Samsung Galaxy S4 in UK shortage drama on launch day

It's launch day for the Galaxy S4, but the superphone is proving so popular that phone networks and retailers are struggling to keep up.

Nick Hide Managing copy editor
Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
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Nick Hide
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Drama! Crisis! Shortages! It's launch day for the fabulous -- and CNET UK Editors' Choice winning -- Samsung Galaxy S4, but the Android superphone is proving so popular that phone networks and mobile retailers are struggling to keep up.

"There has been unprecedented demand for the Galaxy S4 in the UK," the Korean company boasts in a statement. "Samsung is working hard to ensure that pre-orders and sales across all channels are fulfilled as soon as possible."

Funnily enough, that's almost exactly what Samsung reps told my CNET News colleague Roger Cheng in the US too. You might wonder if this shortage is a co-ordinated element of the phone's global launch strategy.

Samsung's own retail stores have it on sale today, but most shops and networks have been saying the S4 will go on sale tomorrow. If they have enough stock, that is.

"We've seen huge demand for the Galaxy S4, but unfortunately we have received fewer devices than anticipated," a spokesperson for 4G network EE told me. "We're currently prioritising pre-order customers on a first-come, first-served basis, and we're working with Samsung to fulfil all remaining pre-orders as swiftly as possible."

O2 is feeling the pinch too. "For us, some customers (who've pre-ordered their handset before 19 April) will get their handset on 26 April," a spokesperson for the oxygenated operator told me. "These customers will receive an SMS to let them know, if a contact number has been provided at point of order. For other customers who've ordered their handset before 19 April they'll receive their handset from 27 April." O2 couldn't tell me how many customers are getting their S4 today.

It's a pretty rum do that Samsung can't provide enough supply of  a product when it almost completely controls its manufacturing. Especially when to secure a solid supply it's compromised on the groundbreaking octa-core chip, both here in the UK and in the US -- we're making do with a quad-core chip.

Nevertheless, the S4 received fulsome praise from our mobile expert Andy Hoyle, who in his in-depth review appreciated its spectacular power -- even with the UK's lesser quad-core chip -- and its big and bold Full HD screen. Its plastic case may not be quite as classy as metallic rivals the HTC One and iPhone 5, but unlike them you can swap its battery and expand its storage.

Have you got your S4? Did you pre-order? Have you seen them in shops? Let me know down in the comments, or over on our fully-stocked Facebook page.

Watch this: Samsung Galaxy S4