European Galaxy Note 3 and other Samsung devices are now region locked [Updated]


UPDATE 2: There seems to be a bit of confusion and I hope this clears up. So according to the new statement – an unlocked Galaxy Note 3 will still be unlocked that could be used globally. However, to permanently unlock the device, a user will first have to insert a SIM from the supported EU country to activate it. After the activation, a user can choose any SIM from any country of his choice.

UPDATE: So a little more clarification from Samsung. Apparently, it is not region locked as the sticker wants us to believe. According to a new statement given to All About Samsung, an activation in Europe will permanently unlock the device for the user to use in any part of the world. The requirement is a bit absurd for an unlocked device and totally beats the purpose of owning an unlocked Samsung device from Europe.

UK-based retailer, Clove posted an interesting image yesterday that claimed the Galaxy Note 3 will only be “compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within Europe”. In simpler words, the device would work perfectly within EU countries but may not work when you insert a SIM card from an unsupported region. As absurd as it may sound, Samsung has even gone ahead and applied the same locking on other devices as well.

In a statement given to All About Samsung, Samsung confirms that devices produced by July-end carry the same region lock, which is highlighted by a similar sticker seen above. Some of the devices that have the regional SIM card lock are Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 mini, Galaxy Note II.

You can find the original statement albeit machine translated below.

Some current Samsung products are now provided with a local SIM card lock. This means that devices purchased in the European Union, with SIM cards of mobile operators from Germany and from the European Union and the European Economic Area (the “European region”) work as usual.

Users of these Samsung devices can continue to use these together with their SIM card of a mobile operator from the European region via roaming service to appropriate roaming charges to their wireless service provider around the world. If purchased in the European Union and not yet been put into use to be activated for the first time abroad, users can unlock their device for the region free from local Samsung service partners.

The regional SIM card lock only affects the following Samsung models that are produced from the end of July 2013, and provided with a corresponding sticker:

Samsung GALAXY S III, II, GALAXY Note, GALAXY S4, S4 GALAXY mini and the GALAXY Note 3

Devices that have been delivered by Samsung and are in camps or even at retail are not affected.

Specifically, there is a functionality of the devices with SIM cards of mobile operators from the following countries:

Countries of the European Economic Area (EEA):
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands , Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK, Switzerland, Croatia

- Non-EU/EEA:
Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Vatican City

  • Ursus Major

    This is not English. If the idea is that you cannot use a local SIM card, I will not buy another Samsung device again. Samsung has become the little bitch of the telecom operators. Really a sad sight!

  • tomjones2012b

    The sticker says otherwise, and it still means I can’t buy the phone in the UK for someone to use outside Europe.

  • jAMES

    If I use it in Europe then I can’t use it anywhere else. But if I don’t activate it in europe but go to non eu then I can use it there??????

    Confusing statment above. How about plain English version.

    Can we use our activated UK device in america with a local SIM…. sIMPLES

    • Kunal Gangar

      I have tried to clear things up with the second update. I hope this helps.

  • pingor

    actually the Samsung clarification doesn’t say that the phone is not region locked.
    If you read clearly it says that it is region locked but you can continue using via roaming: nowhere Samsung says that when you change your EU SIM with a non-EU SIM it will work.

    More revealing Samsung says that you can unlock the phone in authorised shops (in determinated conditions).

    So, yes.. they are region locked when comes to SIM.
    Samsung answer confirms it!

  • Luc Feenstra

    Have a read through the following article that explains exactly what this region lock means and gives answers to most of the questions that have been asked over the past few day :

  • Derek Miers

    Oh what a pity – I was planning on buying one of these; but now will need to start the search over. Or putting it another way, I wont buy one until Samsung remove this silliness and clean up the brand image.

    I’ve been stung with this sort of thing before … Sony tried and look where they are now (the divide and conquer mode). It either works anywhere … or it doesnt. And this doesn’t sound like it does.

    As a Forrester Analyst … it becomes an interesting example of self inflicted brand meltdown. Bring on the next keynote.

  • Lutz

    as Samsung would not even grace us with a clear statement, we shall vote with our purses.