Samsung generally catches a lot of flack for shadowing a lot of the things Apple does. In the past, Samsung has taken many design cues from the Cupertino-based firm, mimicked many of the iOS interface elements in its customized Android interface, TouchWiz, and even copied Apple's voice controlled assistant. Like it or not, Samsung doesn't show very much discretion when mimicking Apple.

That said, there is at least one way Samsung has taken a page from Apple's playbook that doesn't raise too much cause for alarm: its wireless retail strategy.

The first three iPhones were exclusive to AT&T in the States. If you wanted an iPhone, you had only two options. Buy one through AT&T, or buy one unlocked and pop a T-Mobile SIM card in it for 2G torture. But the Apple iPhone 4 was spread out to at least two more carriers, officially. Although much later than the original iPhone 4 on AT&T, the fourth-generation iPhone eventually made its way to Verizon and Sprint shelves. The iPhone 4S made yet another leap. It launched on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon at the same time. And it eventually made its way down to prepaid carriers. And this time around, Apple broadened its iPhone reach once again. The iPhone 5 initially launched on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint again, but quickly seeded to prepaid and regional carriers.

The magic in this is that carriers have little to no intervention. Each iPhone model is virtually identical, unlike their Android counterparts which often face heavy customizations at the hand of the carrier (locked bootloaders, bloatware and rigorous software update approval processes).

Samsung didn't entirely steal this page from Apple's book. It's been launching its series of phones across as many carriers worldwide as possible since the original Galaxy S launch. But not until this year did it strive to launch the same, untouched phone across multiple carriers. The original Galaxy S hit AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon as the Captivate, Epic 4G, Vibrant and Fascinate, respectively. Each device was built to each carrier's specifics, and each model looked completely different. The Galaxy S II line was similar in that specifications, size and designs varied. However, Samsung refined its strategy with the Galaxy S III, launching virtually the same device across national and regional carriers. The T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T Galaxy S III models look the same (with the exception of color), feature the same specs and have no silly nicknames. (The only difference internally between the U.S. models are the wireless radios and frequency support.)

And it appears Samsung is applying this same strategy to its other popular brand, Galaxy Note. The Galaxy Note II is just over the horizon and is headed to AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular. Specs will remain mostly the same, and each carrier will get virtually the same phone.

This is great from a consumer standpoint. If you are in search of a new iPhone or Samsung phone, carrier is no longer a factor. While our market still differs from the rest of the world, Samsung and Apple are working towards the same mentality: choose your phone, then choose your carrier. Unfortunately, it isn't always that simple. Some manufacturers aren't so quick to make demands with carriers or to give up their old ways.

HTC, for instance, has always had trouble releasing the same – or even very similar – devices across multiple carriers. Its new One series only made it to AT&T and T-Mobile. The One X, One VX and One X+ are AT&T phones, while T-Mobile got only the mid-class One S. Verizon got the DROID Incredible 4G LTE and Sprint received the HTC EVO 4G LTE, both of which were like One devices, but were definitely quite different. If you like the One X and you're on anything but AT&T, you're simply out of luck.

Motorola has clung to its old methods, too, launching DROID exclusives on Verizon for the past three years in pride. I can't discredit the company, though, as the partnership has worked out decently well for Moto. And Nokia has all but botched its re-entry into the U.S. market by limiting is market with exclusive deals with AT&T.

But it makes one wonder how much better Motorola, HTC or even Nokia would be doing financially and in terms of market share if they adopted a more open philosophy and cared to play hardball with carriers. Carrier exclusivities are an old tactic, one that can still work with the right ingredients. But, generally, most people will deal with what their carrier offers … or wait if their provider doesn't carry the specific device they want.

That point raises a question. How willing are you (or your family) to switch carriers to get the phones you want?

I can't imagine there are many who are ready to jump ship at the sight of a new phone, no matter how great the device may be. When I worked in wireless retail, I would see families coming in to eat an ETF, pay the activation fees and subsidized price for three new phones. Some switched to the EVO 4G, iPhone 4 on AT&T and I even had entire families switch to the original DROID. But the number of people switching carriers was always relatively small in comparison.

I've even switched myself a couple times. I opened a Sprint account to get the HTC Hero, which I later swapped for the Palm Pre. And, against my better judgement, I switched to AT&T to snatch a Lumia 900, which I only kept until the One X launched. Other than those exceptions, I haven't done a lot of carrier hopping. And those "switches" weren't necessarily for a new device. More or less, I was looking to subscribe anyway, and it just so happened a device I wanted at the time was coming out, which pushed me over the edge.

Would I switch now? Not a chance. If the Note II were only coming to, say, T-Mobile or Sprint, I would simply wait for an alternative. Or if the Nexus is incompatible with the carriers I use, I will simply pass. Maybe I'm jaded and don't care to own the latest and greatest as much as I used to. But I've definitely learned that making all sorts of changes and constantly swapping devices around to get a new one isn't always worth the trouble. Neither is eating an ETF, or switching service to learn you don't have coverage in a vital area.

So tell me, readers. Have you ever considered switching carriers to get the phone you want? Did you go through with it? Or, like most, do you just deal with the devices that are offered by your current carrier? Should more manufacturers adopt the strategy Samsung and Apple are proving can be wildly successful?

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Products mentioned in this Article

eBay prices for the Samsung Galaxy S III

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80 Reactions to this post

"Have you ever switched carriers to get the phone you want?"

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T Louis Michael
T Louis Michael I can only use my Samsung Sunburst with ATT.
Kyrie Johnson
Kyrie Johnson I went from sprint to T-Mobile not because Of a phone but because of the crapy customer service they gave me.
Gibby Garcia
Gibby Garcia No I always buy my phones unlocked.
Pedro Oliveira
Pedro Oliveira no....best thing is to buy unlocked phones, and change carrier when you are unhappy!
Jose Villa
Jose Villa Who doesn't ? :)
Dylan Greene
Dylan Greene .....maybe
Cristian Henriquez
Cristian Henriquez yeah, switching carriers next week when gnote 2 is released on Verizon
Arxi Kay
Arxi Kay The lumia 920 is driving me insane atm
Lamar Sarracino
Lamar Sarracino Nope, I'm not that desperate!!!
Nick LaSorsa
Nick LaSorsa yes, Sprint (Evo 4G) to AT&T (Lumia 900)...happy.
Kushal Patel
Kushal Patel No phone is good enough for me to switch from Tmo.
Perro Rosello
Perro Rosello I tried to switch from tmobile to sprint for the evo 3d when it released, but the service sucked so bad i cancelled within the return period. Then to at&t for the htc titan and stayed. all around better service, phone selection, and there is lte in my area also
Ken Hoey
Ken Hoey No need to switch from AT&T, they've got every phone I'm ever gonna want!!
Kimmy Bobbett
Kimmy Bobbett I switched to At&t from Verizon to get the note.
Nisha Collins
Nisha Collins Umm… I'm sad to say yes lol… I love phones
Chika Emil Okechukwu
Chika Emil Okechukwu At&t has the greatest phones so no
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz i switchet from att to tmobile to avoid the iphone
Michael Morales
Michael Morales Left Tmobile after 7 years for AT&T so I could get the iPhone 4S.
Alfie Pugh
Chris Northcutt
Chris Northcutt Yes, just did actually. But really anymore the main carriers have pretty similar phones by all the manufacturers. Especially since IPhone, Galaxy S3 and the upcoming Galaxy Note are the same phone with the same features and are on all the networks.
Amie Lee Greenway
Amie Lee Greenway Um isn't that the equivalent of paying full price for a phone when you could've gotten the discounted upgrade? I think it's a little bit stupid to pay to get out of a contract which is like at least $300 just to go with someone else.
Steven Quacoo- Dorby
Steven Quacoo- Dorby Yeah for the iPhone I left tmobile or trash mobile for sprint
Larry L Roe
Larry L Roe Yes to sprint
Adam Scherzer
Adam Scherzer I left TMo after 8 years to get the GS3. TMo said their GS3 won't work on their forecoming LTE. So I went to Verizon which rootmetrics showed was getting 11-17Mbps in Louisville.
Luis Arturo Batista Aquino
Luis Arturo Batista Aquino yes!
Royce Dessaure
Royce Dessaure Nope!
Danny Spaide
Danny Spaide Yes and I would again
Jesse Ling
Jesse Ling im VERY particular about how i choose my devices so yes
Brayson Jenner
Brayson Jenner I switched to get the iPhone 5
Jesse Miguel
Jesse Miguel You get what u pay for, bigred
Matias Brandolini
Matias Brandolini Yes
Cyrus Taylor
Cyrus Taylor I switched from SouthernLinc to AT&T so I could get an iPhone, at the time AT&T was the only company that had it, the downside is that SouthernLinc is the only company that gets full signal where I live at the moment but as you may know they don't have any type of fast data network
Derek Lombardi
Derek Lombardi T-Mobile to Verizon for the Galaxy Nexus and LTE last year
Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson I switched from big red to at&t 3 years ago because their phone service and selection sucked ass and at the time I wanted an iphone, I'll be sticking around for the Note 2 as well.
Austin Wirl
Austin Wirl Dad did earlier....no way iPhone on Verizon 4g is all you need
Bradley E Watson
Bradley E Watson Yes i switched to Verizon Wireless years ago because of no service anywhere with At&t.. Have tried going back 2 At&t several months ago and oops still no service in my area smh :(:(
Kenneth Li
Kenneth Li i'm with gsm, no need to switch carriers! just buy an unlocked phone!
Michael Ducylowycz
Michael Ducylowycz Verizon to Cellcom for ip5
Randy B Hoopes
Randy B Hoopes Yes I left the much better T-Mobile USA to switch to the overpriced, overrated Verizon Wireless!
Josh Powell
Josh Powell No, but I'll be switching from sprint to Verizon next year in March to get the DROID Razr MAXX HD!
David Piepho
David Piepho Absolutely !
Kerwin Sulcer
Kerwin Sulcer i switched from Sprint to Verizon to get the LG Dare.
Paul Alexandru
Paul Alexandru I did it once, when i was literally FED UP with my laggy N8 1 year ago and got the 4S
Elijah Mitchell
Elijah Mitchell I disapprove of phonedog now because of the disappointing rant about the beautiful HTC j butterfly. The post was overly opinionated and I'll informed shining negative light on a beautiful phone that may not be trying for the "phablet" position... Remember the dell streaks size?
Edgar Rodriguez
Edgar Rodriguez Haven't seen a phone worth the trouble
Rodger Samiie Myers
Rodger Samiie Myers Switched from tmobile to verizon due to service and the iphone...great company..now staying on verizon for the note 2
Justin Huffman
Justin Huffman Switched from Verizon to Sprint for the EVO 4G and the fast data network...now Sprint doesn't even have LTE in my area.
Grant Rudolph
Grant Rudolph Yes.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis
Abram Wenevermet Dennis No.. I switched because sprint had horrible data speeds
Anne Brooks
Anne Brooks I have done yes
Daniel Quintero
Daniel Quintero No
Byktor Urvaes
Byktor Urvaes Nope.. I would consider switching carriers for a better price or better service..
David DiPilla
David DiPilla I switched to Verizon 2 years ago from at@t Verizon services is so much better the best I have ever seen and I have had sprint and t-mobile and t-mobile was terrible
Luis Robles Figueroa
Luis Robles Figueroa Yeah... If I can I will depending on the cost of the plan. It is not just switching cause I like the phone. Other stuff plays a roll.
Marcus Edwards
Marcus Edwards No
Charlie Ebner
Charlie Ebner Nope. And nor would I. I like gsm phones, not CDMA. And I would stick with AT&T over t-mobile anyday.
Robert Futty
Robert Futty I want to go back to Verizon.. I'll admit they got awesome phones but last time I had them with the lg voyager I paid just as much as I do now with my wife on my plan on tmobile.
Cristian Tomasito
Cristian Tomasito I use to do that. Till i realized it was a waste of money
Juan Jose Rios
Juan Jose Rios Yes dropped T-Mo's sorry ass and shity service
Cathy Moore
Cathy Moore Twice..from T-Mobile to sprint (evo) & next to att for the galaxy note
Claire Miller
Claire Miller Verizon has no signal where I live!
Andre Roberts
Andre Roberts Left t-mobile for sprint for the POS Iphone Biggest mistake I ever made it never had problems with t-mobile but with sprint we kept dropping calls could barely use the Internet the actually told me to take there pos airave to my job wtf needless to say we are back with t-mobile with Galaxy 3's and couldn't be happier
Dale Junior
Dale Junior Nope. T_mobile loyal. I did that when the storm came out. Ended up back where I started. Verizon has terrible customer service and weak signal around me.
Jeremy Carter
Jeremy Carter LG optimus G coming out for AT&T sticking with AT&T
Brent Legendre
Brent Legendre If my contract is up sure
Rob McGrady
Rob McGrady Its not that easy to just switch
George H Nguyen
George H Nguyen yes, i was with verizon and switch over to at&t when the blackberry bold 9000 first came out, been with at&t since
Alberto Garcia Flores
Alberto Garcia Flores Yes, I switched to Verizon just to have the Galaxy S3 with LTE.
Raaja Selvanaathan
Raaja Selvanaathan We can switch to many Phones but our carrier must be same... because we know who is best... That's the reason we use unlocked Phones here in India.... :).. But it is sad that we don't get any IPhone or other phones cheap, under a contract here.. :(
Chris Hagood
Chris Hagood No. I switched to VZW for the service, and that's why I'm where I'm at. Also, the Rezound I bought is still a great device.
Anthony Evans Jr
Anthony Evans Jr I am glad the gnote 2 is coming to all of them
David Buenrostro
David Buenrostro Probably switching to Verizon next week for the gnote2
Gordon Christie
Gordon Christie No
Brian Edwards
Brian Edwards No. With GSM technology, I can ALWAYS find the phone I want.
Nathan Wright
Nathan Wright I did just switch from AT&T to Verizon. Too bad I get worse service at my house though :/ love the service everywhere else though.
Tony Salazar
Tony Salazar I am thinking about it. And is NOT AT&T. Would go to Verizon before I would do that.
Curt Popejoy
Curt Popejoy I am doing this very thing tomorrow. Switching to AT&T from tmobile, so my wife and oldest daughter can get new iphones.
Josiah Mayo
Josiah Mayo No!!! Verizon is the boss!!!!!
Allen Drewe
Allen Drewe Done so about 5 times, its very easy.
Rick Castorena
Rick Castorena Never!!! Verizon is the best!!!

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