Traditionally, smartphones are launched in two product cycles – one at the beginning of the year and one at the end – and Samsung’s Galaxy Note series has traditionally been reserved for an announcement in August or September of each year.
Last year saw the Note range excluded from Europe for the first time in its history and despite a petition that gained over 10,000 signatures, Samsung has so far held fast on its decision not to offer the Galaxy Note 5 in Europe. This decision has outraged many potential would-be customers in Europe – myself included – and means importing the Galaxy Note 5 is the only option currently available.
There’s a lot of questions you have to ask when importing a phone, and it’s easy to get confused so we’ve got a handy buyer’s guide below that will tell you everything you need to know about buying the Galaxy Note 5 in Europe.
Why Import the Galaxy Note 5?
Before we discuss why you might want to import a Note 5 for yourself, it’s worth keeping the following disclosure in mind:
When importing a smartphone or buying on the “grey market”, there is usually NO WARRANTY provided by the manufacturer, meaning should anything go wrong, there will usually be a charge associated with having the handset repaired.
Only import a smartphone if you are aware of this risk.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that it’s unlikely that your Galaxy Note 5 will come with a wall charger that works in your country. While this is certainly not ideal, pretty much any Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 compatible charger can quickly charge your Note 5, usually at the same speeds as Samsung’s charger.
Now we’ve cleared the disclosure, let’s get into the Galaxy Note 5. We’ve covered this smartphone in intricate detail, right from the full review, to independent features on the battery life, camera, and tips and tricks. It’s been pitted against some of the finest smartphones on the market, including the LG V10, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Apple iPhone 6S Plus and in the biggest Android smartphone comparison to date: Best of Android 2015.
That’s a lot to take in so we’ll summarise the Galaxy Note 5 for you; Samsung’s flagship brings the metal and glass build of the Galaxy S6 to the larger form factor, but drops the removable battery and microSD card expansion from previous devices. The sleeker build also brings with it an S-Pen – which should never be inserted backwards – and a plethora of premium features including a 5.7-inch QHD display, octa-core CPU, 4GB RAM and a 16MP camera.
Throughout the past six months, the handset has proven to be one of the best all-round smartphones on the market, and was victorious (against some very illustrious competition) in our Best of Android series. There’s plenty of reasons you’ll want to buy it so let’s get into the details and explain the different things to look out for when you’re looking at importing a Galaxy Note 5.
LTE bands explained
The biggest thing to check is the LTE bands included in the version of the Galaxy Note 5 you choose to buy. As we’ll cover below, there’s several variants you can buy online and it can be rather confusing picking between smartphones that, on the face of it, look absolutely identical.
The key area in which the models differ is support for LTE frequencies; across the world, different regions use different bands for 4G LTE and you need to ensure the model you buy supports the frequencies used in Europe.
What are those frequencies we hear you ask? While there are other frequencies used in some European countries, the three bands most commonly used are:
- Band 3: 1800MHz
- Band 7: 2600MHz
- Band 20: 800MHz
As long as your Galaxy Note 5 supports these bands, you should have no compatibility issues with LTE in your country.
Which version of the Galaxy Note 5?
Now you know the bands you need, it’s time to find out which variant of the Galaxy Note 5 you need to look for. Thanks to our friends over at XDA-Developers, there’s a handy excel file that breaks down each model number by the bands it supports, but we’ve outlined the main models and support for the three bands in the table below.
|Model Number||Source||Band 3 (1800MHz)||Band 7 (2600MHz)||Band 20 (800MHz)|
|SM-N9208ZDU||India Dual SIM||Yes||Yes||No|
|SM-N920P||Sprint USA||Not compatible with GSM networks|
|SM-N920R||US Cellular||Not compatible with GSM networks|
|SM-N920V||Verizon USA||Not compatible with GSM networks|
As you can see, the version you should be looking for is undoubtedly the N920C model, which contains full support for the three bands (and almost every other band in Europe).
Once you know which bands the networks in your country support, you’ll know exactly which model is right for you, but if you’d rather check it quickly and easily, the team over at WillMyPhoneWork make this as easy as a few clicks.
Where to buy from?
Now you’ve decided exactly which model is right for you and have checked it’s compatible with the networks in your country, it’s time to actually buy it but where do you go? There’s a few places you can check out, as we’ve detailed below.
This will, no doubt, be the place many people turn to when looking for the Galaxy Note 5; Amazon is the largest ecommerce store in the world and while the company itself does not officially offer the Galaxy Note 5, there are plenty of third party sellers willing to sell you one, including some that are even Fulfilled by Amazon itself.
When buying the Galaxy Note 5 on Amazon, it’s worth looking at the seller’s detailed information including location and also check whether your purchase comes with a return policy or any warranty. To find the Galaxy Note 5 on Europe, hit the button below.
eBay can also be a great source for grey market imports but has its own set of pitfalls. Like any purchase on eBay, be sure to check out the seller, included recent feedback, item locations and past sales history.
You’ll find a whole range of Galaxy Note 5 colours and versions available to buy, so also check whether the handset is locked to a particular network, and whether it is brand new or used. When buying a used handset, be sure to check it hasn’t been reported as stolen and always, always, always pay for your purchase with PayPal.
If you opt for a payment method that doesn’t involve PayPal or communicate with the seller outside of eBay, you won’t be covered if anything goes wrong or your order doesn’t turn up.
If you can’t find the right model at the right price on eBay or Amazon, you may wish to revert to using independent third party sellers located around the world. There are quite a lot to choose from and it’s difficult to recommend a service without actually using it.
That being said, a grey market website I have personally used is MyGSM, which allow you to import phones from the Middle East at a very affordable price. Beware that if you do go through MyGSM (or most other independent websites), they don’t include any potential taxes, so you may have additional charges if your package is stopped by your local customs department.
To import or not import, that is the question.
Now you’ve got all the information you need, it’s time to find out whether you’ve actually imported one. Let us know how you got on in the comments and if you have any other questions, be sure to ask them as well. You can continue the discussion on your new smartphone over in our Galaxy Note 5 forum and if you found this guide helpful, be sure to share it using the links below.