Should You Get the Galaxy S8 Unlocked? Pros and Cons

Phone carriers are already taking pre-orders for the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but there's another option that prospective owners should also consider. Buying the handset unlocked from Best Buy gets you some of the best pricing options available for the Samsung's new flagship — with some strings attached.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Best Buy (unlocked)AT&T, Sprint, T-MobileVerizon (unlocked)
S8 Price$725$750$720
S8+ Price$825$850$840
Pre-orders beginMay 9Mar. 30Mar. 30
Release dateTBAApr. 21Apr. 21

So if you haven't clicked pre-order yet on an S8, here's a breakdown of the choices you make by buying one unlocked from Best Buy:

Pro: Great pricing (mostly)

As spotted by The Verge (in pricing that has since been taken down), Samsung's new flagship smartphone will start at $725 from Best Buy, which is $25 cheaper than the $750 that AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are charging for the S8. You'll still get the lowest price by going with Verizon (which also sells the phone carrier-unlocked), which prices the S8 at $720.

The S8+, though, will see its lowest pricing from Best Buy, selling for $825 from the the blue and yellow retailer. That (again) beats AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile by $25, and undercuts Verizon by $15.

MORE: Best Galaxy S6 and S7 Trade-In Deals

Pro: No bloatware from carriers

As iPhone users can attest, smartphones are great without pre-loaded carrier apps that nobody ever wanted. Buying the S8 phones from Best Buy will likely give shoppers the same uncluttered experience, which you should be getting when spending north of $700.

Pro: Choice of carrier

The big perk of an unlocked phone is the option to take it to whichever carrier you so please. You're also not getting forced into a contract with a provider, so you can shop for better plans as often (or as infrequently) as you please.

Con: Android updates

You might be surprised to hear this, but Samsung is even worse than phone carriers when it comes to pushing out updates to Android. How do we know that? This Samsung forum thread shows that unlocked Galaxy S7 owners are still yelling at the company to push Android 7.0 Nougat down to their devices, despite carriers issuing the Nougat update in January.

Con: Waiting longer

While carrier pre-orders are expected to arrive on April 21, Best Buy won't start pre-orders until May 9. Are you patient enough to order your phone more than 2 weeks after the early adopters get theirs?

Con: No monthly payment option

Buying the S8 from Best Buy means paying in-full up front. For those looking to space out their payments over time, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon each offer monthly payment plans where you pay for the phone over 24 or 30 months. Full details on those plans can be found in our S8 Carrier Pricing buying guide.

Photo credits: Sam Rutherford/Tom's Guide

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.