Korea’s biggest mobile carrier SK Telecom has jumped the gun and made Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, available for sale right now — nearly two weeks earlier than the scheduled global rollout date of April 11, as first spotted by the Korea Herald.
“We’ve started selling Galaxy S5 today in Korea to allow our customers choose from a wider range of devices,” an SK Telecom spokesperson tells TNW.
UPDATE: Korea’s two other carriers – LG Uplus and KT Corp – have also announced the start of sales of the Galaxy S5, essentially meaning that the schedule has been brought forward throughout the whole country, even without Samsung giving the green light.
A Samsung spokesperson tells TNW that the carriers didn’t seek permission for the Galaxy S5′s early launch:
The official global launch date of the Galaxy S5 is April 11, as previously announced.
Samsung has provided mobile carriers with a limited number of units for marketing and pre-sales activities, however the decision to release the device early in the Korean market was made by the mobile carrier itself, independently of Samsung.
We express our regret at this decision and we are working to verify all the facts.
The Korea Herald reports that SK — which has 27 million subscribers — is selling the Galaxy S5 for KRW866,800 won ($806).
SK Telecom’s move is almost certainly because the Korean government has imposed 45-day business suspensions on the country’s mobile carriers on a rotational basis for giving illegal subsidies to new users who switch their service providers. This means that SK Telecom, which is suspended from April 5 to May 19, is unable to sign on new subscribers and upgrade existing customers during the time period when the Galaxy S5 officially launches.
The Galaxy S5, announced late last month, sports a 5.1-inch full HD (1080p) Super AMOLED display, a tad larger than the Galaxy S4. It comes packed with a new heart rate sensor fitted under the rear-facing camera, which has also been upgraded from a 13-megapixel to 16-megapixel sensor. The S5 runs on a quad-core 2.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, a 2800mAh battery and either 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage.
Headline image via Samsung