1. quietlybrilliant's Avatar
    I have a probably stupid, definitely very basic, question: Why would I purchase a phone like the S4 at full price so I can take it to any carrier for any duration I want?

    If I get the S4 from AT&T for $199 and cancel the next month, I pay a $325 ETF, meaning I paid $524 and can do whatever I want with the device.

    If I purchase the Google edition I pay $649, meaning $125 more. Do I pay more money because it is a Google Edition version?

    What other advantages are there to getting an unlocked S4?
    06-27-2013 02:34 AM
  2. whtchdr's Avatar
    It won't be as cheap as you think to leave AT&T. Your first months service will be around $100 not including the activation fee. So, $199 + tax for the phone, $325 ETF, and $135 for service charges = $660 or more. So, it is just as expensive as the Unlocked version. But you have to get service from somewhere so that should affect your decision. If you are going the prepaid route, the unlocked version is the way to go.
    06-27-2013 06:58 AM
  3. quietlybrilliant's Avatar
    It won't be as cheap as you think to leave AT&T. Your first months service will be around $100 not including the activation fee. So, $199 + tax for the phone, $325 ETF, and $135 for service charges = $660 or more. So, it is just as expensive as the Unlocked version. But you have to get service from somewhere so that should affect your decision. If you are going the prepaid route, the unlocked version is the way to go.
    But I will have gotten service during that first month, so your comparison isn't fair.

    Why are you saying that unlocked is the way to go with pre-paid? Can you say a bit more about this?
    06-27-2013 12:24 PM
  4. whtchdr's Avatar
    If you are going to be using a prepaid MVNO like Straight Talk or some other service that lets you bring your own device, I would go with the unlocked model. You will still be able to use it in the future with a contract carrier or any other that you choose. My argument is that it is no cheaper in reality to buy the discounted model from the carrier once you factor in the fees. Of course, any decision will be impacted by who you choose as your service provider. Also, you can now buy the Google Experience Galaxy S4 or HTC One if you prefer the Nexus like experience. If you are going to pay full price and are using a GSM carrier like ATT or T-Mobile, then I would go that route since updates will be timely and non- dependent on carrier testing.
    06-27-2013 12:30 PM
  5. garublador's Avatar
    The first advantage is that the phone is guaranteed to be unlocked. You'd have to convince your carrier to unlock your phone if you buy it under contract (which they may or may not do, it's currently illegal to unlock it without their permission but that law is pretty fiercely debated).

    The second is that we have been promised quick OS updates with the Google Edition phones. It generally takes months to never for OEM's and carriers to roll out Android updates to their phones and these phones shouldn't have that issue. Some crazy number like around a third the Android phones out there are still on Gingerbread. The Google edition phones are supposed to get Android OS updates right away, though who knows how long they'll be supported for.

    The third is that sometimes you can keep an unlimited data plan if you buy the phone outright rather than having it subsidized with a new contract from the carrier. I know that currently works with Verizon (though the Google editions won't work on their network) but I'm not sure if this applies to AT&T or TMobile.
    06-27-2013 12:38 PM
  6. quietlybrilliant's Avatar
    There's another advantage I can see to buying a subsidized phone instead of an unlocked one.

    The monthly data plan costs the same! That means if I buy a $199 AT&T or $99 T-Mobile S4 I save $449 or $549 respectively compared to getting the unlocked edition. Now if for some reason I want to switch carrier I can pay the ETF and still save compared to the unlocked version.
    06-29-2013 06:39 PM
  7. veii's Avatar
    Another advantage is that a Carrier hasn't gotten their grubby little mitts on it and screwed around with it/installed their bloatware on it. Here in the UK you get something called Sim Only contracts where you can get unlimited everything from 15 a month so there is a clear cut difference. If there is something similar in the US then its worth it as the total cost of ownership, even over 24 months, is considerably lower. If there isn't something similar then you might as well pay for your phone over 2 years.

    Sent from my GT-I9505 using AC Forums mobile app
    06-30-2013 10:00 AM
  8. quietlybrilliant's Avatar
    As far as I know there isn't anything similar in the US, so you really only win when purchasing a carrier subsidized version.

    You can chose between being happy with the skin on the phone and saving $500, or paying an ETF and unlocking it and rooting to go anywhere you want, any style you want, still for considerably less money than getting the Google edition version.

    Another advantage is that a Carrier hasn't gotten their grubby little mitts on it and screwed around with it/installed their bloatware on it. Here in the UK you get something called Sim Only contracts where you can get unlimited everything from 15 a month so there is a clear cut difference. If there is something similar in the US then its worth it as the total cost of ownership, even over 24 months, is considerably lower. If there isn't something similar then you might as well pay for your phone over 2 years.

    Sent from my GT-I9505 using AC Forums mobile app
    07-01-2013 01:30 PM

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