The lucky few who pre-ordered the Galaxy S8 or S8+ through a carrier will have had the latest and greatest from Samsung for 2 and a half weeks by now. The day has finally come for those looking to pick up an unlocked version, as pre-orders officially open today at several US retailers. The carrier-free versions ship on May 31st, but you'll need to get your order in fast if you want to receive it on that date. That's the same day you'll be able to buy an unlocked version in-store, though numbers will obviously be limited.
The official word is that pre-orders are exclusive to Best Buy and Samsung. And that's true for US models but we've also found international versions of both phones available on B&H and Amazon, too. As for the pricing, you're looking at base model starting points of $724.99 for the S8 (5.8" screen and 64GB storage) and $824.99 for the S8+ (6.2", 64GB).
It seems that Samsung and Best Buy are only offering the Midnight Black models, and only the lowest storage option of 64GB, for now. Pre-order from either site and you'll also get deal-sweeteners like an Entertainment Kit and 6 months of Netflix thrown in for free.
The international versions available at B&H and Amazon come with slightly higher price points than their US counterparts. However, this is currently the only way to get an unlocked model in any of the more exotic color options (Orchid Gray, Maple Gold, Arctic Silver, and the rather stunning Coral Blue). Beware though, if you do plump for an international variant it will work with some US carriers but not others, so make sure you check the bands relevant to your network before you make a purchase. As far as I'm aware they should play nice with AT&T and T-Mobile, at least.
It's worth mentioning that unlocked versions of other recent Galaxy S devices have been very slow to get Android 7.0 Nougat updates compared with carrier models, so if quick OS updates are important to you it might be better to get in bed with a carrier. Another consideration is that carrier-specific technologies, such as 4x4 MIMO or wifi-calling, may only work on the model sold by the carrier, so check that before you buy, too.
Let us know if you see any other retailers getting in on the act, or any other tempting deals.