Samsung is today announcing something that should make more than few smartphone fans happy: it is now selling unlocked versions of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge in the US. The unlocked phones, which work on all major US carriers, including CDMA carriers such as Sprint and Verizon, are available direct from Samsung or through Amazon, Best Buy, Ebay, Sam’s Club, and Target. The standard S7 is available in black and costs $669.99, while the S7 Edge is available in silver for $769.99.
The S7 and S7 Edge are excellent phones, and in my review of them earlier this year, the few complaints I had centered around the excessive amount of bloatware installed on the devices by US carriers. Unlocked versions not only allow you to change carrier at will, but they also come free of the carrier apps that Samsung customers are so familiar with. Beyond that, Samsung is also allowing customers of the unlocked phone to choose whether or not to have Samsung's calculator, email, internet browser, or other apps installed on the device. (The preloaded apps that are here include Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Samsung's Galaxy Apps store, and the usual suite of Google apps.)
The unlocked models come free of all carrier bloatware
The unlocked versions of the S7 and S7 Edge being sold in the US have the same hardware features as their carrier locked counterparts, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 12-megapixel cameras. They are also water resistant and feature both fast charging and wireless charging. They also have support for Samsung Pay and full manufacturer warranties.
Unlocked phone sales have been growing in recent years, as carriers have moved away from two-year contracts and allow more customers to bring their own phones. This isn’t the first time that Samsung has sold unlocked versions of its phones in the US - last year, it quietly put a GSM version of the Galaxy S6 up for sale in its online store - but it is still a notable move for a company that’s so often relied on carriers to sell its phones. Still, unlocked phone sales pale in comparison to how many phones are purchased through carriers, especially for a company like Samsung. In light of that, Samsung isn’t likely to abandon its strategy of selling phones hand over fist through carriers anytime soon, but today’s announcement is a move that should placate the handful of people that buy unlocked phones each year.