As most Android users know, the US carriers are often at least partially responsible for a lot of the problems people have with Android devices. Their bloatware slows down even brand new phones, and often US carrier branded smartphones get updates much later than their international counterparts. With the Galaxy SIII, however, it looked like that might change for US consumers. All four carrier versions were practically identical (unlike with other generations), the devices have an Android version which can disable bloatware, and the devices for three of the major carriers would have user-unlockable bootloaders. However, for some reason Verizon decided to break up the party, and that the bootloader on its Galaxy SIII would be locked and encryped unlike the others, a decision that was disappointing to many consumers and developers.
Surprisingly enough, there is actually a solution for this problem, and it comes directly from Samsung of all places. In response to the backlash over the Verizon SIII’s locked bootloader, Samsung decided to offer a developer edition of the device, which will work exactly like the Verizon version but with the addition of a user-unlockable bootloader. It will be available online only from the Samsung Developer Portal, and will set you back a full $599 unlocked. For the Android developers and power users out there, this will be a small price to pay for the freedom of a Galaxy SIII with an unlocked bootloader on Verizon.
In addition to announcing the availability of the device, Samsung also posted a quick FAQ about the new product. You can read the full version by following the source link, but the short version is this: The unlockable SIII is being produced by Samsung for Android enthusiasts and developers, and although Samsung is happy to give users an unlocked bootloader, it isn’t their problem if something breaks. There was also a bit thrown in about why Verizon decided to lock their bootloader, but it was the traditional marketing speak meant to keep Verizon from looking too bad.
I’m quite happy that Samsung decided to make this move for the benefit of consumers and developers, and also that they have found a way to work around Verizon’s lock down of the device. Hopefully this will begin a trend where manufacturers will release an unlockable device even if the carrier doesn’t necessarily want to sell one in store, just to give users the choice. Even if it doesn’t, I think it is great that Samsung took the time to do this, and there are sure to be many Android enthusiasts and developers who feel that way too.