U.S. Galaxy S3 pre-order, release date and pricing – what you need to know

June 7, 2012
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Samsung announced on Monday that its 2012 Android flagship smartphone will be available from five U.S. carriers this month, with prices starting at $199. Soon after that, we saw Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and U.S. Cellular announce their own Galaxy S3 versions alongside availability details for each carrier.

In case you’re interested in buying the Galaxy S3 in the US but you’re not sure what carrier to pick, then we got you covered, as we’ll tell you everything you need to know before making the purchase.

What you get?

The Galaxy S3 offered by the five carriers is identical to the international version design-wise, which is certainly surprising considering the garden variety of Galaxy S and Galaxy S2 designs that hit the U.S. in 2010 and 2011, respectively. For once, carriers were not able to convince Samsung to design custom Galaxy S3 versions, which is a step in the right direction. However, crapware apps from each carrier selling the Galaxy S3 will surely be found on board.

But the Galaxy S3 is not entirely similar to the international version when it comes to internal components. Instead of the 1.4 quad-core Exynos processor that equips the international handset, U.S. versions will come with a 1.5 dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU. That’s even if your chosen carrier will not offer LTE support in your market anytime soon. In addition to that processor change, the U.S. Galaxy S3 version will also sport 2GB of RAM, double than the international version.

Verizon Galaxy S3

Verizon was the first carrier to announce the Galaxy S3. The device is now available for pre-order and it will cost either $199.99 or $249.99, for the 16GB or 32GB version, respectively. Those of you not interested in getting a new two-year contract with Verizon will be able to purchase the handset for full price – that’s $599 or $649, depending on the model you choose. Verizon’s Galaxy S3 release date was delayed due to unknown reasons, and is now scheduled for July 9.

What’s worth remembering about Verizon is that the carrier has the largest LTE coverage in the U.S. at this time, so if it’s LTE support that you’re interested in, Verizon could be the way to go.

AT&T Galaxy S3

The second largest mobile operator in the country was the last one to unveil Galaxy S3 launch plans. Initially, AT&T put out a sign-up page for the handset followed by a proper press release. AT&T will sell only the 16GB Galaxy S3 version, also priced at $199.99. The carrier will offer customers a 16GB microSD card for $39 – thus they’d end up with a 32GB Galaxy S3 that costs $238.99. The phone will be available for pre-order starting tomorrow, June 6, although we have no idea when the device will ship.

AT&T’s Galaxy S3 will also come with LTE support, but AT&T’s “real 4G” network can’t be compared with Verizon’s when it comes to coverage. However, AT&T’s “fake 4G” network – it’s HSPA+ network that’s also referred to as 4G, just like T-Mobile’s corresponding network – offers superior data speeds than Verizon’s and Sprint’s 3G CDMA networks, and covers “more than 260 million people.”

Sprint Galaxy S3

Alongside T-Mobile, Sprint was not afraid to announce a release date for the Galaxy S3. The carrier will have it in stores on June 21, with pre-orders starting on June 6. The smartphone will cost $199.99 or $249.99 with new two-year contracts, just like Verizon’s models. Full price for the Sprint Galaxy S3 appears to be in line with Verizon’s too.

The carrier plans to roll out its LTE network in more and more markets later this year, but you may have to keep relying on 3G when it comes to browsing the web from your Galaxy S3 until that happens. The good news is that Sprint has not canceled its unlimited data plans yet, so that could be a good reason to purchase the Samsung phone from this carrier.

Furthermore, Sprint’s Galaxy S3 will come with Google Wallet support too, in case NFC payments are on your agenda.

T-Mobile Galaxy S3

T-Mobile will also launch the Galaxy S3 on June 21, but the carrier is not offering the handset for pre-order. Furthermore, T-Mobile has not specified pricing details at this time although we would expect them to be in line with the competition’s.

What some T-Mobile customers will find annoying is that T-Mobile will sell them the same LTE-ready Galaxy S3 version, even though T-Mobile does not have offer LTE support yet. Some people would argue that the carrier should have gotten the international GSM version that packs that Exynos quad-core processor instead of the LTE model that comes with the dual-core CPU.

However, T-Mobile has its own “fake 4G” network in place, which you could find more suitable for your needs in certain markets than other 3G networks from the competition.

U.S. Cellular Galaxy S3

While U.S. Cellular is just a regional mobile operator that can’t really compete with any of the Big Four, some Galaxy S3 buyers will choose this carrier instead of going with any of the four offers mentioned above. That means they’ll have to wait a while longer to get their Galaxy S3 unit as U.S. Cellular will start pre-orders on June 12 and launch the device only at some point in July.

U.S. Cellular will carry both the 16GB and 32GB of the handset, but pricing details are not available at this time. We’ll also remind you that U.S. Cellular has its own 4G LTE network, so if LTE is a major selling point for you, then you should also consider U.S. Cellular’s Galaxy S3 offer.

Other offers

Those of you interested in getting your hands on an unlocked GSM international Galaxy S3 version – in order to try out that quad-core Exynos CPU that’s found on board – can purchase the device from Amazon and other similar retailers, although you’ll have to pay full price to get it. Or, you could enter our second Galaxy S3 competition to win a free Galaxy S3 unit.

What carrier will you choose for your Galaxy S3 model?

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