U.S. Cellular is taking a page out of T-Mobile's creative marketing playbook. The wireless carrier is offering a $50 Google Play promotional code when you pre-order the new Galaxy S5.
U.S. Cellular is partnering with Samsung on the marketing program for the much-anticipated smartphone, which will run $199.99 after an instant rebate. For consumers that are heavy apps users -- or for those switching from Apple to the Android platform -- the $50 Google Play credit may turn heads.
The only catch is you have to pre-order the device online -- and that's not much of a catch. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available for purchase on April 11, alongside the Samsung Gear 2 smart watch, the Samsung Gear 2 Neo and the Samsung Gear Fit.
Carrier Competition Fierce
We caught up with Weston Henderek, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, to get his take on the $50 Google Play credit. He told us he believes U.S. Cellular realized that every other major carrier was also probably going to sell the GS5 at $199 on a two-year contract.
"U.S. Cellular has really been struggling over the past year as competition continues to increase," Henderek said. "I think they felt that they needed to go beyond the offer that other carriers had on the GS5 in order to generate more interest."
As Henderek sees it, promotions like Google Play gift cards are always easier for a carrier to give than actually reducing the price by $50 or giving a $50 credit. That is because a Google Play gift card won't get booked as an increased subsidy.
"So this is a good way for U.S. Cellular to give an extra incentive for the GS5 on their network, without actually having to reduce the price," he said.
Get to Know the New Galaxies
As for the Galaxy S5, the new version of Samsung's flagship smartphone comes equipped with a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screen, a 2.5-GHz quad-core application processor and runs on Android 4.4.2, also known as KitKat. There's a 16-megapixel camera at the rear and a 2-megapixel camera on the front, along with high-definition-capable video.
The Galaxy S5 camera also boasts an auto-focus speed of 0.3 seconds. The High Dynamic Range (HDR) promises to reproduce natural light and color with intensity under any lighting circumstances. Meanwhile, a new Selective Focus feature lets users focus on a specific area of a photo while simultaneously blurring out the background. With this capability, consumers no longer need a special lens kit to create a shallow depth of field effect.
Moving on, the Galaxy Gear 2 smart watch now comes in three versions: Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit. The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo feature a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display with new shortcuts and better app support. For its part, the Gear Fit offers a more athletic design with a 1.84-inch curved Super AMOLED display and interchangeable band. As its name suggests, the Gear Fit can monitor your heart rate and track your steps, as well as serve up notifications of incoming e-mails, texts and calls.