It's the best Android phone you can buy, no longer shackled to the U.S. carrier system and weighed down by bloatware.
Samsung, seemingly answering the prayers of many a smartphone nerd, today announced that it is selling the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge in the United States unlocked. That is, they'll work on any carrier you want, come without a carrier's preinstalled bloatware, presumably get updates faster — and generally just be more badass.
The unlocked Galaxy S7 costs $669. The unlocked Galaxy S7 edge runs $769. The phones will be sold directly by Samsung, as well as at Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Sam's Club and online from Target. Select distributors also will have access to the unlocked GS7.
A SIM-unlocked phone is less of an aberration in the United States than it used to be. But Samsung — the world's leading Android smartphone manufacturer — has mostly kept to the carrier system over the years. If you wanted a top-end Galaxy phone that wasn't tied to one of the U.S. operators and shackled by their own software hangups, you'd have to import from another country with compatible radio bands. These U.S.-specific unlocked phones will work on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile — and generally speaking any of the smaller operators.
The overall specs remain the same. That means 32 gigabytes of on-board storage (22 of which are accessible to you out of the box, after app updates), supplemented by a microSD card. It's got a Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM, and the best 13MP camera you can find on a phone. The GS7 sports a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display and 3000 mAh battery. The larger GS7 edge has a 5.5-inch display and a 3600 mAh battery. The two phones have lived atop our list of the best Android phones you can buy since their release in the spring.
And now that they're unlocked? Basically, we've got the perfect Galaxy S7.
We've spent the better part of a day with the unlocked Galaxy S7 edge. And guess what. It's an unlocked Galaxy S7 edge. Other than the fact that it's missing out on carrier bloatware and can basically work anywhere you want — including on China's TDD-LTE bands — it's exactly the same phone you can get from a carrier. So on one hand you're not really missing out on too much if you're a homebody. But if you spent a lot of time outside the U.S., you've got a ridiculous amount of options here. I've got a T-Mobile SIM in it right now, and Wi-Fi Calling works out of the box as well.
Every network band you need, and none of the bloatware you don't.
The software experience is exactly the same, too. Well, again, minus the annoying custom carrier stuff. So setup is a little quicker and a little less duplicative. You sign in to Google. And sign in to Samsung's services. Set up a PIN or password, and enroll fingerprints, if you want. And that's it. You get Google's apps. (Minus anything no longer considered top tier, like Google+ or Fit.) You get Samsung Pay and S Voice and — wait a minute. Things are a little different. At setup you'll be asked if you want to also install things like the calculator and the Samsung+ support app, plus Samsung's e-mail app, S Health, Memo and Samsung's browser. (If you opt to not install those apps, the GS7 warns you that "You do not have any applications installed." Cheeky.)
In any event, if one of Samsung's apps is missing and you just have to have it, you should be able to find it in Samsung's "Galaxy Apps" store.
After that, you're in business. It's a minimalist Galaxy S7, insofar as Samsung does anything minimal. (Which is to say, still bigger and better than most.) We'll be spending some more time with this U.S. unlocked Galaxy S7 edge and will update you should we find anything else surprising. But for now, we're just going to enjoy using a phone we wish we'd been able to buy back in March.
- Galaxy S7 review
- Galaxy S7 edge review
- U.S. unlocked Galaxy S7
- Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S7?
- Best SD cards for Galaxy S7
- Join our Galaxy S7 forums
Samsung Introduces Unlocked Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge in the U.S.
Compatible with most U.S. networks, gives more customers access to 'A Galaxy of Possibility'
NEW YORK – June 30, 2016 – Samsung Electronics America, Inc. announced today the launch of network unlocked versions of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge in the U.S. Available starting today, June 30, the unlocked Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge work on most U.S. GSM and CDMA networks1 and put the Galaxy of products, services and experiences within reach of every U.S. customer. The unlocked smartphones are available for purchase on Target's website or from top retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Ebay, Sam's Club and http://Target.com. The unlocked Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge are also available from four distributors, including Ingram Micro Inc., SYNNEX Corporation, Tech Data and Vertex Wireless.
"At Samsung, we listen to our customers to deliver meaningful innovation by offering an ecosystem of mobile products, services and experiences designed to enhance their mobile lifestyle," said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America. "The unlocked Galaxy S7 and S7 edge offer more U.S. customers a way to join the Galaxy family, giving them access to a portfolio of seamless mobile experiences including connectivity to wearables, making payments right from your phone and even virtual reality worlds."
The unlocked versions of these smartphones offer the same cutting-edge design and innovative features as the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge launched earlier this year. With water and dust resistance2, an advanced camera, fast wireless charging3, Always-On Display, Samsung KNOX and unparalleled connectivity to a galaxy of products, services and experiences, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge are redefining what users can do with their smartphones.
High Quality Photos No Matter the Conditions
Combining blink-of-an-eye autofocus for fewer blurry photos, superior low-light photography and significant advancements in video capture, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge give users a chance to capture every memory reliably and true to life. Central to this performance is the groundbreaking dual-pixel technology in the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge rear cameras. The dual-pixel sensor, wider F1.7 aperture, and bigger pixels work together to capture 95 percent more light4 which makes sharp and beautiful photography possible in the low-light environments where most people take most of their photographs—rendering the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge camera all the more versatile and its photographs all the more stunning.
All-Day Battery Life 5
From charging up to holding the charge, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge deliver the best battery experience of any Galaxy device. Fast wired and wireless charging allow users to charge their devices quickly, and the large battery capacity of 3,000 mAh for the Galaxy S7 and 3,600 mAh for the Galaxy S7 edge gives users the power to keep going all day long.
The unlocked versions of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge include Samsung KNOX, the company's defense-grade mobile security platform, built into the device and implemented at the chip level so the device and data is highly secure from the moment it boots up. For the 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) workers, KNOX encrypts work data and personal data separately, providing users with both convenience and peace of mind.
A Galaxy of Possibility
Samsung delivers seamless mobile experiences that enable people to explore, create, move, go and unlock their passions—from being active to stay fit and staying connected while on the go to capturing 360-degree content and discovering new virtual worlds. With the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge at the center, customers will have access to Samsung applications and services like Samsung Pay, Samsung+ and the ability to explore immersive 360-degree content through Samsung Gear VR.
On http://Samsung.com, the unlocked Galaxy S7 is $669.99, and the unlocked Galaxy S7 edge is $769.99.
For more details, visit http://www.samsung.com.
1 - Wireless voice, data and messaging services compatible with GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile and CDMA networks such as Verizon, Sprint and US Cellular®. Support for certain features and services such as VoWiFi and hotspot, vary by wireless service provider. See provider for details. 2 - Water resistant based on IP68 rating, which tests submersion up to 5 feet for up to 30 minutes. Rinse residue/dry after wet. 3 - Fast wireless chargers sold separately. 4 - Compared to Galaxy S6/Galaxy S6 edge camera 5 - Average expected performance based on typical use. Actual battery life depends on factors such as network, features selected, frequency of calls, and voice, data and other application-usage patterns. Results may vary.