back to article Samsung Galaxy Note 3 region-locking saga CLEAR AS MUD

On Thursday, we reported that UK mobile-tech shop Clove had noted on its order page for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 that that device would work only with SIM cards issued in the region in which it was purchased. On Friday, it seems that the real situation might be different. Might. GigaOm's David Meyer now writes that Samsung's …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "In order to provide customers with the optimal mobile experience in each region including customer care services..."

    Don't serve me shit and tell me it's chocolate. The region locking is to get as much money as they can out of the poor saps they're shovelling this to, probably via some operator backhanders in return for this 'customer service enhancing feature'.

    Utter pricks.

    1. MrXavia

      Re: Yeah...

      Of course this is all down to marketing & corporate policy,not customer service..

      .The ONLY customer service issue is if they have had batches being mass sold in the wrong region, causing many customer services call for models that are different than the local ones.. but that is still a bit off...

      1. Eddy Ito


        It may very well be the case of maximizing profits. Checking the site linked to in the article and exchanging the £495 (without vat) gives me US$799. Having a look around the US sites it seems an unlocked Note 3 is going for closer to US$899 so perhaps that's what it's all about.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          But he told the truth!

          "provide customers with optimal mobile experience"

          In an NSA-like least offensive enhancement of the truth, this actually means the customer wanders around in confused fashion looking for a maintenance shop able to unlock the thing.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: @MrXavia @Eddy Ito

          Perhaps part of the price difference is that the Galaxy Note 3 isn't due to officially be available in the USA until October 1st...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah...

      But Android is an open platform, it is mobile nirvana and Samsung is its high priest.

      Fandroids all worship Sammy the high priest to save us from the walled gardens of Microsoft and Apple...

      Yeh right!

      All companies do things for their own benefit including all Android handset makers and this shows them for what they are.he only way to escape their clutches is to build your own and wear a tinfoil hat!

      Looking forward to the down votes :D

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yeah...

        I will not downvote in order to annoy you.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah...

      Well, I will stick with my unlocked iPhone because I know I can use a German sim, Australian Sim and Hong Kong sim and it will work.

      Shame on you Samsung.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah...

      Just pure dirt. Ca$hing in more like.

    5. DropBear

      Re: Yeah...

      Keeping in mind that generally the customer of a phone manufacturer is the carrier, not the poor sap who ends up physically carrying said device, the quoted statement suddenly starts making a lot more sense...

    6. Stuart 22 Silver badge

      Re: Yeah...

      I'll pass on the foreign SIMs as long as it will play my Region 3 DVDs.

      The Chinese (& LG) must be laughing (again).

    7. N13L5

      Re: Yeah...

      I've been a loyal Samsung Customer, and I was planning to buy a Note III right after launch.

      If this is really SIM locked by region, I will recommend against Samsung to every friend, family and collegues I know.

      I might even produce a call for a general Samsung boycott on the internet!

  2. Big-nosed Pengie

    Who in their right mind would buy such shite?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Those blinded by Samsung bling.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      People who want stupid features that don't work such as eye scrolling.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: stupid features that don't work such as eye scrolling.

        ...or fingerprint unlocking

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: stupid features that don't work such as eye scrolling.

          "or fingerprint unlocking"

          Sorry - but if Apple can get it to work reliably then *I* fucking-well want that. Up til now (?) it's been useless and unreliable but it looks like Apple have finally managed to make it workable.

          And that's the worst part of all this - Apple are *not* the best mobile phone maker out there, are not the best PC maker out there, they are not the best software company out there... but they take things that are broken - THAT NO-ONE ELSE has managed to make work AND THEY MAKE THEM FUCKING WORK.

          This is wrong in so many ways it's insane. Half-arsed implementations of good ideas is what this industry is built on. Come on people - sort your shit out. Apple shouldn't be the company to be telling you how to do these things.

    3. Brad Ackerman

      Someone who saw an unlocked phone with nice-looking features and couldn't have imagined a defect so batshit insane as this one.

  3. jerry 4

    Is there both a SIM LOCK as well as a REGION LOCK?

    The behavior described by the people with the activated an so REGION UNLOCKED phones could be explained if the phone was still SIM LOCKED.

    In the US, w/TMO, I need to get my phone SIM UNLOCKED before I can use any other non TMO SIM.

  4. WhoaWhoa

    >Samsung spokesperson... self-aggrandizing marketing mush:


    >'regional SIM lock' feature



    That's the very feature the world has waited for the innovation of: to make a thing /not/ work sometimes, by design!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Obviously it improves customer service as well!

      Honestly, I weep for the human race where someone actually, genuinely thought that this was a good idea.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is why you don't support one manufacturer at the expense of the rest. They all get greedy and screw their customers eventually.

      1. David Hicks

        >> This is why you don't support one manufacturer at the expense of the rest. They all get greedy and screw their customers eventually.


        Had started noticing I had a lot of Samsung kit around the place. They've started to be huge and that means eventually they'll start trying to abuse their position, or just get complacent and dumb.

        Locking is never a feature. You're making your product not work in some cases. This is not a positive!

  5. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Thanks El Reg

    I'll be sure not to buy one of these. Samsung is about to join Sony on the hardware shit-list, if they don't shape up.

    1. jaduncan

      Re: Thanks El Reg

      Sony, oddly enough, are now becoming one of the most FOSS friendly phone manufacturers.

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Thanks El Reg

      It is annoying indeed: I have a long memory, and don't forgive companies for shitty acts easily. This means that, when it comes to new kit, I won't have a Sony (the rootkit still sits very uneasily with me), nor an Apple (walled garden). Nokia sold out to Microsoft. Blackberry won't exist in a year's time at the rate they are going. Now Samsung is out unless they correct this *very* quickly. It looks as if Jolla are launching into a nice open market ...

  6. Eddy Ito

    So tell me again. Why does a phone have to be "activated" at all? If I buy an unlocked phone I should be able to put my SIM in the phone and dial away, this whole "activation" shite is for the fucking birds.

    1. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      I think that is the point here? These phones are not unlocked.

      Myself I plan to get a 64GB Note 3(+64GB SD) when I can find one(so far can only find 32GB). I am in the U.S. and have no interest in traveling abroad. Will be a nice step up from my 16GB (no SD expansion) Pre3.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Allegedly they are unlocked

        Per the original article:

        "Samsung has crippled its new Galaxy Note 3 by adding region-locking, making buyers of unlocked units attempting to use it in geographies outside of the area in which it was purchased subject to exorbitant roaming fees."

      2. Martin 47

        Thanks Nate, its nice when people confirm stereotypes.

      3. spudmasterflex

        Are you one of the many Americans that doesn't have a passport?

    2. dssf

      Is there any anti-theft merit to this?

      Is it possible that Samsung is testing a badly-implemented or non-disclosed theft-reduction measure?

      If the phone locks up after being stolen and activated in a new region of the world (as is often the case when phones are stolen), then presumably, to some extent, the "owner" or holder of the phone could be forced to show proof of purchase and proof of ownership before being allowed to enjoy the phone.

      Potentially, though, this could serve to more deeply tie individuals the messages coming from the phones. If each device somehow encodes the traffic flowing through it, not just sent to/from the named device's on-board email accounts, then a person's movements could be tracked even more, especially if a targeted handset is sent crafted for-tracking-purposes messages and lock-up instances.

      Just thinking, I accept that there are other and better means of achieving what I am imagining.

      1. A J Stiles

        Re: Is there any anti-theft merit to this?


        The main reason why people steal mobile phones is not so that they have a mobile phone, but so that the victim doesn't have one. It doesn't matter whether or not the stolen mobile is any use to the thief or anyone. The aim was always to deprive, not to acquire.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is there any anti-theft merit to this?

        > Is it possible that Samsung is testing a badly-implemented

        > or non-disclosed theft-reduction measure?

        Here, have a "fanboi" brand straw to clutch at. :-/

  7. Dr Trevor Marshall
    Thumb Down

    Software *UPGRADE*?

    Sammy is pushing out the 'fix' in a software 'upgrade' for older phones?

    Grab the popcorn - but after you have switched off automatic updates on your own phone...

    1. Brad Ackerman

      Re: Software *UPGRADE*?

      I've got auto-update—my phone lets me know whenever the latest Cyanogen release is available. Come for the security patches that stop random people from pwning your phone; stay for the patches that stop Samsung from pwning it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good old Samsung. They're introduced region coding for phones.

    Okay, I can understand that you may need to ensure that LTE and other stuff works in the country it is being imported into. But some people would just be happy with 3G.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      I was thinking about that, too. Because the US doesn't support LTE Band III (it's a military frequency there), I'm curious to know the LTE frequency list of the European Note 3. It needs to support Bands IV or XVII to be useable in the US for the most part.

      1. Paul

        but take it with a pinch of salt

        Available as:

        Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9000 with 3G connectivity

        Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9002 with dual SIM card support

        Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9005 with 3G & LTE connectivity.

        Also known as Samsung Galaxy Note III

        GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900

        3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100

        4G Network LTE

        1. Roland6 Silver badge


          The GSM Arena specifications are a summary and incomplete.

          According to the Samsung website the 4G frequency bands supported are: "LTE (800 / 850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600MHz) dependent on market support" ie. Samsung are saying that the "Note3" product will support all LTE frequencies but may not support all 44 LTE bands and duplexing schemes (TDD and FDD). But they don't give any details on what the capabilities are of individual product models released in each region.

          Apple for the iPhone 5s, give on their website for each of the five product models, the set of LTE bands the handset supports along with the duplexing schemes supported.

          Without this level of detail it is difficult to determine if a UK/EU activated Note3 can be taken to the USA and have any US network's SIM installed and for the phone to be able to connect and use that operator's 4G network service, or whether it will just default to 3G.

    2. dssf

      Imagine if the Enterprise landing party comm badges worked like this...

      It would be hell trying to call for an emergency beam-out if orbit was not high enough and required regional/geostationary relay satellites, and some miscreant encoded with regions.... (akin to military units being assigned different bands and freqs and such...)

      1. AndyC

        Re: Imagine if the Enterprise landing party comm badges worked like this...

        They're the comm badges they give to the red shirt of the week...

        Mine's the one with the gold pressed latinum in the side pocket.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Please excuse this OT comment...

    ...but Orlowski won't allow my comment on the IPCC article.

    I hope all the anti-IPCC trolls will read this.

    People can make their own minds up as to the veracity.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

      Like buying region-locked phones, commenting on Orly articles is not necessarily recommended.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

      This is SOP for Orly. Every article he posted was once 'comment free'. A few allowed it but it seems that he is reverting to type again.

      Come on El Reg, can you at least tell us why your esteemed hack won't let us comment on his posts?

      Does he have something to hide?

      The readership deserves to know the truth.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

        If us commentards want to 'stick it to the man'....

        Whenever there is an article with comments disabled, post any comments on the closest previous article with comments enabled...

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

          Whenever there is an article with comments disabled, post any comments on the closest previous article with comments enabled...

          Comments are enabled on Orlowsky's polemic based on falsehoods carefully researched piece. My comment was censored "rejected".

    3. Homer 1

      Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

      Yes, I know what you mean. I was once demoted to "moderated" by Orlowski, simply for pointing out, on one of his typical propaganda pieces which asked the loaded question; "Why does Google lobby so much?", that the reason was obviously to counter those lobbying against them, specifically Microsoft's well documented Screw Google campaign (which is stil ongoing).

      That didn't go down too well with Orlowski, nor does the truth in general, or anything else that proves him wrong, or more accurately that which exposes him as being consciously on the side of wrong, pretty much in all things (from climate change to corporate ethics, and beyond).

      In essence, pick anything which is generally accepted as immoral or harmful, and Orlowski is almost certainly guaranteed to gleefully support it, and vice versa.

      His views are so offensive and antithetical that comments were permanently disabled on his "articles" for many years, until quite recently (for some reason that he never explained), whereupon he started cherry-picking those comments that either didn't oppose his radical views or (in very rare instances) actually supported them, whilst censoring everything else.

      I assume he's tolerated by El Reg because the outrage he causes sends page hits, and thus advertising revenue, through the roof, because it's certainly not for his insightful observations. The cynic in me might suppose that Orlowski doesn't even believe in any of his own polemic rhetoric, but he produces it specifically as click-bait.

      1. Pete Spicer

        Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

        If Wikipedia is to be believed (both The Register's page and Orlowski's own page), he is the executive editor of El Reg.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

          I thought Lewis Page was the editor (at least according to the most recent post on Lewis's bog, dated 13 Dec 2011: "Full time staff hack job at the Reg has now turned into being the editor and running the show, to the extent anyone does."

          Is there a difference between editor and executive editor? Obviously there's a timezone difference between Page and Orlowski.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

            In UK law, the roles of "editor" and "publisher" are defined by law and have to exist in some form, if you want to distribute yourself in the UK. (How this applies to websites, I don't know.) But they're the ones who carry the legal liabilities for what gets published.

            "Executive Editor" is not (AFAIK) defined in law or otherwise standardised, but my guess would be he's the one in charge of shouting "Oi! You call this copy? I could fart better copy than this when I was 12! Now get your knickers back on and write me 500 words on why Nokia was lucky to get Elop!" - at the hacks on a daily basis.

        2. WhoaWhoa

          Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

          Could they be the same bloke?

          Until a few years ago (3? 4?) the BBC technology news page was one of my most regular / frequent hangouts. Quite a few new articles every day and some high quality journalism. Then the BBC clearly cut back web journalism funding enormously, not just for technology news, but most news. Stories dropped to, often, just 2-3 per day, if that, and often nothing new at the w/e.

          Being a long fan of the BBC (e.g. World Service) for years because of the very high quality of ut's journalism over many years, I clung on to the Tech News section for ages. Then I realised that most things with a pretence of technical understanding or content had been replaced by Rory Cellan-Jones' vapid technology-equates-to-Apple-gadget-announcements attempts. Granted, he moved (sideways?) from reporting on finance for years, and at first he did seem to look for an angle, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt for quite a while. He seemed quiet a pleasant bloke, if a little confused by the technology world he now had to move in.

          Eventually I realised that not only was he a rank amateur (in its uncomplementary sense) in the whole technology field, but that he seemed to have no interest whatsoever in improving his own limited understanding. So many articles were either of the "I've discovered Twitter. I'm tweeting. Look at me" type or else of the, "I'm attending another Apple launch; here's my free new iGadget to review and am not really interest in other companies except for occasional negative comparison with my Jobsian fantasy world" type.

          In the end I ditched my many-years loyalty, looked for other web sites with decent technology news and ended up here. It wasn't so much that the stories or journalism were always good, they sometimes weren't, but at least they were frequent and, mostly, news. It was more that there are clearly a lot of knowledgable readers and commentators which greatly added to the useful information and, sometimes, there was some good Private Eye style humour.

          All good things come to an end. The honeymoon period receded and whether I wanted the Eye-like humour varied with mood. But, worst of all, were my encounters with Mssrs. Lewis and Page. Their amateur (in the worst possible sense) stance on a few topics, most notably climate science, in which they amount to a mini-Flat Earth Society, being so out out touch with the vast majority of main stream science (as studied by actual, life-long, knowledgable, professional scientists) and so (i) ill-informed and (ii) unwarrantedly opinionated meant that I couldn't take much that they said seriously. On the few occasions when I criticised their articles my criticism was usually 'moderated' (removed). No doubt they believe that suppressing dissent is a fundamental approach of the (their) scientific method. Of course that doesn't really work. It just creates a ghetto of ignorance in which the wilfully uninformed can wallow at will while the world continues without them.

          So, having risen to the top in my search for technology news, taking my own first-place award from no less than the BBC, I'm now on a quest for alternatives to El Reg. For me, Orlowski and Lewis have done for The Register what R C-J did for the BBC.

          I doubt that this post will remain long, from past experience (and that of others, it seems). Criticism of weak ideas (those of O and P) is met, more often than not with deletion. But I will have the satisfaction of having put my thoughts down and possibly having having a small number of people read them before they are 'disappeared'.

          New, better sites inevitably rise to take the place of those whose demise is underway.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

        "the outrage he causes sends page hits, and thus advertising revenue, through the roof, because it's certainly not for his insightful observations. "

        A bit like the Terrible Tims then, Worstall, and Prickett Morgan.

        Do advertisers really still pay per view rather than per clickthrough?

        This place gets more like the Inquirer as the years go by. And that's not a good thing.

    4. nsld

      Re: Please excuse this OT comment...

      Well I read the link, that's 10 minutes I won't get back.

      I suspect you where moderated to protect you from ridicule rather than for the content of the post.

  10. derek h

    KitKat, grey areas and clear English

    Speaking to Samsung UK this afternoon:

    - the region lock will apparently be included in the forthcoming Kitkat upgrade to be rolled out next month and thereby be installed in any existing Samsung devices which upgrade even if, as many will be, they are currently without a region lock.

    - the effect of the region lock following the activation of any European Note 3 with a SIM issued by a telco operator in the European region was a "grey area" still under discussion, notwithstanding reported comments from other European Samsung offices.

    - a statement from Samsung at some point might be released on its website about this matter but in the meanwhile I was advised that I should not buy an unlocked Note 3 if worried by the region lock until sufficient clarification was given.

    The Samsung UK representative who had taken the time to call me back this Friday afternoon was impressively frank but could not give any further clarity pending instructions from senior Samsung management. Please would Mr J.K. Shin take charge of this and arrange for a proper clarification in clear English of the application of the region lock, and the extent to which the terms of the legal notice accompanying new Note 3s are misleading. Mr Shin seems a decent and intelligent individual and his credibility will surely be further improved if he can arrange a swift and coordinated confirmation from Samsung Global and its European offices that an unlocked note 3 will never have any MCC whitelist or similar restriction in force following its first ever use.

    1. Rik Myslewski
      Thumb Up

      Re: KitKat, grey areas and clear English

      Excellent post that bring some clarity to this murky situation. Thanks, Derek.

    2. jaduncan

      Re: KitKat, grey areas and clear English

      On existing devices? Well, I'm glad that won't result in an extremely predictable class action lawsuit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: KitKat, grey areas and clear English

        Is this an example of Samsung innovation or an area where they are not copying Apple ;) ;)

  11. Anakin

    Bye bye Sammy

    I'll keep my S3 a while and buy another brand next time

  12. julianh72

    "Optimal mobile experience"

    Yeah, right! "Customer service" at its finest!

  13. silent_count

    Sammy vs

    So, I wonder if there's any progress towards implementing the Aussie parliamentary enquiry's recommendations to essentially stamp out geo-locking. And for the UK readers, be sure to forward the linked article to your MP.

    Enough already! These companies want the benefits of globalization - making their stuff and paying their taxes wherever it's cheapest - but don't want their customers enjoying the same benefits. That's fine. I can see how it works for them. What I don't get is why we should play along.

    For the life of me I can't work out how anyone at Samsung thought the financial benefits of this region lock business is going to out-weigh the PR blowback.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And people say that Samsung is a copycat

    Here is a "feature" that if you heard about it, you'd be certain Apple would have been first to bring it to market, but Samsung beat them to it!

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: And people say that Samsung is a copycat

      Well actually, I have to defend Apple on this one (sorry). Bought a Mac, and can swap the language and regional settings between any option my iPos Touch too (don't know about the phone version of the iPod). Bought a PC with MS windows. The language is fixed - to change it you have to buy a new copy of MS Windows.

      1. Chet Mannly

        Re: And people say that Samsung is a copycat

        "Bought a PC with MS windows. The language is fixed - to change it you have to buy a new copy of MS Windows."

        Err - I don't think so, you just have to download a language pack if it isn't one of the ones already installed on the machine, it isn't region locked.

        Apple just install every language pack at the factory, which takes up valuable drive space - swings and roundabouts...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The wankiness of it.

    Still calling Macedonia "F.Y.R.O.M." I mean. The rest does not really deserve a comment.

  17. PaulR79

    Fantastic idea!

    I see they're competing with BlackBerry to see who can lose market share fastest and this is their trump card clearly. Nokia had an early start then HTC and BlackBerry threw their chips in but Samsung have just pulled out an incredible hand that has the potential to beat all others. After this valuable 'feature' is added I predict their next innovation will involve the phone only working with pre-approved carriers in select countries. Those networks will, of course, be the highest priced and getting some lovely little benefits from Samsung.

    Region locking a phone? This really is a crazy time to be living in isn't it? Companies dodging tax all over to keep as much money as possible and at the same time using any trick they can to charge as much as they can. Burning the candle at both ends there Samsung. Great for your cash piles but not so much if you want to stay in business.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Greedy Bastards

    They have indeed outdone Apple.

    How the fuck is locking down your phone a fucking feature to improve customer experience?

    And ,if as they say, it just needs activation in country of purchase, then no need for further unlocking, why the fuck bother with it in the first place?

    Having customers go looking for a Samsung service centre to have it unlocked in a foreign country is "enhancing customer experience". My fat arse logic.

    I am travellng to Timbaktu next week. Can someone give the address of this Samsung centre there?


    1. Dave Bell

      Re: Greedy Bastards

      It's all about the "grey" market, which has been going on the high-tech gear for as long as I can remember. I first saw it with cameras, where there were different model numbers in the USA and UK for the same camera, and different prices.

      But at least the film was the same size, and used the same photons.

      If you import a phone from the USA, does it use the same frequencies? Is it lawful to sell it in Europe?

      This might not be just corporate greed. But if you were in Europe, and bought one of these phones in the belief you could use it in the USA when you visited, it looks as though you have a chance of getting your money back.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Greedy Bastards

        Then why not just put a disclaimer, saying the freuqency might not work in USA ? That's all that is required.

        Travellers are not that dumb and this frequency difference is well known over the years. Get real man.

        Why the fuck lock it and say "enhanced & optimal customer experience".

        I think this terminolgy should be banned from Marketspeak.

        Greedy Bastards indeed.

      2. Chet Mannly

        Re: Greedy Bastards

        "This might not be just corporate greed. But if you were in Europe, and bought one of these phones in the belief you could use it in the USA when you visited, it looks as though you have a chance of getting your money back."

        Except this has been the case with every single GSM phone Samsung have made - the US has always had different frequencies and they have always produced specific versions with different frequencies for carriers in the US. Regardless, "international" version phones usually have at least one band that will be compatible with US GSM networks (I used a Galaxy S 2 on AT&T 3G in the US on a number of occasions)

        This is nothing but greed pure and simple - Samsung want to maintain different pricing for different regions and stop people from getting around their price gouging by importing.

        Think I'll be looking to Cyanogen for the Kit Kat update for my Note 2...

  19. Fihart

    "In order to provide customers with the optimal mobile experience in each region including customer care services, Samsung has incorporated the 'regional SIM lock' feature into Galaxy Note 3 devices. "

    More corporate-speak claptrap.

    Move over Samsung, your phones are sold at premium prices and do not seem all that sturdy -- plus your add-ons to Android are considered naff. Now, this attempt to curb the grey market to the potential inconvenience of users.

    Move over for the Chinese who have been learning from building stuff cheaply for you. The first Chinese brand to market properly in Europe with a dual SIM, plain vanilla Android, decent battery life etc for around 150 euros could clean up -- are you listening Huawei, ZTE ?

  20. Andus McCoatover

    "...the optimal mobile experience...."

    ...Is for me to use the fuc*ker mobile - i.e., where I want.

    Reads like the justification for Windows Genuine Advantage!

    1. Fihart

      Re: "...the optimal mobile experience...." @Andus McCoatover

      Welcome to the Samsung Geographical Advantage.

  21. psychonaut


    Ffs. They had it all. Now they can get fucked

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EU requirements

    I wonder how much this is to satisfy the EU that are breathing down Samsung's neck at the behest of Apple, Microsoft etc.?

  23. Wang N Staines

    Stop buying Samsung!!!

    I'm advising friends & family not to buy any Samsung products, being a geek has its perks. :-)

    If we (the free tech support for family/friends) act together and advise them to avoid Samsung, I'm sure this will hit Samsung hard.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grey market move

    It's to stop companies importing a device sold cheaply in another market and then selling on. It's no big deal for a normal user. If you personal import from Malaysia/China, I'm sure the seller will activate it first with a local sim before shipping in the same way that they set the default language to English for you now.

    Of course T&C's might say you have to return a faulty phone for service to the original service region depot.

    1. Chet Mannly

      Re: Grey market move

      "If you personal import from Malaysia/China, I'm sure the seller will activate it first with a local sim before shipping in the same way that they set the default language to English for you now."

      But if these reports are correct that won't work - you would have to have the phone activated in China with *your* SIM.

      It looks like this move specifically aims to prevent grey market imports.

  25. JaitcH

    VietNam has cell hangset locking legislation ...

    which has resulted in most every cell handset sold here being unlocked. Even Apples are cellco unlocked.

    This afternoon (GMT -7) I went to two stores to check out the situation. The price here is FIXED, by Samsung, at 16,900,000.00 VND (495.86 GBP, 591.99 EUR, 800.49 USD).

    To get around this stores issue 'Discount Cheques' to be used for future transactions (including a cash out at face value).

    At one store they showed me the original packaging they had from two Note 3's on display and at the other they opened a brand new Note 3. NONE HAD WARNING NOTICES with respect to locking.

    I visited the Samsung country office in TP HCM and specifically asked about locking when bought from an independent (non-Cellco) authorised dealer and I was told they had no answer and that I would have to wait until Monday.

    If Samsung thinks I am going to spend 16,900,000.00 VND of corporate money on a one-country handset, they can go to hell.

    I also wonder what the legality is on buying a Note 2 handset bought from an independent (non-Cellco) authorised dealer which is then restricted?

    1. Chet Mannly

      Re: VietNam has cell hangset locking legislation ...

      "I also wonder what the legality is on buying a Note 2 handset bought from an independent (non-Cellco) authorised dealer which is then restricted?"

      Dunno if its legal, but as someone who has an unlocked Note 2 if the next software upgrade introduces this restriction its the last Samsung phone I buy.

      That's the key advantage of Android for me - I can buy my next handset from another vendor, disable their bloatware, install my own launcher and I have pretty much exactly the same phone software-wise.

      Hardware makers are close to being interchangeable in the Android world, its not like Apple where they can do what they want and you either accept or change OS...

    2. JaitcH

      Re: VietNam has cell handset locking legislation UPDATE

      I continued my search for the elusive unlocked Note 3 on Saturday evening and have found some more information on this lock.

      An "unlocked" Note 3 has to be INITIALLY LOADED WITH A SIM FROM THE REGION OF PURCHASE and after that it can be used globally.

      However, if purchased under a term contract it will remain locked to that particular cellco. Cellco contracts are not exactly popular out here in the Far East.

      I went to a notorious discounter in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday night and they had Note 3 advertising on their window but it had a large winking eye on the poster.

      Th salesman, who spoke fluent English, showed me that after being initialised with a local SIM (which they do for you) you can insert a Rogers Canada, or an AT&T SIM with full functionality, then you can re-insert a VN SIM and it, too, is fine.

      My 'friendly' salesman said they had carefully opened up all 19 units they had for sale and had initialised them with a VN SIM

      As I mentioned above the Note 3 is listed for VN Dong 16,900,000 including 10% VAT, BUT IT MUST BE PAID FOR IN CASH.

      The deal this rogue offered was the Samsung fixed price (16 GB) and after filling in a customer information form, he then issued a VAT rebate form AND he refunded IN CASH the VAT amount PLUS he through in a Samsung case (retail value VN Dong 600,000). VAT is a strange subject in VietNam as there are so many ways to avoid it.

      He cannot discount the unit price. Other dealers are issuing Discount Coupons which can be used for other purchases or a cash payout.

      I realised, after reading press reports this Samsung scheme had been in effect since 2013 July, a Canadian friend who had bought a 'restricted' S4 in VN had experienced no problems after returning home.

      WHAT or HOW Samsung hopes to achieve with this is hard to understand since once a unit has been initialised with a appropriate SIM, the grey market can thrive as usual.

      I now own a black version, with my free case, and am supposedly free to roam.

  26. Anonymous C0ward

    If they can roll out this region lock to existing phones in a software update, does that mean it's something that can be removed just by using CyanogenMod?

    Also, won't the EU be all over their arses for this?

    1. derek h

      EU and US competition issues?

      The EU and US competition issues could be relevant to explore if the region lock is not formally confirmed to be anything other than a one-time activation test.

      Question if a region lock is less about restricting grey/parallel imports into countries outside out of the Europe/US (cheap imports into the US/Europe might arguably be expected to be more of an issue!) and more about leveraging the ability of the phone manufacturer to lock out certain carriers based in countries outside the region in which the phone was sold, while not blocking access to any carrier within the region where the product was sold. Such a lock-out could presumably have significant value to a manufacturer with a material or dominant market share - follow the money?

      If the carriers not based in region complain about the region lock in a court in the local jurisdiction/region where product sold, then hand on heart the manufacturer could argue that:

      - it was not engaging in anti-competitive behaviour in that jurisdiction as the region lock did not restrict any carrier at all in that region from having its SIM used in that product; and

      - anti-competitive behaviour affecting a completely different region of the world is not something a local court in the region where the product was sold would have any jurisdiction to deal with - courts can only deal with their own local laws.

      On the other hand if disadvantaged carriers complain in their own region about the terms on which a product is being sold in a completely different region that may be something which its local courts feel is outside of their own jurisdiction as the offending sale is to a consumer in a totally different region by a person in that different region on terms agreed between that consumer and seller.

      Meanwhile, the manufacturer might argue that consumers buying product suffer no damage in being limited in choice of carrier outside home region as they were expressly warned about compatibility issues for SIMs outside the local region in advance of buying the phone (or, potentially/hypothetically in case of Kitkat, downloading the software) and accepted the condition.

      I genuinely hope that this region lock idea of Samsung is a single use test and there is nothing more to it. However, until there is real clarity on the issue I guess there has got to be the chance that the corporate policy to install the region lock in all if not most of its key mobile products including existing ones which wish to upgrade to Kitkat, might have a more commercial, consumer unfriendly motive.

      1. bep

        Re: EU and US competition issues?

        Consumer law also comes into it in Australia. For example, resale price maintenance of the kind described in Vietnam is illegal in Australia, don't know about other jurisdictions (having said that, Apple seems to have successfully prevented discounting on its products in a way that doesn't seem to have ever been adequately investigated). Any anti-competitive behaviour that affects consumers can attract the attention of the relevant authorities.

  27. Mr. Peterson

    Note to self:

    bookmark this article as a reminder as to why to never purchase a Samsung smart phone - DONE!

  28. Peddler

    EU Roaming Zone Connection?

    Is it possible that this is a poorly-communicated and bone-headed execution of a plan to comply with the European Union's plan to eliminate or reduce roaming charges within the EU? ( It would make sense that you would have to first activate it with a European carrier and sim card and let it initialize with all of the carriers that would be part of the no-roaming or cheaper roaming pact.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1. The original sticker says otherwise, 2. When they say "The regional SIM lock does NOT affect the device's features and performance." is incorrect, if you put in a non-European region SIM first.

    If I buy a Samsung phone, Samsung get their cut. If the grey market is working against them, then LOWER your prices until it works.

  30. mike_ul

    Is this why?

    I suspect it's to stop me buying the unit on, say, when I'm a UK customer In other words, getting it cheaper than, and then simply sticking my UK SIM card in it. Now, I would need to insert a German SIM card, activate the unit and only then can I pop my UK SIM into the phone. Obviously, this is a lot of hassle (I'd need a German SIM card for starters) but I suppose it's because features of the phone my be targeted to that region.

    I can kind of see why although it is irritating. Just a guess ....

    1. Fihart

      Re: Is this why? @ Mik_ul

      To take the example you cite, if the EU is meant to be a single market, the efficient German retailer with his lower prices is being artificially disadvantaged. Samsung's products being crippled prevents our German taking advantage of the common market.

      However, as I recall, Levi Strauss and the French toiletries companies has been successful in blocking parallel imports by Tesco and Superdrug.

    2. derek h

      Re: Is this why?

      As the UK and Germany are both countries within the EU, the region lock on a European region Note 3 in your example should have no impact. A SIM issued by an operator in either the UK or Germany should suffice equally well to activate the phone.

      Your point is very relevant though if, as say a Russian resident from outside the defined European region, you ordered a Note 3 from without arranging its activation first with a SIM issued by an operator within the European region countries listed on the legal notice. Two possibilites seem relevant:

      - If you have first arranged for it to be activated with a SIM issued by an operator within the European region (whether in Germany, UK, ireland, Monaco etc etc) and then delivered the activated phone to you in Russia, the region lock might still prevent you using it with a SIM issued by an operator based in Russia (as that operator is not in the European region countries listed on the legal notice). The success of this route ultimately depends on whether the region lock really turns out to block (or not to block) other SIMs issued outside the European region which you wish to use in the phone after its initial activation.

      - Another option may be to ship the phone from Germany to you in Russia without activation at all. And then go to a local Samsung service centre in Russia to have the restriction removed. Apparently they may do this and presumably thereby change the home region of the region lock.

      However, this begs the question as to the purpose of the region lock in the first place if, as in the above example, the region lock does not in practice prevent grey imports to countries outside the European or US home region. An alternate possible explanation for its purpose might be to allow the manufacturer to cause well-off phone owners from the European (or US) region travelling outside their particular home region only to be able to use SIMs in their phones issued by networks in countries outside their home region if the network is approved by Samsung and an exception for that approved network is embedded in the software implementing the region lock that would otherwise block networks in such countries. The European (or US) owners could then find themselves only able to use their Samsung phone outside their home region with certain network carriers (pre-approved/not blocked by Samsung) which carriers might be very grateful for less competition to provide local SIMs to such travellers.

      Hopefully this is not a purpose of the region lock and the region lock will be clarified by Samsung Global not to apply following the very first activation of the phone, if at all.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha ha ha

    Android sheeple got their knickers in a twist. LOL.

    1. BogBeast

      Re: Ha ha ha

      Well, at least we have plenty of other phone vendors to give our money to. Those holding iphones, not so much..

      Samsung may come to regret the decision, depends how much negative PR this generates around becoming restrictive (as Apple...) .

      I would hazard a guess that 80% of handsets that Samsung sells NEVER leave the country they are bought in, those that do, vast majority will do so on a roaming agreement, leaving a very small number of people (by %) that might have be disadvantaged by this.

      Samsung see commercial benefit in making the change and made a judgement on how that will effects their bottom line. Lets see how it pans out....

  32. Sosman

    The marketing people have taken control at Samsung, is this the beginning of the end?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, it is

      the beginning of the end for Samsung. Samsung, like Nokia, only have the brand name. Chinese manufacturers are starting to eat their lunch because distribution can be as powerful as brand. This is making Samsung nervous and twitchy. This completely idiotic move proves that the same management disease that infected Nokia has infected Samsung as well.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    to stop people parallel importing

    I brought a Hong Kong note 2 to use in NZ to save $200.

    Because its a parallel it doesn't have a local warranty or support.

    I think this policy is to stop people parallel importing.

    Another approach is like Dell, I brought a dell in Singapore and the warranty works anywhere in the world.

    The market is different now, I needed a phablet and it was the only one out there, now there are many.

    No more Samsung for me.

  34. derek h

    Third locked region - Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Pakistan

    There now seems to be a third home region lock identified (see legal notice posted at for the latest Samsung phones.

    The countries in this third region as:

    "UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Turkey, Morocco, Western Shara, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Iran, Saudia Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt."

    [NB: UAE consists of: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain.]

    The other two region locks already identified so far are:

    1. European region

    "EU/EEA, Switzerland and the following Non-EEA countries Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M), Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia and Vatican City)"

    [NB: I expect reference to "EU/EEA" is intending to mean: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Icelan, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.]

    2. Americas region

    "The North, South and Central Americas and the Caribbean."

  35. At0micAndy

    another reason not to buy a Samsung. I routinely use local sims when I visit other countries.

  36. Ian Watkinson

    Old School DVD player / Telly manufacturer brings much loved region locking to mobiles under banner of innovation.

    Apple did gold, we can do gold!

    Apple did finger locking, we can lock whole damn regions!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm ordering an iPhone as we speak - my last Samsung 3 weeks to fix = massive fail.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not usually very iPhone friendly on here but this makes Apple seem relatively 'open' in this respect. What next a Samsung only 'Play' store where they take a cut and the phones are locked to only use it.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bought some i-Phone 5's from carphone warehouse

    They were locked to UK only sim's as we found out when openng them in Russia to use.

    apparently CPW knew this but failed to tell us when we asked if they work abroad with non UK sims

  40. Alan Potter 1

    This is such a bone-headed move on Samsung's part.

    Sure, I've not yet been seconded to a country where I've stayed long enough to buy a local SIM. But like most of us in the tech business, that's something that might change tomorrow.

    There's no way that I'm going to buy a phone that would prevent me from using a local SIM!

    My S2 comes out of contract next month... I was planning to replace it with an S4. Ain't gonna happen now.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fine by me

    If Samsung don't want my business, then they don't get my business. I simply will not buy a region locked phone. If this is Samsung's policy when it comes time to upgrade my S3, they can fuck off.

  42. AndyC

    Loads of vitriol flung at Samsung...

    But do any of the other manufacturers do this?

    I mean, can you get a MS/Nokia handset in the US and use it in Australia?

    What about an iphone 5s?

    I was toying with upgrading my Note for the Note III, but I think I'll take a look at the Nexus 5 instead.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Loads of vitriol flung at Samsung...

      Agree, Samsung are suffering because of the way they've decided to implement things with respect to their 4G handsets (or are people seeing this region lock/activation on pure 3G handsets manufactured by Samsung after July 2013?).

      Interestingly, Apple have received very little flack for locking the iPhone 5s available from third-parties, so for example an 'unlocked' 5s from Carphone Warehouse will lock to the network of the first SIM the phone is activated with; only phones purchased from Apple's stores are truly unlocked...

      Also I've yet to find any phone maker, who has a true global/universal 4G phone, they all (yes that includes Apple, Sony, Nokia, Google etc.) have released regional variants. So at a fundamental level they will all have 4G roaming difficulties, which may or may not impact individual users. However the only way to find out such information is to drill into the radio specifications and specifically down to the LTE channels/bands supported by individual models of a handset. It is here that Samsung haven't done themselves any favours by not publishing model numbers for the regional variants and the LTE bands each variant supports.

      Secondly Samsung haven't helped themselves by keeping quiet about the way they seem to require new phones to be activated, by not providing an explanation of what a user needs to do ie. first activate with a SIM from the same region as the handset, and what the limitations are on handsets in terms of region locking, both with a home region SIM and with a foreign SIM.

      It will be interesting to see how the other vendors react to this, I would hope we will see better communication of phone activation and regional limitations.

      The silly thing is that I suspect that if Samsung hadn't implemented an activation SIM requirement many people who are currently shouting would be quite happy, until they took their phone abroad and found that they couldn't get 4G connectivity...

  43. Highrisedrifter

    Never again, Samsung, never again...

    I have third hand experience of this. One of my friends, a British citizen, bought a Note 3 from the Samsung Store at the launch event in London last week. He activated the phone with the guy in the store (who made no mention of this region lock) using his UK Three sim card and everything was fine. I saw the phone and it looked lovely and worked perfectly.

    Then on Saturday, he travelled to Hong Kong on business, as he often does, and put his HK sim card in the phone. It wouldn't work and required a password. He messaged me yesterday to tell me about it and up to that point was completely unaware that the device was region locked and isn't the sort of chap to go out of his way to look up news about Android devices anyway; he just wants a phone that works as a business device 'out of the box' (his words).

    Now the issue is, he is out in HK for a month with a brick in his suitcase that he can't use and no way for his clients and colleagues in HK to contact him unless he either buys a local phone and puts his sim in it, or pays for the extortionate roaming charges from the UK. To say he is annoyed would be an understatement. He will be returning the device to the store when he gets back to the country and claim that the device was sold under false pretences (i'm sure he can work out exactly what to say).

    He had a few Samsung devices, which is why he went for the Note 3, but now he wants to divest himself of all of them following the news that this region lock will be rolled out to more than just the Note 3 in an update.

    This has also stopped me from buying one too as I was going to replace my old SGS2 with it as, like him, I frequently travel abroad for protracted period on business. I hope Samsung burn for this.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Never again, Samsung, never again...

      So what happens when he puts the 3UK SIM back into the phone?

      Does the phone start up normally and connect to 3 Hong Kong?

      In which case he doesn't have a total brick, he has a phone on which he can take advantage of Three's "Feel at Home" tariff. So he will be able to call the Samsung London store as if it were a UK local call on the 3UK network and obtain an unlock code...

      1. Highrisedrifter

        Re: Never again, Samsung, never again...

        He tried the UK sim in again and yes it does work. Upon calling the London store, he was told that he needs to visit a Samsung Service Centre in the UK with his device for them to unlock the phone. The CSR on the phone was apparently very insistent about this as he was in HK and using a phone bought in the UK.

        Although he can use his UK sim card in HK, his local number is the one all his colleagues and clients expect to be able to reach him on so this is a very inelegant solution...

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Never again, Samsung, never again...

          @highrisedrifter thanks for coming back with more details.

          Not wishing to doubt you or your colleague, it does seem that - based on the information available on the web, the first use of the 3UK SIM didn't actually unlock the region lock on his UK purchased Note 3, which Samsung claim it should...

          Whilst your colleague could visit a Samsung Service Centre in the UK and have the phone unlocked for free, I suggest their best option would be to follow the example of UK Mobile Review and purchase an unlock code from (see article here ).

          Let us know how they get on.

          Finally, I see Samsung have released a further 'clarification' which is discussed here:

          But your experience seems to contradict what is being said here.

  44. Squuiid

    More Samsung deception:

  45. antisony

    Own Goal !

    A few years ago Sony did a similar trick and blocked previously allowed Linux on the PSP.

    I did not have a PSP, I was not in the market for any Console, but on principle I stopped buying Sony products (TV, Mobile, MP3, Headphones, screen etc). One of the biggest winners of this action was Samsung (MP3, 7 Mobiles (for the whole family), 2 PC screens). I am currently in the market for a flat screen TV and a slate/slab/tablet. If this is true about Samsung, although it hardly affects me personally, on principle Samsung will go on my "to avoid" list along with Sony,Nokia and Müllermilch.

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