Samsung hasn’t explicitly said what it plans to unveil at its Unpacked Episode 2 launch event on September 4th but it’s pretty clear that it’s going to be the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. And it’s at that point when we will not only find out when Samsung plans to release its Galaxy Note 2 successor, but we’ll likely find out when the highly anticipated Galaxy Note 3 U.S. release date is.
In August of last year, Samsung did the expected. It announced a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to replace the original Galaxy Note which had landed on AT&T and T-Mobile in the months previous. The Galaxy Note 2 was expected thanks to the success of the original Galaxy Note on AT&T and it delivered on many of the expectations of its users.
One of the key things that arrived with the Galaxy Note 2 were its carrier options. Instead of only being available on AT&T and T-Mobile, the Galaxy Note 2 came to Sprint, U.S. Cellular and Verizon as well. This, along with its superior hardware, software and S Pen, made it an extremely attractive device at launch.
The Galaxy Note 2 is still one of the best Android devices on the market to this day but that hasn’t stopped Samsung from developing a new device. Rumors point to a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on the horizon, upgrades and all.
Leaks suggest that the Galaxy Note 3 will come with a larger display with higher resolution. That it will be coming with a better camera and processor. That it will be coming with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, Google’s latest. There is also talk that it, like the Galaxy Note 2, will be coming to the United States and quite possibly, to a host of carriers. In other words, the Galaxy Note 3 is a device that consumers in the U.S. likely have on their radars ahead of September 4th.
One of the big remaining questions about the Galaxy Note 3 is its release date. And while we took a broad look at what to and what not to expect from the Galaxy Note 3’s release date, it’s time to take an in depth dive into what consumers in the U.S. can expect from the Galaxy Note 3 U.S. release date when it arrives.
We’ve touched over this before, but we’ll gloss over it again for those that may not have heard. Samsung, when it comes to flagship device launches in the United States, is not like Apple in that it doesn’t dictate when carriers will launch its devices. Instead, Samsung typically offers consumers a window like “by end of April” and carriers take things from there.
In the United States, this usually means release dates rather than release date. For instance, with the Galaxy S4, we saw an assortment of release dates in the U.S. as carriers fit the new flagship into their release pipelines.
With the Galaxy Note 3, consumers should expect the same. A staggered Galaxy Note 3 U.S. release window that spans over a few days or quite possibly, a few weeks.
Different Pre-Order Dates
Same goes for pre-order dates in the U.S. We do expect there to be pre-orders for the Galaxy Note 3, given the past success of the Galaxy Note 2, and we expect those pre-orders to fall on different dates. That doesn’t mean that all of them will, just that there won’t be a universal date for Galaxy Note 3 pre-orders to kick off.
Generally, pre-orders start a few weeks ahead of a device’s release and more often than not, we get a specific release date that is tied to the pre-order. However, consumers should brace for the possibility of at least one Galaxy Note 3 U.S. pre-order starting without a concrete release date in place. It seems to happen during every launch.
Sprint and U.S. Cellular Among First
With the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S4, Sprint and U.S. Cellular were two of first carriers to produce release dates. While neither will say exactly why they were among the first, it’s pretty clear that they need to take every advantage that they can get.
U.S. Cellular is a regional carrier, and thus, a far less attractive option than carriers like AT&T and Verizon. Its 4G LTE network is expanding, but it’s still small. Sprint has pure unlimited data to lean on, but it’s still a much smaller 4G LTE carrier than AT&T and Verizon and it remains stuck in third place. T-Mobile is now breathing down its neck with its own 4G LTE network.
Point is, by getting their devices out first, these two carriers can scoop up a few customers they might normally not have gotten had they released much later in the game.
With Verizon and AT&T boasting massive 4G LTE networks and T-Mobile now entering the fray, these two carriers need all the help they can get with the Galaxy Note 3. So expect them to release first.
And then there is the other end of the spectrum which is typically occupied by Verizon. Big Red loves to launch its flagship devices much later than everyone else. Possibly for software related reasons. Possibly due to other devices. Possibly because it likes to watch its customers squirm. Or all or none of the above. It’s not clear.
What is clear is that Verizon’s track record points to it being the last U.S. carrier to the Galaxy Note 3. If anything other than this happens, hell will probably freeze over. Expect the Verizon Galaxy Note 3 to be the caboose of the Galaxy Note 3 U.S. release train.
Similar Prices at Launch, Sans T-Mobile
We expect all five of the largest U.S. service providers to get the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. And we expect them all, except for T-Mobile, to offer the device for a price somewhere in the neighborhood of $250-$299.99 on release day. The previous two Galaxy Note models have been priced at $299.99 on-contract and there is no indication that Samsung will be shifting from that. After all, the Galaxy S4 arrived for the usual $199.99.
T-Mobile, for those not keeping track, recently switched to off-contract pricing because it no longer requires a contract to bring a device to its network. What this means is that users, instead of subsidized pricing, will find unsubsidized pricing. This means a different pay structure, not a vastly different price.
Consumers heading to T-Mobile will likely find themselves starring in the face of total cost of around $600 for the Galaxy Note 3. T-Mobile will require a down payment, probably something around $150, at which point users will then need to pay $20 a month until the full price is paid off.
Either way you slice it, the Galaxy Note 3 is going to be an expensive smartphone thanks to its large screen and bundled S Pen.
That’s not to say that there won’t be discounts on release day. There will indeed be discounts though consumers will likely find the deepest ones for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. That’s because those devices will likely be available through places like Amazon and Wirefly. U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile devices don’t typically show up there.
Amazon and Wirefly may slash as much as $50 off the price of the Galaxy Note 3, at release, offering a deep discount on Samsung’s new phablet. It’s possible that we’ll see T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular offer their own deals but we expect them to be tailored for new customers only and not upgraders.
Carriers to Sweeten Offers
Something else to expect from the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 U.S. release date are carrier perks. With the Moto X, we saw U.S. Cellular toss in a pair of $60 headphones to sweeten the deal. With the HTC One, we saw carriers throw in a free HTC Double Dip or flip case to attract buyers.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will likely sell very well in the U.S. so there may be less incentive for carriers to offer something bundled in, but we wouldn’t be surprised if one or two or more tried to stand out by offering up a Galaxy Note 3 accessory to those that pre-order the device.
One Storage Option
Expect there to be one storage option, across all carriers, on release day. There are rumors that suggest that carriers could be moving to a 32GB Galaxy Note 3 instead of a 16GB variant but that remains uncertain. It’s possible that it could just be joining the 16GB model on shelves. Whatever the case may be, expect there to only be on storage option when the Galaxy Note 3 first arrives.
Samsung typically offers 16GB, 32GB and 64GB devices, but it’s up to carriers to offer them. With the Galaxy S4, we saw AT&T and Verizon offer the 32GB model, but it wasn’t available from the start. Carriers in the U.S. have never offered 64GB variants of the Galaxy S or Galaxy Note. Expect the same thing from the Galaxy Note 3, if there are even options at all.
AT&T: Accessory King
Those who will be in the market for Samsung Galaxy Note 3 accessories will want to keep an eye on AT&T. Last year, with the Galaxy Note 2, AT&T had accessories available much faster than other carriers. In fact, it had a Galaxy Note 2 Otterbox case available before it even appeared on Otterbox’s own website.
It may not sell any of Samsung’s official Galaxy Note 3 gear but AT&T should have the best, or at least one of the best, Galaxy Note 3 accessory selections available at release.