Galaxy S6 may be cheaper if bought in U.S.

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Galaxy S6 may be cheaper if bought in U.S.

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A captured image from Amazon.com where the latest Galaxy S6 from Samsung Electronics can be purchased for as much as 200,000 won cheaper than at retail stores in Korea.

After local mobile carriers decided on smaller-than-expected subsidies for Samsung Electronics’ new flagship smartphones, Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, Koreans are looking for other ways to get the gadgets cheaply.

One method is to buy phones exported to the United States online, which can lower the price by as much as 200,000 won ($181.61).

In Korea, Samsung is retailing a Galaxy S6 with 32 gigabytes of storage for 858,000 won and an S6 Edge with the same storage for 979,000 won. But the same models are sold for $599.99 and $699.99 at Verizon Wireless in the United States.

At shopping sites such as Amazon.com, phones are mostly classified as items that can’t be shipped outside the United States. Korean buyers have to use a purchasing agent with a virtual shipping address there by paying extra fees. The goods are shipped to the address in the United States and the agents send them to Korea afterwards.

In Korea, subsidies on the new models range from 120,000 won to 210,000 won. A 210,000 won subsidy only goes to people who subscribe to the most expensive monthly plans costing more than 100,000 won.

Last October, the government announced new discounts beyond subsidies on phone purchases. The discounts are good for people who already own a phone - like a phone purchased from the United States.

For instance, S6 owners who subscribe to a 69,000 won monthly plan from No. 1 carrier SK Telecom for two years currently are eligible for a discount of up to 12 percent, which is equivalent to 163,680 won over the two years. Subscribers to KT’s 51,000 won monthly plan may save 162,360 won for two years.

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning recently revised policies to review the discounts. The 12 percent discount ceiling is set to rise to 20 percent effective on April 24.

The measure is meant to crack down on mobile carriers offering overly generous subsidies on smartphone purchases to attract more subscribers. Still, only 154,000 people have chosen so far to benefit from monthly discounts of 12 percent. But the situation may change when the discount rate is raised.

Industry insiders warn about some downsides to buying a Galaxy S6 from overseas.

“When you purchase phones from overseas, additional costs may vary hugely depending on shipping fees and the currency rate,” said a PR manager with one of three mobile carriers. “You need to closely monitor the fluctuations in subsidy amounts and other purchasing options before going ahead with direct buying.”

After-sales service is an issue too. Some overseas purchasing agents promise a one-year guarantee for service for phones shipped from overseas, but that’s almost certain to require a lot of time and hassle.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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