Galaxy S2, which arrived in 2011, was announced early in the year but did not arrive until much later in the United States. With the Galaxy S3, Samsung accomplished that goal. It launched the device in May and released the device in the U.S. over the course of June and July. However, Samsung still left off many of the important details.
Galaxy S3 release dates and pricing, unlike the iPhone pricing and release date that comes at Apple launch events, remained missing until well after the Galaxy S3 announcement. And this year, many thought, that by announcing the device in the United States, the issue would be avoided. As we’ve seen, that unfortunately hasn’t been the case.
Instead, there is as much uncertainty about the Samsung Galaxy S4 U.S. release as there was about the Galaxy S3. Carriers have only leaked tiny bits of information and we still are without many of the answers to the big questions.
That said, we do know some things about the plans for U.S. carriers and the Samsung Galaxy S4. So, here now is everything we do know and don’t know about the Samsung Galaxy S4 U.S. release date.
AT&T Galaxy S4
AT&T is one of the only U.S. carriers that has announced pricing for the Samsung Galaxy S4. However, even its pricing announcement has left questions that remain unanswered.
Last month, AT&T announced that the Samsung Galaxy S4 would be coming to shelves for $249.99 on-contract. It did not say whether that would be for the 16GB or the 32GB model. Last year, the Galaxy S3 16GB model arrived for $199.99 so it would be interesting to see Samsung hike its price to $50 over the price of the Galaxy S3, HTC One and the iPhone 5.
That said, it’s also entirely possible that AT&T will offer the 32GB at $249.99. We aren’t sure. Like many of the other U.S. carriers, AT&T has yet to announce a specific release date though it says that it will be taking pre-orders starting April 16th which means that a release should not be too far along after that.
Interestingly, Rogers, a Canadian carrier that often is aligned with AT&T, may release its Galaxy S4 on April 19th. What that means for the AT&T Galaxy S4 remains unclear.
Sprint Galaxy S4
Sprint quickly announced that it would be carrying the Samsung Galaxy S4 some time later this year but thus far, we haven’t seen the carrier release any information in regards to the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 release.
We do know that the carrier will offer it with a pure unlimited data, unlike the other carriers, but for how much and when both remain complete mysteries. Sprint typically has competitive pricing so if AT&T’s Galaxy S4 does indeed arrive for $249.99 it could be that Sprint decides to follow suit.
However, since we don’t know which of the 16GB, 32GB, 64GB models it will be offering, it’s impossible to say at this point. The Sprint Galaxy S4 remains one of the most mysterious devices at this point.
T-Mobile Galaxy S4
Unlike AT&T and Sprint, T-Mobile has offered some specific information regarding its Galaxy S4 release date and pricing. At its UnCarrier event, the Magenta carrier detailed its new off-contract policy and with it, also revealed when it plans to release the Galaxy S4.
T-Mobile will start offering the Galaxy S4 on May 1st. That date comes just a few days after the device is set to arrive in the United Kingdom, which is set to receive the device on April 25th and April 26th. That date is much closer than American carriers have come in the past in terms of Galaxy S release dates and it’s a sign that while there is still mystery in the air, U.S. carriers might release their devices sooner rather than later.
The carrier also revealed that it will charge $99 for the Galaxy S4 but that of course is the cheapest possible down payment, not a subsidized price. Owners of the T-Mobile Galaxy S4 will ultimately have to pay their device off though they won’t be subject to contracts like the offers from other U.S. carriers.
U.S. Cellular Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will be heading to the nation’s fifth largest carrier, U.S. Cellular, which will be hosting the device on its expanding 4G LTE network.
Like AT&T, the carrier has announced that it will be taking pre-orders on April 16th, but unlike AT&T, it has not revealed how much it will be charging for the Galaxy S4. In addition, it has not said exactly when it will be releasing the Galaxy S4.
We imagine that those pieces of information will arrive at some point before April 16th but there is no guarantee. Instead, those looking to snag the device on U.S. Cellular will be in the dark about the carrier’s plans.
Verizon Galaxy S4
Maybe the most sought after Samsung Galaxy S4 is the Verizon Galaxy S4, a device that will find its home on the nation’s largest 4G LTE network. Unfortunately, Verizon, like Sprint, has yet to give any information about its Galaxy S4 release.
Instead, all we have is an FCC filing that confirms the device is on the way but offers nothing as far as release date, pricing or storage space is concerned.
Verizon typically launches its devices last, we saw it happen with the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2, and we imagine that it may be last when it comes to the Galaxy S4 release as well.
Also, it’s unclear if Samsung will offer a Developer Edition of the Verizon Galaxy S4 after launch, one that comes with an unlocked bootloader. Typically, Verizon locks up its bootloaders so that owners can’t install custom software.
Two other carriers will be getting the Galaxy S4 down the road. Cricket Wireless and Sprint MVNO Ting have both confirmed the device for arrival though neither has confirmed specifics.
Ting said that a pre-order would arrive six to eight weeks after the device’s announcement which means that it will, at the earliest, arrive towards the end of this month.
Cricket has not yet revealed any information about its Galaxy S4 and we don’t expect it to until later on this month.
What This All Means
What this means is that the Samsung Galaxy S4 U.S. release is likely going to come down to the wire when it comes to information. Carriers will play their cards close to their chest, just like they did with past Galaxy releases and that of course means that consumers are going to get the brunt of their decision.
At this point, it’s looking like the Galaxy S4 may start at $249 in the United States and that its release date will touch down as early as May 1st. That doesn’t rule out a Galaxy S4 U.S. release in the month of April, and given the pre-orders that start April 16th, it’s possible. However, so far, that’s the only information that the Galaxy S4 launch has afforded us, far less than consumers likely had hoped for, especially with the Galaxy S4 launch taking place in the U.S.