Sprint, U.S. Cellular offer deals to goose Samsung Galaxy S4 sales

As expected, Samsung Electronics is bringing its flagship Galaxy S4 to a bevy of U.S. carriers--and the operators are tripping over themselves to offer deals tied to the phone in an attempt to boost sales.

Sprint Galaxy S4

Sprint will start selling the 16 GB version of the GS4 April 27 for $250 with a two-year contract

The Galaxy S4 will be available from Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM), Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and C Spire Wireless starting this month. Further, the Galaxy S4 will be sold at Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile, Costco, Radio Shack, Sam's Club, Staples, Target and Walmart.

And, not surprisingly, each carrier is offering the Galaxy S4 in a slightly different pricing format with the hope of getting S4 users onto their network--the gadget is expected to be a blockbuster.

Sprint, for instance, will start selling the 16 GB version of the GS4 April 27 for $250 with a two-year contract. However, it said that for a limited time only new customers who switch to Sprint from another carrier will receive an additional $100 instant credit, reducing the price of the phone to $150. Sprint said pre-orders will begin April 18.

U.S. Cellular, meanwhile, is offering the GS4 for $200 with an instant rebate. In addition, the carrier is exclusively offering a $60 "S View" flip cover for free to anyone who pre-orders the device online. The flip cover is has a clear window to read a text message, answer or reject a call, and view the battery status. U.S. Cellular customers can begin pre-ordering the phone now with sales starting later this month.

T-Mobile said that under its new, no-contract Simple Choice plans customers will pay a down payment of $150 with 24 equal monthly payments of $20 for qualified buyers, bringing the total cost to $630. Customers can also pay the full cost of the phone upfront. Once customers pay off the phone's cost under T-Mobile plans, their monthly bill goes down. T-Mobile said the Galaxy S4 will be available online starting April 24, and at select T-Mobile retail stores and through select dealers and national retail stores starting May 1.

C Spire said customers and others can pre-register online at www.cspire.com/gs4 to receive updates and more information on the Galaxy S4's availability and introduction. The company did not provide pricing or availability for the Galaxy S4 but noted will come with a suite of built- in C Spire applications and software, including a new C Spire app coming this summer with easy access to the company's unique suite of personalized services; Text CS, which helps customers get easy, quick and convenient answers to questions about their mobile phone and account; a Wi-Fi hotspot finder app and Amazon Mobile and Amazon MP3 with cloud player.

AT&T said it its taking pre-orders for the Galaxy S4 now and devices will be shipped on April 30. AT&T is offer the 16 GB GS4 for $200 with a two-year contract.

Representatives from Verizon and Cricket said they are announcing pricing or availability yet.

The S4 runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and sports a 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display with 441 pixels per inch resolution. The device runs a quad-core 1.9 GHz (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 600 processor in the U.S., and an octa-core 1.6 GHz Samsung Exynos processor in other markets, and includes a 13-megapixel camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 2 GB of RAM, and will come in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB variants, with a removable 2,600 mAh battery.

S4 will offer what Samsung calls a "Smart Pause," which the company said will allow users to control the screen by where they look. Specifically, the technology will pause a video when the user looks away. Also, Samsung said its S4 "Air View" technology will allow a user to hover with their fingers over the screen to preview the content of an email, image gallery or video without having to open it. The phone also offers an "S Translate" translating service that supports English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Latin American Spanish, and supports speech to text and text to speech.

The Galaxy S4 will also be going head-to-head with the HTC One, which AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are offering earlier than the Galaxy S4. AT&T is selling the 32 GB One starting April 19 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, and is the only U.S. wireless carrier at launch to also offer a version with 64 GB of memory for $299.99 with a two-year contract. Sprint is also launching the 32 GB One April 19 for $199.99 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile confirmed via Twitter it will launch the HTC One April 24, the same day as the Galaxy S4. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has said the One will be available for a $99.99 down payment, though he did not detail the monthly payments.

HTC is trying to be more aggressive in its marketing for the well-reviewed One to counter the marketing Samsung is likely going to drop for the Galaxy S4.

For more:
- see this Samsung release
- see this CNET article

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Article updated April 17 with comments from Verizon and C Spire.