Samsung is taking charge of its destiny in the United States, doing something that the number two global smartphone brand hasn’t done before: selling its flagship phones direct to consumers.
It has launched an Apple-esque interface on its site that guides users through the process of customizing their Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+ pre-order. They may also choose which one of the four major carriers that align with (the Verizon version of each costs $720 and $840 total while the other three carriers’ SKUs cost $750 and $850, respectively) and one color out of Midnight Black, Orchid Gray and Arctic Silver. Zero-down, 24-month financing is available straight from Sasmung.
Customers are also presented with an optional add-on of either a free Gear VR with Controller with Oculus content or that plus a 256GB microSD card and a free pair of AKG headphones for $99.99 more. What’s more, there seems to be a special perk exclusively for Sprint customers — they get a $100 Samsung eCertificate with the Gear VR bundle.
Pre-orders should be locked in by noon Eastern on April 17 for free delivery starting on April 20. Samsung is currently not offering unlocked units for sale.
In addition, Samsung is also offering a Premium Care package for the duo of devices. We heard about an enhanced warranty program being rumored as “Samsung Guard S8” earlier on, but the branding seems to be more conservative in America. Samsung has partnered with HelloTech and DISH to be able to branch out service representatives that can hand-deliver replacement phones as needed within hours. It is available direct from Samsung and from your local carrier.
Premium Care does not extend your device’s one-year warranty, but is a separate, contracted service that lasts for however long you pay $11.99 for it on a monthly basis (that’s $144.88 on a yearly basis). It includes accidental damage from drops, spills and cracks in addition to normal wear and tear. There’s one business day delivery for replacement devices. For those who are a little more impatient, an in-person replacement service as facilitated by DISH at the location of your choice, depending on market. Appointments are available between 8am and 5pm local time, any day of the week. Users are entitled to three replacements per year and are subject to a $99 deductible each time.
There’s an in-home onboarding service provided by HelloTech for those who need a tutorial on how to use their phones.
24/7 support comes in the form of the usual communication mediums online and on the phone. There’s also video chat and remote support available, though available seems a little narrow for the former —
we don’t believe the hours actually go from 8am to 11am Eastern, so we’re inquiring with Samsung on that. Mail-in service is the obvious escalation step if things need to be replaced. Samsung also offers a walk-in service, but good luck if you don’t live near one of its 20 retail locations.
Customers who pre-order a device by April 17 can sign onto Premium Care and get the first month for free.
Samsung Mobile US is marking its ground as a seller of its own phones and complementary services for the first time. It’s nice to see some combat happening with the Android giant finally stepping in line with Google and Apple. Whether that makes a difference at the carriers is up to the informed consumer.