As many consumers know, there are two big smartphone launches planned for the United States in the next couple of weeks. Those two devices are of course the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4, two of the most heavily rumored smartphones of 2013 and two of the most anticipated. And while they are official, pieces to their release date puzzle remain and that means that it’s time to make some bold predictions about what will transpire.
Last year, two of the more popular smartphones on the market were the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X. Those, for many months, represented the best that the companies had to offer. Given their successes, it was not surprising to see the anticipation for their successors start to bubble around the turn of the year.
Around the end of 2013, the HTC M7, which would ultimately become the HTC One, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 were the talk of the town. Rumors popped up on a daily basis which ultimately culminated with the two device launches which happened in the last few weeks.
In February, HTC unveiled the HTC One, a device with a 4.7-inch 1080p display, quad-core processor, Ultrapixel camera and HTC Sense 5, amongst other features. At the time, the company confirmed the device for three carriers, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. As we’ve seen though, the HTC One launch did not kick off without a hitch and as we push into April, consumers are still waiting for the device. Pre-orders are live for AT&T and Sprint but T-Mobile remains mum about a pre-order and a release date.
The Samsung Galaxy S4, which arrived in March, features a larger 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core processor, 13MP camera and a new version of TouchWiz. It has been confirmed for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon though only T-Mobile has offered a release date so far. Like the HTC One release, there are some mysteries that remain.
That said, ahead of the official announcements, it’s time to make some predictions about the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One U.S. releases. Here are five of them.
Galaxy S4 Pre-Orders Will Arrive on All Carriers
On April 4th and April 5th respectively, AT&T and Sprint began taking pre-orders for the HTC One. T-Mobile has yet to offer a pre-order for its HTC One, but Best Buy seems to be handling that for it, at least for the time being. T-Mobile may never take pre-orders for the device, it’s unclear.
As for the Samsung Galaxy S4, it currently has two pre-orders that are live in the form of the U.S. Cellular Galaxy S4 pre-order and the pre-order for the AT&T Galaxy S4. Sprint and Verizon remain light on any details though we imagine that they will announce the device and take pre-orders in the days to come.
T-Mobile isn’t fond of Galaxy pre-orders, it did not take them for the Samsung Galaxy S3, but it did take them for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The fact that it hasn’t taken HTC One pre-orders yet is a sign that it may skip pre-orders for the Galaxy S4, but given the magnitude of the Galaxy S4 launch, we would be surprised if it didn’t unleash one.
Verizon Will Be Last to Both
Only one Samsung Galaxy S4 release date is unknown right now. Last month, T-Mobile announced that it would be releasing the Samsung Galaxy S4 on May 1st, a date that falls in line with rumors that suggested May or June for the U.S. Galaxy S4 release date. All other carriers, including AT&T and U.S. Cellular, which are taking pre-orders, have yet to release any information.
The HTC One on the other hand will be out on April 19th on AT&T, Sprint and likely T-Mobile, and rumors suggest that it will be out on Verizon at some point as well. However, despite some evidence that suggested Verizon could be releasing it soon, we think that Verizon will definitely be last in line for an HTC One or an HTC One-like variant.
Same goes for the Samsung Galaxy S4. We expect to see staggered Galaxy S4 release dates in the U.S. and therefore, we expect Verizon to bring up the rear as it normally does.
We expect Verizon to release the Galaxy S4 in May, but the release of an HTC One may not come until way later.
Price Cuts Within a Week
As we’ve mentioned, carrier pricing for flagship devices typically get undercut by third-party retailers like Amazon and Wirefly. Already, we’ve seen Wirefly discount the Sprint HTC One price down to $150 on-contact for all customers, a price that should hold, even after the Sprint $99.99 deal for new customers ends. We expect Amazon to start carrying it after launch and likely have a price discount of around $30-50 after the models arrive later this month.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will likely experience the same fate with retailers offering price cuts on the Galaxy S4 shortly after it arrives in the weeks to come. We’re not talking $100 discounts right away, those won’t arrive for at least a few weeks, but we do expect to see $20-$50 knocked off the price, across most carriers, within a week of their arrivals.
Carriers Won’t Sell Out of Either Device
While the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One might be competing with the iPhone 5, we don’t think they will sell out like the iPhone 5 did back in September of last year.
Samsung has said that the plastic design of the Galaxy S4 allows it to produce devices in mass quantity to keep up with demand and we saw the company easily keep up with demand for the Galaxy Note 2 last year. It also likely learned from the production issues that interrupted last year’s Galaxy S3 launch and applied them to the Galaxy S4 launch.
So while it will be a popular smartphone, consumers shouldn’t expect to have a hard time finding one once release day comes around.
As for the HTC One, its launch issues were reportedly caused by supply issues. Remember, it was originally supposed to arrive in March. However, we think that HTC probably has patched up the issues else we would have seen pre-order sell outs or heard rumblings of problems. So, while the HTC One will be a popular phone, don’t expect a sell out.
Verizon Branding Will Frustrate Buyers
Anyone that has seen the Verizon BlackBerry Z10 or the Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note 2 knows that Verizon loves to muck up designs by putting its branding all over its phones.
With the BlackBerry Z10 it was a logo on the front of the phone, with the Galaxy Note 2, it was the home button that was branded with a Verizon Wireless logo.
We expect Verizon to plaster its branding on the Samsung Galaxy S4, possibly the home button, and on the HTC One as well when it arrives as well. As we saw with the Galaxy Note 2, this branding style frustrated buyers who simply wanted a clean look for their brand new smartphone. And while other carriers opted to comply, Verizon decided to market itself on its devices.
Smart for business, bad for those that love design.