AT&T, Verizon sidestep major promotions for Samsung’s Galaxy S8

Sprint was the only major wireless carrier to promote the Samsung's Galaxy S8 with significant discounts.

Samsung’s newest flagship Android smartphone, the Galaxy S8, isn’t receiving the same amount of love from the nation’s wireless carriers that the device’s predecessor did. According to new data from BayStreet Research, Sprint was the only major wireless carrier to promote the device with significant discounts.

“While we were expecting slightly more aggressive GS8 promotions y/y, T-Mobile preferred to remain on the sidelines, allowing AT&T & Verizon to offer relatively weaker GS8 launch promotions vs last year,” BayStreet wrote in a recent note to subscribers. “Last year, all carriers quickly matched T-Mobile's aggressive BOGO offer at launch. This year, only Sprint offered an aggressive BOGO lease offer at launch, as AT&T’s BOGO requires home TV service and Verizon’s GS8 discount promo has a variety of requirements.”

BayStreet said that, according to its checks, Sprint’s sales of the Galaxy S8 are up 30% over its sales of the Galaxy S7 last year. However, the firm said that both AT&T and Verizon are selling roughly the same number of Galaxy S8 devices when compared with their sales of the Galaxy S7 last year. Meanwhile, T-Mobile’s sales of the devices are roughly 15% less than what the carrier sold of last year’s model.

“Overall we have the GS8 [sales] flat y/y through April and expect increased promotional focus in Q2,” the firm added.

However, it's worth noting that T-Mobile just last week launched a buy-one, get-one-free offer for the Samsung Galaxy S8 that uses a prepaid card for customers who sign up for the T-Mobile One plan with with 24-month finance agreements. AT&T too now offers a BOGO on the device on its website.

Of course, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is launching into a much different environment in the United States than the company’s S7 did last year. First, as BayStreet noted, the S7 was one of the most heavily promoted Android device launches in recent history. Second, the S8 arrived in the U.S. market without Bixby, Samsung’s new voice-driven virtual assistant. Third, U.S. wireless carriers are generally working to cut costs amid relatively sluggish subscriber gains and increased competition as unlimited wireless data plans become industry table stakes.

But perhaps most importantly, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is in part tasked with cleaning up Samsung’s brand following the company’s disastrous launch of the Galaxy Note 7 last year. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission officially announced a recall of the Note 7 last year after Samsung received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the U.S., including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage including fires. Samsung produced a second wave of devices, but issued another recall after a replacement phone caught fire aboard a Southwest Airlines flight.

“We can confidently say the Galaxy S8 is safe for use,” DJ Koh, who oversees Samsung’s mobile business, told the Korean Herald earlier this year.

Article updated May 24 with information about T-Mobile's BOGO offer for the Galaxy S8. Article updated May 30 with information about AT&T's BOGO promotion.