Samsung recently took the wraps off the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus. The long-rumored devices are far from revolutionary upgrades but represent a smart iterative update to a great smartphone lineup. The new mechanical aperture camera system sounds extremely interesting and Samsung somehow found a way to stick massive screens in an even smaller body. Last year’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus were two of the best phones of the year, so a small update is probably pretty smart.
One of the biggest points of contention before the devices were launched was the asking price. There were some reports that the larger of the devices could fetch up to $1,000. While annoying, it wasn’t too far out of the realm of possibility as the Galaxy Note 8 had asked for the same price late last year.
But, a funny thing happened when Samsung gave us all the details. They were priced… sanely? The Galaxy S8 comes in at $720, where the Plus is another $120 higher at $840. This is still a ton of money, but in terms of cell phone prices, it’s far, far away from the rumored $1,000 asking price.
I was pretty happy. That is until I saw what carrier pricing was.
As I wrote up our article on pricing and availability for the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, it became quickly apparent to me that almost no-one was going to pay these prices. Here’s how the pricing at US carriers breakdown:
- T-Mobile: Galaxy S9- $720, Galaxy S9 Plus- $840
- AT&T: Galaxy S9- $790, Galaxy S9 Plus- $915
- Sprint: Galaxy S9- $792, Galaxy S9 Plus- $912
- Verizon: Galaxy S9- $800, Galaxy S9 Plus- $930
We can take a couple of things away from these prices. First off, thank you T-Mobile for not price gouging your customers on these beautiful new devices. Whatever you think of T-Mobile, it’s generally pretty good about keeping prices pretty close to MSRP for devices.
Secondly, it looks like the other three carriers had generally the same idea about what they wanted to charge for Samsung’s new device. It’s not good enough that these carriers make boatloads of money off your monthly subscriber and overage fees, they also apparently need to overcharge you for a new device too. Maybe they were hoping that while they charge you a smaller monthly fee while you finance the device (which is a de-facto contract), you won’t mind paying almost $100 more for your device. That’s crap.
For the last couple of years, Samsung has sold its best devices unlocked. Normally, you’d have to wait several months after the carrier stores to pick one up and pay full price, but that’s not the case this year. Not only will a device directly from Samsung be cheaper, but it’ll come carrier unlocked out of the box and without the bloatware apps and restrictions carriers place on the phones they sell. And oh yeah, you can finance your device through Samsung too.
Samsung is also offering a trade-in program too that can net you a pretty penny. Select devices will get you up to $350 off your brand new Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9 Plus that will bring the prices down to $369.99 and $489.99 respectively. You can find all the available devices and their trade in values here.
Pre-ordering for the new flagships starts tomorrow, March 2. If you can’t go through Samsung and you don’t want to donate your money to the carriers, Best Buy will offer $100 off on both models for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon variants. (Seriously, can we please get T-Mobile devices in Best Buy stores at some point?!). That deal is for customers who want to pay the price up front or finance, so no restrictions there.
It’s ridiculous that carriers are jacking up the price on the best phone on the market. They don’t need the extra money and they’re already trapping you in a de-facto 24-month contract. Don’t think that’s true? Just pay off all four devices at once when you want to switch carriers.
Samsung should be applauded for keeping prices low, but the carriers deserve all the crap being dished out to them on social media right now. If you can, I’d suggest picking up your new device directly from Samsung.