Lusting for Samsung’s latest smartphone, the Galaxy S5? The wait is almost over. Three of the major U.S. wireless carriers will soon be accepting pre-orders, and they’re all expected to ship the Android phones by mid-April.
Unfortuntely, there is one possible problem: Rumors out of the trade press in Asia suggest that Samsung has run into production delays, and that could slow availability. Rumors from similar sources have a mixed record of accuracy, but none of the carriers announced a firm shipping date, so there may be something to the speculation. Either way, there’s likely to be heavy demand for the S5, and ordering yours sooner than later is not a bad idea.
Here’s what you need to know about U.S. pre-orders.
AT&T was first to announce that it is accepting pre-orders as of today, Friday, March 21. You can sign a two-year contract and pay $199.99 for the phone. You can also put no money down and pay either $25 per month (for 18 months) or $32.50 per month (for 12 months) with an AT&T Next plan. And as you might expect, AT&T is also offering a no-contract option with a full retail price of $649.99.
Ma Bell is sweetening the deal by tying it to Samsung’s line of wearable devices. The Gear 2 costs $299, the Gear 2 Neo costs $199, and the Gear Fit costs $199. All three are available for preorder. Customers who purchase the Galaxy S5 before June 5 will receive $50 off either the Gear 2 or Gear 2 Neo.
Sprint is also taking pre-orders today, and like AT&T, it is offering a tie-in to other Samsung products. Pricing on the S5 is almost identical to AT&T’s, but as a bonus Sprint will give you the Galaxy Tab 3 if you pre-order the phone and sign up for a Framily Plan. (That’s no typo. It’s what Sprint calls its Friends and Family Plan.)
T-Mobile said it will begin accepting preorders for the Galaxy S5 on Monday, March 24, and the phone should reach T-Mobile retail stores on April 11. T-Mobile customers can get the Galaxy S5 for 24 monthly payments of $27.50, with no money down, which works out to a total price of $660. However, the company didn’t say when pre-ordered phones will ship, and I bet supply in the company’s retail stores will be limited. Customers who pre-order the GS5 before March 31 receive a $120 discount off the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablet, with a free 200MB of data per month for the life of the tablet.
Verizon has not yet announced pre-order pricing or availability, but I’m sure it will do so fairly soon. US Cellular is taking pre-orders now, and you can order at a Radio Shack store, but you have to show up in person. No doubt the S5 will also be sold at Best Buy, but those plans have not yet been announced.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.