Every year, with the release of a new Samsung flagship in Canada, we hear appeals for unlocked versions, free of carrier bloat and SIM restrictions. Every year, Samsung fails to deliver.
While Samsung refuses to comment on the record about its reticence to sell devices fully unlocked, either through its online store or branded retail outlets, we've heard through various sources that the company has no intention of disrupting its furtive and positive relationship with Canada's largest carriers, namely Rogers, Telus and Bell, which sell through the majority of the company's handsets.
This year, however, Samsung is allowing a small loophole through this carrier barrier (say that ten times) — as long as you're in Toronto, Burnaby, Richmond or Edmonton.
Every Galaxy S7 or S7 edge that is sold throughout Canada is unlocked until a SIM card is inserted, which then locks to that carrier's network. This way, Samsung can cut down on the number of models it distributes, since all carriers' assets are loaded onto every device, and install once a SIM is loaded.
But when a device that same device is purchased from one of Samsung's four so-called Experience Stores, located in Toronto's Sherway Gardens, Burnaby's Metrotown Mall, the Richmond Centre Mall, or the famous West Edmonton Mall, the company includes two unlock codes (in case one doesn't work) with each retail box, a gesture that should alleviate any ill will (and, for some, justify the cost of buying the $900 to $1,000 phone outright).
Samsung is also sweetening the deal by, in addition to bundling a Gear VR like other carriers, a 128GB microSD card, just to reinforce the return of that important feature.
Of course, there is one downside: even with the unlock code, the phone will still load carrier bloatware once the SIM is installed. Fortunately for us Canadians, neither Rogers, Bell, Telus, nor any of the smaller regional providers, force unwanted advertisements in the notification shade. The most egregious addition is, perhaps, the unwanted installation of Amazon's Android app, which happens to be quite useful. Moreover, all of them can be disabled should they prove unwanted.
According to a Samsung Experience Store employee I spoke to, pre-orders for the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are considerably higher than they were for the Galaxy S6, perhaps because many Canadians are ending contracts around now and looking to upgrade aging Galaxy S4s or S5s. This is all good news for those who pre-ordered the new phones from one of Samsung's official retail outlets. For everyone else, though, there are always other ways of getting their phones unlocked.
Are you in that boat, and does this deal for an unlocked Galaxy S7 interest you? Let us know in the comments below!
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Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.