All we know about the Samsung Galaxy S3 in the United States: Prices, availability, versions, and release date

May 4, 2012
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[Update June 6] We’ve put together a new roundup of all the information you need to get the Galaxy S3 in the United States, including pre-orders, availability, pricing and versions for all the networks that will carry the Samsung Galaxy S3 in the US: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. Check it out here.

Last night in London, Samsung unveiled its next Galaxy flagship phone, the long awaited and much rumored Galaxy S3. We’ve seen the specs of the new Galaxy S3, we’ve seen its design, and how it stands up against its top competitors. We’re sure that, by now, most of you want to know when you will be able to buy this amazing device and at what price.

So, American readers, we’ve scoured the web, scrutinized every piece of Samsung official material, and listened to every last shady rumormonger to bring you all we know about the Samsung Galaxy S3 availability, release date, and price in the US. Here we go.

Samsung Galaxy S3 in the United States

Last year, US customers were among the last in the world to get the Samsung Galaxy S2. Carrier interference and bad management were cited as reasons for the staggered rollout. But will history repeat itself with the S3? We don’t think so, fortunately!

Samsung Galaxy S3 US carriers

Last year, the Galaxy S2 came to almost every major American carrier (in one form or another), except for Verizon, who got the Galaxy Nexus exclusivity instead. This is why we believe that the Galaxy S3 will be available across the board, and it will probably even grace Verizon this time.

Samsung US put up a registration page, so you can get fresh info on the availability of the S3 in the US. In the registration form, you can see that all big four carriers and a few smaller ones are listed:

  • AT&T
  • C Spire Wireless
  • Metro PCS
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • US Cellular
  • Verizon

As The Verge notes, this could be a random list, but also, it’s odd that Cricket and a few other second-tiers are missing, which may indicate that the list is based on actual release plans.

Also from The Verge’s sources, we learned that at least Sprint is in the race to get the Galaxy S3. Sprint did collaborate with Samsung well for the previous two iteration of the S series, so this seems most plausible. We don’t have yet concrete information or even rumors about AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile, but, again, it’s highly probable that all three will carry the Samsung Galaxy S3.

The skinny: The Galaxy S3 will probably come to all major US carriers, and several of the smaller ones.

Samsung Galaxy S3 US hardware versions

As you probably know, the Galaxy S3 will be available in both 3G and 4G LTE versions. On the registration page we’ve talked about above, Samsung says that “Appearance of device may vary. Some features may not be available in all areas.” In addition, we’ve heard from the product press release that the specifications “may vary” for the LTE version of the device.

Also, older rumors indicate that the US versions of Samsung’s flagship will come with a Snapdragon S4 SoC instead of the Exynos 4 Quad chip found on the global version, supposedly to accommodate the LTE radio. This is what happened with HTC’s flagship, the One X, which dropped the quad-core Tegra 3, in favor of the same S4 chip from Qualcomm. As Android and Me speculates, one other possibility would be that Samsung will use its new dual-core Exynos 5 chip in the US, but that seems a bit of a stretch.

Most likely, the Samsung Galaxy S3 will come with a dual-core Snapdragon S4 chip in the US, for all three LTE carriers: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. T-Mobile, on the other hand, runs a 4G HSPA+ network, meaning that the carrier will be able to range the global version, or at least, a version that contains the quad-core Exynos chip found in the global version.

As for names, skins, and other specifications for the US versions of the Samsung Galaxy S3, we really can’t predict anything at this point. Last year’s Galaxy S2 arrived stateside in a variety of forms, not to mention names. We just hope that, this time, Samsung will be able to impose its will against the mighty US carriers and we’ll have fewer variants and fewer mouthfuls of names.

The skinny: The Galaxy S3 will probably come in dual-core LTE versions on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, and in the quad-core version on T-Mobile.

Samsung Galaxy S3 US release date

At the Unpacked event last night, Samsung didn’t offer a concrete release date for the Galaxy S3 in the US. We saw a big slide that said “USA in June”, but we can’t tell if that referred to the launch of the device or the actual availability in stores. What we do know is Samsung will do local launch events around the world, and one of the cities included in the tour is New York. We can expect more precise information when this event takes place.

Now, we do have some rumors and tidbits that can help us guess when the Galaxy S3 will reach American shores. First, the Olympic Games are upon us, and we are sure that Samsung (a major Olympic sponsor) will do its best to make its shiny new superphone available on shelves by the opening ceremony, which is on July 27.

Of course, if Samsung has its way, the device will be available much sooner than that, hopefully, in June. In a press statement, Samsung US said that the device will come to the States “this summer”, which pretty much excludes the possibility of a May release. The good news is we can also pretty much exclude the possibility of the S3 coming to the US five or six months after its announcement, like it happened last year with the S2.

The skinny: The Galaxy S3 will probably be released in the US in the June-July interval.

Samsung Galaxy S3 US price

Not much to say here, unfortunately. However, the Galaxy S3 will be Samsung’s flagship for at least this year, so don’t expect it to come cheap.

Most likely, you’ll be initially able to get the Galaxy S3 for $299 on a two-year contract from most carriers, although, we can’t rule out a smaller, $199 price tag. As always, expect Amazon Wireless and others to offer discounted prices a bit later in the game.

As for the contract-free, unlocked version of the Galaxy S3, we expect that it will cost you about $700. We made this assumption based on the pricing of Samsung’s previous flagships such as the S2 or the Note, as well as the price tags of competing devices, such as the HTC One X or the Droid Razr MAXX.

The roundup

To recap: We expect that the Samsung Galaxy S3 will become available in the US over the next two months, from all major carriers, in an LTE dual-core version and the quad-core version on T-Mobile. Expect to pay $199-$299 for a two-year contract and about $700 for an unlocked model.

[Update June 6] We’ve put together a new roundup of all the information you need to get the Galaxy S3 in the United States, including pre-orders, availability, pricing and versions for all the networks that will carry the Samsung Galaxy S3 in the US: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. Check it out here.

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