Now here's an interesting twist to the story of the Samsung Galaxy S III (S3) on Verizon. Samsung has just announced that it'll sell a version of its flagship Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone for Verizon that features an unlockable bootloader.
This means that the Galaxy S III Developer Edition, as its called, will open the door for developers and enthusiasts to tinker around on their phones, as in to install custom ROMs. Verizon's version of the Galaxy S3 is the only one whose bootloader isn't unlockable by default; phone owners can unlock the GS3 on Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, for instance, if they choose.
The liberty to customize the phone comes at a price: $600 when it's ready for purchasing, and only when purchased directly from Samsung's site. This is the same price as a 16GB off-contract GS3 from Verizon's own site.
The announcement comes at a curious time, two days before Verizon's (delayed) GS3 sale date, but well after the first wave of enthusiasts were able to place their preorders online.
Samsung shared a nice Q&A over e-mail that sums up additional details; here it is, reproduced, below.
Who is this for?
Samsung and Verizon Wireless recognize that there are many enthusiasts and professional developers that are interested in customizing their device with third-party ROM software. Unlocking the bootloader can put the stability of the phone in jeopardy; therefore, only experienced developers should attempt to unlock the bootloader.
What about the other carriers?
Other versions of the Galaxy S III are sold with a user-unlockable bootloader as a standard feature. Those models are available directly from the respective carriers.
Where can I buy the Galaxy S III Developer Edition?
The Developer Edition will be sold online directly from Samsung. When the device is available for purchase, it will be sold through the Samsung developer portal at developer.samsung.com for $599.
Why is Verizon Wireless' version locked?
Depending on the device, an open bootloader could prevent Verizon Wireless from providing the same level of customer experience and support because it would allow users to change the phone or otherwise modify the software and, potentially, negatively impact how the phone connects with the network. The addition of unapproved software could also negatively impact the wireless experience for other customers. Unlocking the device also voids the warranty.
Has Samsung always unlocked the bootloader on its phones?
While not all previous Samsung Android devices have had an easily unlockable bootloader, all of our other current Galaxy S III flagship lineup, and all Nexus-branded devices, support the standard bootloader unlocking procedure.
What happens if I load custom software and damage ('brick') my phone?
Problems caused by unlocking the bootloader and installing custom software will not be covered by the warranty. Problems with third-party and customized bootloader software can cause irreparable harm to the Galaxy S III. Users interested in performing these actions should proceed with caution and at their own risk. Out of warranty Galaxy S III Developer Edition devices will be serviced directly through Samsung, and service charges will apply.