Until now, Samsung's Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge have only been available in the carrier-branded variants within the U.S. The devices have been available on all major networks, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, Metro PCS and Cricket. But now, Samsung has released another purchasing option.
Both the Galaxy S7 and the S7 edge can now be purchased fully unlocked, for use on any compatible carrier. The primary benefit of an unlocked device is the ability to switch carriers at any time, and not be dependent on a single wireless network. This is also a great option for anyone who travels frequently, as having an unlocked device means it will have service when a foreign SIM card is inserted into it. This is particularly useful for the S7 and S7 edge, which can hold a secondary SIM card as an alternative to a micro SD card. Aside from the fact that the unlocked versions are not tied to a specific carrier, these devices offer the same specifications as their carrier-branded counterparts; 1440 x 2560 Super AMOLED display, Snapdragon 820 chipset, 4 GB of RAM and an IP68 waterproof rating.
The new unlocked versions of the S7 and S7 edge will be available for purchase through Amazon, Best Buy, Target and other major smartphone retailers. Of course, buying the device unlocked means paying the full retail price for it all at one time, as opposed to getting a subsidized price with a contract. The appeal to buying a carrier-specific model is that it typically costs the buyer less up front because they are also agreeing to a service contract. Although in some cases the buyer may not actually save money in the long run when the full terms of a contract are taken into account, for many the cost of a smartphone can be more manageable if there is less to pay up front. For most consumers who will probably be keeping their current service for the next two years anyway, buying their device from their wireless carrier will probably suit their needs. But for those looking for a bit more flexibility and freedom, it's nice to have the option of buying the device without being locked into a contract.