Samsung's Nexus S smartphone is headed for its third major U.S. carrier on Sunday. But in an unusual move, the South Korean electronics giant is making the AT&T-capable phone available through mega-retailer Best Buy rather than AT&T's stores.
The Google-branded, slab-style phone, which runs the latest version of its Android smartphone OS, 2.3, Gingerbread, and premiered in December, is already available through Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile. Best Buy has sold an unlocked version.
Not at AT&T Stores
Dallas-based Samsung Telecommunications America said the phone was "optimized for AT&T's network" and it will allow AT&T customers "access to the latest and greatest Google applications and Android updates first."
Asked if AT&T will sell the phone, a spokesperson for Samsung, Jessica Redman, said the phone will only be available via Best Buy stores, Best Buy Mobile specialty stores, and on Best Buy's online store, which began taking pre-orders Thursday.
Best Buy's price is $99 with a two-year voice and data contract.
"I have to believe Samsung received a very good deal from Best Buy to get an exclusive deal to sell the device," said Kirk Parsons, a wireless analyst for J.D. Power and Associates.
"It's not unheard of, but a rare occurrence that the OEM brand would go to a non-service carrier outlet to sell a specific device. Eventually AT&T will probably get a chance to sell the device in their retail outlets as well."
A spokesperson for AT&T did not respond to our request for comment in time for publication.
The Nexus S has a four-inch Super AMOLED screen with pinch-to-zoom capability and 480x800 resolution; a gyroscope sensor; a 1500mAh lithium-ion battery promising 6.5 hours of talk time; A one-gigahertz Hummingbird processor with multitasking; five-megapixel rear-facing and VGA front-facing cameras; 720x480 video capture; 16GB of storage; and a hot-spot mode for tethering Wi-Fi devices. It is also capable of making payments through the emerging technology of Near Field Communication.
The T-Mobile and AT&T versions run on 3G networks, but the Sprint edition accesses its WiMAX 4G service.
The Nexus S is similar to Samsung's Galaxy series of phones available at all four major carriers. (A Galaxy refresh is due soon). A Verizon Wireless Nexus G would duplicate that feat for the Nexus S, but neither Verizon nor Samsung would comment on whether the device will be available on what is now the nation's largest mobile network.
Google's first Nexus phone, the Nexus One, made by Taiwan-based HTC, was an experiment that began in January 2010, to see if the search giant could sell the device without a carrier through its online store, originally with service by T-Mobile and later AT&T. But the company ceased online sales of the device in July after only a few months.
Posted: 2011-07-23 @ 1:04pm PT
Hey "Sci-Tech" the T-Mobile Nexus S was released exclusive at Best Buy, unavailable through T-Mobile, and remains that way today. So it really isnt that rare at all for an OEM to do it. Samsung is doing it for the 2nd time in 6 months with Best Buy(who gets exclusive phones and colors all the time that are not available through the carrier).