Galaxy S III

Samsung and Verizon pulled a shocker this afternoon by announcing an unlocked "developer" model of the Verizon Galaxy S III. The idea makes sense, and we've heard Motorola make similar statements, but this is one nobody saw coming. But not all is rosy, because the only way to get one is by paying full price from Samsung, and there's no guarantee that you'll get warranty service if needed.

Two schools of though clash here. On one side, it's a you break, you buy sort of thing when you start hacking your phone. And buying it off contract means Verizon doesn't have to subsidize a phone you may break. On the other hand, the timing of this pretty much sucked, and people are being punished because they can't afford a phone off contract. Which side do you fall on? Are you going to grab one? Hit the poll!


Reader comments

Late-night poll: Samsung and Verizon are offering a developer Galaxy S III, are you buying?


You bet I am! I had already paid out of contract prices on Verizon S III and I planned to return it the moment I heard about the bootloader being locked. Looks like I'll still have to return it so they need to hurry up and release this!

Since I recently got the galaxy nexus on big red, no... but if I was in need of a phone on Verizon, I would buy this for sure.

However, all things considered, I think my next phone is going to be GSM... LTE is great and all but looking at the GSM Galaxy Nexus price of $350 is making me want to move to GSM and buy un-subsidized phones from now on. I have Wifi 95% of my day so the awesome speeds of LTE just aren't that important to me.

I'm thinking I'm in this boat as well. While I love Verizon's LTE network, I miss just swapping a SIM when I travel internationally. And if my phone breaks as it stands, it's a real pain since I only have older Verizon 3G phones. Add to that the fact that most Verizon LTE phones have different size SIM cards (i.e. Rezound is regular, others using micro), it's not an easy swap anyway.

AT&T has LTE here so I'm not losing that much. If I stay with Verizon, then yes, this would be the GS3 to buy as I usually buy off contract anyway. However, I'm also looking to see what the Note 2 brings so I'm holding off for now.

I bought the phone at full retail from verizon, and won't get it until the 19th anyways. So unless samsung takes forever to release this one, i would rather have an unlocked one.

I'm just curious if kernels/radios will be interchangeable between the two Verizon devices if the non dev one gets decrypted. I'm not too knowledgeable when it comes to coding and bootloaders I just enjoy flashing different things and really don't like the fact I might face some trouble because Verizon screwed everyone over who bought a subsidized one. Come on guys can do it!

This is way too confusing for customers. I would keep the original release from Verizon (if I were under their service) because I'm sure the gs3, without a custom ROM and kernel, is a great device. I wish my captivate had dual core processor and 2 gb of ram. Yeah, It's fun to flash and test different custom ROMs, which make up for the borked gps, but I'd like a stable phone that has ALL the features working properly.

I agree ... the Captivate was a great phone for the time aside from the GPS sucking. It was probably one of the phones I've only truly loved owning.

It worked amazingly well - especially once you got it on a European network that actually worked. :D

The question is how many devs are willing to shell out that kind of money for the unlocked version. My old HTC Desire had a lot of development thanks to the fact that it sold like cheese and wine at a french medieval festival. Plenty of devs got their hand on the phone, not sure they would have put up 600$.

Couldn't we as a community offer donations to a dev to buy this model for the phone and extract a the bootloader and work on working it onto the Verizon stock phones. Then subsidized customers can modify it too.

I'm glad to see that Samsung stepped up and is giving this as an option for the few that don't like the fact of a lock bootloader, BUT! I hear that there are some Devs over at XDA that have successfully unlocked the bootloader so I don't see that many people returning them but again I'm glad Samsung stepped up and decided to cater to the tech enthusiasts out there.

I'm glad to see that Samsung stepped up and is giving this as an option for the few that don't like the fact of a lock bootloader, BUT! I hear that there are some Devs over at XDA that have successfully unlocked the bootloader so I don't see that many people returning them but again I'm glad Samsung stepped up and decided to cater to the tech enthusiasts out there.

I'm glad to see that Samsung stepped up and is giving this as an option for the few that don't like the fact of a lock bootloader, BUT! I hear that there are some Devs over at XDA that have successfully unlocked the bootloader so I don't see that many people returning them but again I'm glad Samsung stepped up and decided to cater to the tech enthusiasts out there.

I would if I was on VZW. But I'm not I'm on tmobile where if you pay outright for your phone your service is cheaper. I hope VZW would do the same here. Plus with all the hate comments towards VZW cause of this it would be a smart move. If VZW isn't going to give you guys support then you should atleast get a price break on your plan.


This is exactly why I'm leaving Verizon when my contract runs out and going to T-Mobile. If the phone isn't subsidized, the service should be cheaper. Duh.

If Verizon changes their policy before my contract runs out, I'm still switching. I'm just tired of giving my money to the big, red, blood sucking Vampire. I'll go give it to the little pink company with the hot chick.

Lets get honest for a moment,... The problem is that the US carriers want to be more than just cellular service providers, and want the phones to be an extension of their "service". To do so, they subsidize the phone, but load it up with crappy bloatware that tries to make you pay extra for stuff that is available for free in the Android market.

The subsidized phones are too tempting to pass up, but only your parents are stupid enough to pay a monthly fee to use AT&T Familymap when Latitude and a dozen other apps provide the same service for free. Since almost everyone has gullible parents that don't know better, this business model becomes much more lucrative for VZ, AT&T, etc., than just providing quality phone/data service.

Their business tactics should be ILLEGAL. They probably make more money bilking people for services that should be free, then they do from actually providing phone/data service.

I agree with you, but that`s the price for our freedom in this country! Look out the USA, all the phone has no contract, you don`t like this carrier just swap the SIM card and you`re free. As we paying for the phone, we should have the freedom to do what ever we want. But in the USA it`s the opposite. You want freedom? that`s what you get.

Happy with my Galaxy Nexus and Jelly Bean. I'd rather pay full price for whatever the next Nexus is going to be.

First off, it needs to be offered beyond Verizon.
And then if Sammy gave good solid open support for Cyanogen, then the phone could be considered semi-Nexus. A phone that gets a good quality version of the latest OS fairly quickly.

This is how it's offered on other carriers (unlockable bootloaders). That's why VZW's decision to lock the bootloader has been so controversial. So your comment is a bit of a moot point, but hopefully you're pleasantly surprised.

I think the bigger question is if VZW is willing to do this, does this make the possibility of a VZW compatible future Nexus phone more realistic?

My understanding is that Verizon's compatibility issues re:Nexus is due to the patented portions of CDMA radio code. The GSM code is more easily available.

I am not as concerned about that now that the Verizon Galaxy Nexus has rejoined AOSP support with the release of the CDMA/LTE binaries. My concern is that if Verizon is locking the SIII bootloader, they may want to avoid the next Nexus all together. Unless they can strike another deal with Samsung to sell it on the side, I don't anticipate Verizon selling another Nexus.

Where's the button for hell no? No doubt, the GS3 is very nice, but its nothing revolutionary compared to our nexus. You can pick up a vzw galaxy nexus for less than this, and if you find a decent used one with a clean esn, your looking at possibly half that price. I know this because I've been shopping for one, my wife hates her Xperia Play.

sorry, but I'd rather have the A5, even though a used A4 will "look" just as new once the scuff marks have been buffed out...

honestly, I'd rather go back to my original DInc than the Nexus.

damn! this smells like a big money grab. $600 for an unlocked phone that should have been unlocked from the beginning!? they can pound sand!

Where's the "I would in a heartbeat but I don't have the money for an off contract phone" button?

Of course, if I WERE to have enough money to buy that, I'd leave the family plan and get it through at&t, big red has alienated me as a customer, their network speeds ain't worth it anymore.

Would all you on the Nexus dick mofos shut the fuck up! This article isn't about you! The camera sucks on the Nexus. That was enough for me to take it back. I'm actually interested in the SGIII and would like to know more about it.


I've also been screwed in the past with "Google devices" (Xoom) that were supposed to "get it first", when it came to OS upgrades and such... never again!

Short fuse? There's not that much, and several of them are actually weighing on what they think about this as a developer phone vs. the gnex as a developer phone, which would be a valid input on this article. I really only see a couple that don't belong above your post, and that happens in just about every article's comments.

I'm not going to argue your points about the gnex, but it's valid to consider whether this or the gnex is better from a developer perspective, both cost and other specifics that would be relevant to a developer (which camera may very easily be lower on that list than on the average consumer side of the same question). I don't expect most lay users, average consumers, to be buying this version. I expect developers and tinkerers to buy this version of the phone. Thus, it's reasonable to consider other phones that are built for developers and tinkerers (which the gnex takes the cake as being the most accepted from that perspective, as it is Google's marked developer/tinkerer phone).

If I didn't already upgrade to the Nexus I would get it for sure, its a great phone!!!!! Plus at this point I would have to buy it out right because I can't give up unlimited. Then that brings up the fact that I am probably going to switch to sprint when my contract is up to keep unlimited because I'm not going to pay the full price of a phone.

My answer is Yes, but maybe not right away. The way I see this, rather than returning it to Verizon, I can probably get more money from swappa or ebay. If that's the case, then there's really no rush to get it returned in the 14 day window. I'll play with the subsidized phone for a while, then trade up to the dev model. I believe I can still keep my unlimited data if I do that, right?

Does anyone see any problem with doing it this way?

This should not be acceptable.

We need to make this a public nightmare for samsung for allowing this.

Dear Samsung, Due to Motorola's policy of allowing carriers to lock bootloaders I have helped encouraged and actively moved dozens of former Motorola customers to Samsumg devices, and those that I helped move have gone ahead and helped others make the same move. Now that Samsumg has allowed Verizon to lock the bootloader on the Galaxy SIII, I am left no choice but to do the same all over again to another handset manufacturer. Releasing a developers edition of the Galaxy SIII is simply not good enough and an absolute insult to us. Motorola and HTC both had the Android community in their hands at one time till they started pulling stunts like you are with allowing the carriers to lock the bootloaders. If Samsung really wants to make this right, release an unlocking tool through, and show us, the ones that helped make Samsung the #1 Android Maker that you truly support us and want our continued support and business.

Samsung will tell you that if having a rootable phone is important to you to go to a carrier that allows rooted phones on their network. Verizon is no longer going to be that carrier.

Sounds like you're planning to stamp your feet and hold your breath until you turn blue. But that's not how the world works.

Don't blame Samsung for allowing Verizon to demand a locked bootloader. Blame Verizon for being the only network to lock the bootloader. And as far as expecting Samsung to release a tool to break a "feature" demanded by their customer (verizon is, after all their customer) that would be unwise and probably illegal.

Sure I resent the fact that the only way to get the phone for Verizon as it should have been released is by forgoing the subsidy. It just undermines my reasons for renewing my Verizon contract when the time comes.

Why pay the extra for an unlocked Bootloader when the Dev's will have it cracked in short order? I may get the next Nexus instead as long as it has at least 32gb of storage and a better camera. But only time will tell.

Hell no. Screw Samsung and screw Verizon. I probably would have if they had announced this BEFORE I bought my phone, but after? No. Hell no. I don't want to go through the trouble selling it and buying a new one. Release an unlock tool like HTC or offer a trade-in program or something. Or I'll just wait until a dev claims that massive bounty over on xda and unlocks our phones.

I totally agree with you! Had this been announced when I pre-ordered my phone back on June 6th, then I'd consider it an option. As it stands, this is a very poor "oops, we phucked up, let me fix it" attempt.

People, you are missing the big picture. Verizon is welcoming a phone sold by a 3rd party onto their network. This means a Nexus sold directly from google is possible..

If this works out well this could be a win win for everybody. I understand from Verizon's end that they are tired of supporting bricks from people who dont know what they are doing or people who know what they are doing and purposely brick to extort a new device out of VZW. On the other hand samsung needs to provide excellent warranty support for non ROM related issues. If they do, this is a working arrangement.

As far as paying full price it is simple.
1.) Buy an expensive device from VZW on contract.
2.) Sell said device on ebay.
3.) ???
4.) Profit!!

Yes! That is exactly what I typed just below you. (It took me forever to type it because I kept getting distracted with the possibilities, HA!). Good point about the Nexus & one that I hadn't thought of.

I, for one, was waiting to buy the Nexus One on Verizon & was disappointed when they chose not to & HTC branded it as the Droid Incredible instead (which I did buy & still love to this day). Everyone has been saying that they doubt that VZW will allow another Nexus on their network, but now...any manufacturer could sell any device on Verizon, unlocked or not! Hell, it could be rooted right out of the box for all Verizon cares. As long as the buyer is ok with it not being insured, why would they care?

"Verizon is welcoming a phone sold by a 3rd party onto their network."

They have to. It was a condition of the Spectrum C auction. Verizon cannot refuse to allow third party phones or third party apps on their network.

Yep I did hear about that. I thought it only applied to the LTE network though, so I thought we wouldnt actually see devices take advantage of this until VoLTE/LTE-only phones arrived. We already see LTE tablets out. It seems like this is the first phone to take advantage of the open network and it still supports 3G.

Does anyone else wonder how this will play out for future phone releases? What I mean is that if this is successful for Samsung, & other manufacturers notice, will it lead to them also offering their phones with unlocked bootloaders to work on Verizon's network.

And even better is, what if it leads to manufacturers offering unlocked phones to work on any carrier regardless of if that carrier passed on the model? Want a RAZR Maxx on AT&T? Here you go. Want a HTC One X on Verizon? There you go. If the carrier doesn't have to insure it & the buyer doesn't care, they should be ok with it, right?

Everyone has been saying that they don't want carrier/device exclusivity, this may be a first step for getting the U.S. there & like the rest of the world.

Perhaps this is a sign of things to come? With this and the advent of LTE I'm hoping for a more European model of universal/interchangeable cellular service.

I am not sure if I am happy or terrified....maybe both.

I seriously need to upgrade from my OGDroid to anything else but I don't want a Motorola droid-anything anymore. I really wanted to get the GSiii but criteria was keeping my old plan and I need it rooted. Desperate as I am held off pre-ordering one @ Full price from VZW. The locked bootloader was a dealbreaker for me. I've read all the shenanigans regarding the bootloader deal of VZW vs Samsung. I mean really, who the hell could bork their phone and send it back to VZW. I know that its all about $$ and control with VZW. I am super happy to see that a non-locked version of this phone will be coming out. I seriously pray the folks who know better (who are reading this site) will flock over and buy this phone. I also hope that in some time that the original S3 bootloader is unlocked due to this. Looks like I'll be the minority in this poll of folks who will be buying the phone.
As usual Shame on big red.

Since I'd have to pay full price for this phone anyway, I'd get this version just for the $50 I'd save over the one Verizon sells. $599 vs. $649

I honestly haven't decided if I'll stay with Verizon after march (when my contract is up) I may go to a mvno to save some money and escape verizon's prices. But if I decide that my LTE addiction is too strong and I want to ride out my unlimited LTE data longer I may pick this phone up, or be willing to pick up another developer edition of another phone.
So I voted yes, but it's contingent on my final decision if I'm going to stay with Verizon or leave.

However, if your a new customer to verizon, or up for an upgrade and have decided to go for a share everything plan, your a fool to pay for this model. With a unlocked developer edition of the exact same phone out, they will crack the bootloader in no time, just wait for the unlocked bootloader and buy the normal model with the subsidy.

It would be cheaper just to pay the termination fee and go to a carrier that offers it already unlocked.

And what is with all the manufacturers bowing to the carriers. All they have to do is threaten to stop selling phones to Verizon and Verizon will cave. They have the power not Verizon. Don't know why they don't see that.