File under “reasons to buy your phones unlocked”: As noted by Fortune‘s Aaron Pressman, wireless carriers are marking up the price of Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones by as much as 11%. Here’s a price comparison:
- Samsung (unlocked): S9 for $720, S9+ for $840
- AT&T: S9 for $790, S9+ for $915
- Sprint: S9 for $792, S9+ for $912
- Verizon: S9 for $800, S9+ for $930
The only exception among major carriers is T-Mobile, which will sell the Galaxy S9 and S9+ for the same price as Samsung. T-Mobile is even offering a slightly higher trade-in credit of up to $360, versus $350 maximum through Verizon and Samsung.
It’s unclear why carriers are charging more than Samsung for the Galaxy S9, but perhaps they simply feel they can get away with it. Although unlocked Android phones receive faster software upgrades, don’t come with any carrier-installed bloatware, and are often cheaper, most people still buy their phones directly through carriers instead. (A December 2016 survey by the NPD Group pegged unlocked phone sales at around 12%.) Maybe the higher prices will trigger a change–especially with Samsung offering monthly payment and upgrade plans similar to what the carriers provide–but old buying habits die hard.