Samsung unveiled its new line of Galaxy smartphones on Wednesday and mobile carriers quickly moved to entice customers to upgrade with a variety of promotional offers and discounts.
All of the carriers offered Samsung’s promotion of a free Gear VR virtual reality headset with Galaxy S8 or S8+ pre-orders, which start at midnight Eastern Time on March 30. That’s similar to an offer Samsung had with last year’s Galaxy S7 that helped distribute millions of Gear VR headsets, which are compatible with Facebook’s Oculus VR software.
The new phones are scheduled to arrive in customers’ hands on April 21. As expected, the full retail prices were somewhat higher than last year’s flagship Samsung models, which the carriers sold for a low as $620.
Verizon was the first carrier to offer a discount on the actual phones, though the offer requires the trade-in of a fairly recent smartphone, a two-year installment pay plan and signing up for an unlimited data plan. Under the Verizon offer, customers would pay just $15 a month for two years, or $360 total, instead of $30 a month, a total of $720, without a trade in, for a Galaxy S8.
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Samsung’s larger screen S8+ would be $20 a month for two years, or $480, under the trade-in discount. Without a trade-in, the larger phone is $840 or $35 a month for two years, Verizon said.
Verizon (VZ) said it also had an enhanced virtual reality offer. For $99, customers could get the Gear VR headset plus a pair of Harmon Kardon headphones and a 256 GB micro SD memory card.
Aside from the carriers, retailer Best Buy (BBY) said it would give pre-order buyers $50 off the S8 and $100 off the S8+ aside from any deals available from a customer’s mobile provider. “Customers can also layer our deal with Samsung’s Gear VR offer and select carrier offers,” a Best Buy spokeswoman said.
Walmart (WMT) said it started pre-orders for the S8 for as little as $659 and the S8+ starting at $759. But prices varied widely by carrier. Phones for use on Sprint, AT&T and Verizon could only be pre-ordered in store, not online. Customers who sign up at Walmart for an installment plan on AT&T, Sprint or Verizon get a additional $150 off.
T-Mobile said it would offer the new phones for pre-order but without a discounted trade-in offer. Customers will pay $750, or $30 up front plus $30 a month for two years, for the S8 at T-Mobile. Participants in T-Mobile’s Jump frequent upgrade plan will pay zero down and $33 a month, the carrier said.
The S8+ is $850 at T-Mobile or $130 plus $30 a month for two years, with the same down payment and monthly price for Jump participants.
The S8 also will be available for $729 at T-Mobile’s (TMUS) MetroPCS subsidiary.
AT&T (T) said it would charge $25 per month for 30 months, or a total of $750, for the S8, and $28.34, or about $850 total, for the S8+. Customers on AT&T’s frequent upgrade plan pay $31.25 a month for 24 months the S8, still a total of $750, or $35.42 for the S8+, totaling $850. Those customers have the right to upgrade every year, however.
AT&T also said it would give a credit of up to $750 for purchase of a second Galaxy S8 phone after an initial S8 purchase. It also offered discounts on Samsung tablets and smartwatches to S8 buyers.
Sprint (S) said it would sell the new Samsung smartphones starting at $750 and $850. But the carrier also offered an 18-month phone leasing deal for $31.25, or a total of $562.50, for the S8 and $35.42, or almost $638, for the S8+. Customers must return the phone at the end of the lease. For customers who pre-order an S8 or S8+, Sprint said it would allow a free upgrade to the next generation Galaxy phone after 12 lease payments.
Verizon Now Offers an Unlimited Data Phone Plan:
The delay followed work on the phones to ensure there would be no repeat of the disastrous exploding battery problems in last year’s Galaxy Note 7.
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(Updated on March 30, 2017, to include Walmart’s offer.)