note 3 americas region lock

Earlier today, we reported that the “unlocked” version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 isn’t actually that free of restrictions.

Specifically, the device is apparently region locked, which, according to the warning stickers on the retail packaging, means the Note 3 will only work with SIMs from carriers in the region it was bought from. So far, we’ve seen stickers for devices sold in the US and Europe, but it’s possible that the region locking applies to Galaxy Note 3 units sold in other parts of the world.

Unsurprisingly, the news caused quite a stir among readers, and it’s not hard to understand why – limiting a device’s functionality based on location can be inconvenient for travelers, but also for those who acquire phones from abroad.

note 3 europe region lock asked Samsung for comment on the matter. Here are the essential points from Samsung’s official statement (original in German):

  • Samsung does lock some devices based on the region where they were purchased from. These devices are, besides the Note 3: Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S4, and Galaxy S4 Mini.
  • The region lock only affects units manufactured after the end of July 2013, that ship with the warning sticker on the box. Devices that have already been delivered, like those sitting in warehouses or in stores are not region locked.
  • If a user takes a new phone that hasn’t been yet activated to a country outside the home region, the user can unlock the phone at a local Samsung service partner for free.

If we understand the situation correctly, in order to be able to use a phone outside the home region, users will have to register it first with a carrier from the home region. Samsung Switzerland seems to confirm this on their Facebook page.

For instance, if you purchase a Note 3 in the UK and activate it there first, you’ll be able to use it with US SIM cards without problems. However, if you buy a phone from the UK, travel to the US, and activate it there for the first time, you will have to take it to a Samsung service center to unlock it.

Related: Galaxy Note 3 in India – All you need to know.

It’s not clear for now what unlocking implies or what happens if you travel to multiple regions. Can you unlock the phone multiple times or just once?

From the sound of it, the region lock is software-based, which means intrepid users might find a way around it.

Samsung’s reasons for locking its entire flagship lineup are unclear for now. We can speculate that it might have something to do with curbing the activity of the so-called “grey market” importers, which are companies that buy devices from one region and sell them to another, profiting from the differences that exist between retail prices around the world. Back in February, we heard an unconfirmed rumor that Samsung might be attempting to do this.

We are waiting for a statement from Samsung US and we’ll update the post with the official info as soon as we get it.

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
  • Deborah9

    Thanks for this information. I will wait for your update before making my purchase of the Note 3.

  • RaptorOO7

    It doesn’t surprise me one bit, they are trying to control the grey market which they hate but they also know exists when they dump excess inventory on hand. There is nothing wrong with buying a phone from outside your market if you are willing to pay for it.

    • John

      “they are trying to control the grey market”
      How? People above say that Asian versions of N3 are not locked. But Asia is the main source of grey market. Now people from Europe and USA will try to buy Asian region-unlocked versions of the phone. Samsung is just encouraging grey market with such a measure.

  • Bone

    It’s most than likely a warranty thing.

    I’d imagine many brought devices not intended for a certain country to the certain country’s Samsung Warranty which wasn’t prepared to replace overseas internals.

    How does this happen? If you buy say US-version Galaxy S3 at an online store registered in Belgium, per EU rules Samsung must provide 2 years of warranty. Problem is, Samsung Belgium expects European type of Galaxy S3 and it’s probably very expensive to ship components from another continent.

  • hoggleboggle

    Sounds like both a warranty issue and a licensing issue. I suspect they have software that is licensed to different regions and their agreement forces them to ensure they are activated in that region. All in all this was a bit of a storm in a teacup seeing as it is pretty easy to get it unlocked.

    • Paul M

      I think it is a combination of theft and grey imports. If a large bunch of phones were stolen on their way from factory to retailers, they can’t be “disappeared” to another country to avoid IMEI blocking.

  • lil bit

    You misunderstand, it says “If a user takes a new phone that hasn’t been yet activated to a country
    outside the home region, the user can unlock the phone at a local
    Samsung service partner for free.”

    So a phone biught in UK that was never ever used in UK CAN be used in USA IF you go to SAmsung service to have the region changed for free, and then you can use a US sim.

    If however you already used it in UK it is locked to Europe forever.

    • Iliyan Conev

      OK you go on holiday with the uk phone and the first thing in your mind is to make a phone call not to look for samsung repair center

      • meliorist


        • Iliyan Conev

          Maybe, but the sticker speaks very clearly


          • meliorist

            Yes, that’s what the sticker says, but it is simplistic. The statement from Samsung adds more information.

          • meliorist

            I think this feature has been introduced in order to prevent people from buying a phone in one country in order to sell it in a different country. It’s not meant to prevent people from travelling with their phone.
            Incidentally, are you seeing your posts appear in duplicate?

    • According to Lars from AllAboutSamsung, who talked to Samsung directly, if you activate it in Europe, you can use it anywhere else. I think he updated the post to reflect that.

      • lil bit

        The translated german text states clearly “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.”

        Read, ROAMING SERVICE. I dont see how it can be any doubt here, the devices are truly locked.

        Sorry but i am right and you are wrong. You are right that you can use it anywhere after activation but only with a Euro ROAMING SIM. Big difference.

      • Lil bit

        Ok someone already tested, he activated his Euro Note 3 with a UK SIM and then it accepted his SIM from United Arab Emirates.

        I was wrong it seems, I guess I should be happy for that.

    • Roberto Tomás

      that sounded far more likely, but apparently they have it correct. If you follow the source link to the Switzerland confirmation, and translate that page, you will see a verified Samsung representative answer that the region lock only applies when first operating the phone with a SIM. Afterwards it works normally.

      • lil bit

        Maybe, but the sticker speaks very clearly


        Thats what it says, no doubt what so ever, and thats what i stick with until something else has been proved. The sticker doesnt have the word INITIAL in it.

      • lil bit

        Afterwards it works normally all over the world IF YOU USE A EURO ROAMING SIM.

        • Roberto Tomás

          from the Samsung official: «Diese Behauptung ist nicht korrekt. Beim Kauf des GALAXY Note 3 muss man mit einer Schweizer SIM-Karte die Erstaktivierung vornehmen. Danach können auch SIM-Karten von weiteren Betreibern aus Europa und ausserhalb von Europa benutzt werden. » (emphasis mine.)

          That last says: “Then can also [be used the] SIM cards of other operators from Europe and [from other operators] outside of Europe.

          this describes how the region lock works — so being locked in a region means you must first activate it in that region, then you can use anywhere with a SIM from any other region.

    • paxmos

      So in reality, this phone is not “unlocked” but sold as such. I want to be able to use my phone with every and any GSM carrier in the world and that is the definition of “unlocked”……screw you Sammy

  • Tyler

    As someone who travels internationally and maintains SIM cards from different areas i’m glad I canceled my Note 3 pre-order.

    • Relaxasaurus

      Did you read the article? It sounds like it’s ok to use SIM cards from different regions as long as you first ACTIVATE the phone where you bought it.

      Someone please correct me if I’m wrong…

      • Blazej Dolista

        I believe you can use SIM only from the area the phone was bought in and firstly activated. Only exception is when you bought the phone abroad, you can request “area change” from samsung to accept your SIM.

        At least the stickers says that…

        • Tyler

          Then I stand corrected; thanks for the clarification.

          • padlock1

            count me out nonetheless. this practise is not cool….had an HP printer that region coded its cartridges…lived in 3 different countries since purchase of the printer and all the hassle that now comes with the territory…NEVER AGAIN A REGION CODED DEVICE! Get your pricing right Samsung…out of the box!

          • meliorist

            You were correct the first time. The “correction” you received is wrong.

        • meliorist

          No, Samsung have clarified this.
          If you buy a phone in Europe, you have to put a European SIM in it first, and activate it.
          After you have activated it, you can put in a SIM from another region, but only after you have initially activated it with a European SIM.

          • Jacob

            “you can put in a SIM from another region”
            Who said that?

          • jer

            No . That is not true. I tried it personally. Inserted a local sim first then another sim from another region and it didnt work. My phone still asked for an unlock code.. so how is that?

    • Guest

      Thanks for NOT reading the article. smh

      If a user takes a new phone that hasn’t been yet activated to a country outside the home region, the user can unlock the phone at a local Samsung service partner for free.

      • Cemran Kırkpınar

        I have evidence that my local Samsung Service does NOT unlock / cant unlock my device that i bought from USA. I dont care if its free or not unless its not done..

      • Cemran Kırkpınar

        And also another point; does this activation process can ocur after you brought to phone overseas? I mean if you forgot to activate the phone in US, can you activate the phone via roaming? Confusing..

  • frankie

    wonder why its only affecting them though? asian region doesnt seem to be affected…

    • The unit was out only since yesterday. Expect more feedback from other regional releases soon.

      • frankie

        people from the middle east and singapore and philippines and india had theirs and no mentions of lock

        • toboev

          Some countries actually outlaw this type of interference with the free market. I believe Australia does, probably Singapore also. So region-lock would be illegal there.

  • Icarus

    This i nuts – they’re going to lose a whole load of business over this.

    • panjgoori

      yes. and sony will take benefit from this.

      • Immolate

        LG more like. Sony isn’t ready for prime-time yet.

  • Jacob

    I learned a good lesson today. Never pre-order. They might give you a rock instead of a phone! You will know it when people wrote a hands on review of it.

    • mrjayviper

      you can preorder. just not samsung phones!

    • derp

      I actually did preorder then canceled because it seemed in store pick up would be faster. I’m glad I did, but I wish I waited till this sh~t storm came out to push the point home that its unacceptable and anti consumer.

  • EnX$$

    big fail for samsung

    • simpleas

      It’s the EU law.. not samsung smh…

      • Dimitar Gospodinov

        no it’s not

  • jamesdbailey

    OK, this is a new twist. I just bought an unlocked iPhone 5s and it is less locked down than a Samsung G4? Wow! Stunning turnaround by Samsung.

    I have to believe they are getting killed by the gray market if they are willing to do this to all of their flagship smartphones. The backlash is going to be brutal.

    I don’t think this is going to end well.

    • toboev

      Killed by the gray market? You have to remember the gray market is created by Samsung in the first place. Samsung creates the regional pricing disparities on which the gray market depends. Samsung holds the gray market by the balls and could get rid of it at a stroke, if they wanted to.

  • Wozn2

    Go Nexus 5!

  • mrjayviper

    Apple iPhones looking much better than Samsung flagship phones right now

  • paxmos

    LOL, way to go Samsung…The ultimate stupidity. I almost ordered an S4 mini, glad that I did not.

  • Android Developer

    I wonder if it affects all users, or those with stock samsung ROMS (or based on them).

    what is the activation process anyway? is it the part when you create a samsung account associated with the device?

    I also wonder if it really doesn’t allow to use the new SIM card, or a different restriction.

  • So Samsung is making the good suffer for the bad? Talk about awful customer service.

    • toboev

      Who exactly are “the bad” in this scenario? Certainly not the so called “grey” importers, who are the only brake on otherwise unrestrained pricing in some milked markets.

      • Bottom line is: I don’t agree with Samsung. Huge overreaction that only penalizes legitimate users.

        • toboev

          I don’t disagree with you. Just curious as to who you mean by “the bad”, or even by implication here the “illegitimate” users. Unless people are stealing Samsung product from the factory or something, surely all users are legitimate. Maybe that is what you mean by “only penalizes legitimate [read:all] users”?

  • Blowntoaster

    what a bunch of ID10T’s commenting here. didn’t you read the article properly. if you buy a device in a specific region, you just have to register it in that region and it will work anywhere else.
    Samsung is just trying to protect the consumer and it’s brand by ensuring stock isn’t bought for cheap in one place, and then sold of with some insane markup somewhere else. This also kind of ensures that when you buy a device from a retailer, that the device will actually work properly on your network.

    • oua812?

      Thanks for leaving your elevated position to come down and talk with all us “id1ots” here. We would be lost without your exhaustive insights. Because of your hightened android expertise, I am surprised the AA guys don’t give you carte blanch guest editorship over this site. Maybe you should suggest that to them?

      • John Mortimer

        Sorry but there are way to many posts on this page saying its not going to work when it will

      • Blowntoaster

        Elevated position, that’s a new way of saying I’m tall, which I am, but anyways, enough of me…
        oua812?, well if the shoe fits… ( ID10T…)

        Sure wouldn’t mind being an administrator on AA. keep you whiners out of the comments sections…

        Thanks Johnny for that comment… most of the sites have reported Samsung saying it that it will work if you follow the right steps and register your device correctly…
        yet you see people blindly b*tching and moaning about it…won’t buy this and screw that and Sammy sucks and blah blah blah…

        sorry for calling some people a bunch of idiots, but if you don’t read the damn article, or don’t understand what they are saying then you must be one. how difficult can it be.

    • bubblesmoney

      You ill informed Douche bag.

      Go have a look at various posts on the massive thread about this issue on xda developers forums.

      or let me make it easier for trolls like you, see my comments with evidence posted on the trustedreviews article about this

      • Blowntoaster

        the only ill informed douche bag here is you…

        go pull your Iphone out of you butthole and go take a dump, you wound up IFag…

        this whole thing has been cleared up already…so Pi$$ off

        • bubblesmoney

          hit a sore spot did I :)) by the way i have a Note and a S4 and several android devices and dont have any iDevices.

          Go under your bridge. Cheers and thanks for making me chuckle with your reply :))

          • Blowntoaster

            apologies for being rude.. I usually don;t insult people, but clearly you (judging by your other comments), and half the people complaining here don’t really have a clue what you are/were doing.
            so many people have no issues with the Note 3, in the same regions and carriers. People that acually read the stickers and press releases.

            …yet you do…what does that tell you…

          • bubblesmoney

            Apologies for the late reply and my earlier rude posts.

            region locking can be broken now with codes from third party websites or carriers by making a payment, see posts on xda thread about locking. Or you can root and use unlocking app by chainfire but rooting blows the efuse and voids warranty. Since it can be unlocked via codes I have now bought a note 3 as like the features (but still hate the region locking business) and have now unlocked it and using it with other sims presently. Bought contract phone with 1y contract and even then total cost including unlocking and 1y contract charges and phone cost was still cheaper than sim free phone from any website Have a nice day.

  • hoggleboggle

    Calm down! talk about making mountains out of molehills. If you are buying this phone to use in the same region as you purchased it in this will have absolutely no effect on you as it is completely unlocked after first registration. End of storey. Your inconvenience is Nill. For the other 0.0001% that buy outside their native region you will have the slight inconvenience of having to get it unlocked for free. Hardly the end of the world or a reason to get all flustered and run around having anti Samsung demos and galaxy note burning events.

    • .

      Feeling elite? Like telling other people what emotions they can and can’t feel? Who died and made you the final authority?

  • x425m

    Samsung being not fair to a lot of it’s other regions lately. Such as the not fully unlock phones for Europe markets which is making a lot of potential buyers unhappy.

    They also being a dick for releasing just 16GB models NOTE 3 for just HONG KONG market is also pissing a lot of people there as well.

    Hong Kong is a super super trendy market for super high end phone, and by giving the Hong Kong region just 16GB models of the NOTE 3 is really no respect for the people there.

    The Samsung rep. over there says will have no plans releasing a 32GB model for HONG KONG, MACAU, and CHINA as these region will only have 16GB models only.

    I think it’s completely bull for being such arrogant .

    They seems to have no love for these regions.

    • There is logic on this. Chinese have relatively smaller eyes, hence, they cannot work will in small screen and therefore they are expected not to use the phone much for web and as a PC replacement. Check on tablets designed for Chinese regions – maybe it is provided with higher storage capacity.

  • Jason Bailey

    If I buy a phone outright and unlocked, I expect it to be unlocked for all regions!!!!

  • Suresh CA Subramaniam

    So I can’t do what I have always done – travel to USA and Asia and buy a local SIM for cheap data? MASSIVE GIGANTIC EPIC TOTAL FAIL.

    Any other Android phone, please take my money. My previous two phones have been Samsungs but if S thinks they can screw over their customers like this they’re out of their minds. Way to alienate your existing customers. Seems the industry learned absolutely nothing of Nokia’s hubris and subsequent downfall and destruction.

    • John Mortimer

      No you wrong, It does, you just 1at need to use it in the EU 1st you can then use it in the USA , it just stops someone from importing the phone to the USA without 1st taken it to the Samsung for a unlock and they then find out who is exporting the phones. I.e. it will work if you go on holiday with some other sim

      • chandra shekhar

        But why consumer has to suffer if samsung wants to block importing. I have also returned my new bought Galaxy S4 due to this negative policy. If phone is called unlocked and i am paying hefty money it should be unlocked in true sense

      • jer

        Thats not working dude.. Tried to activate my phone as what you are telling but why my phone still asks for an unlock code when i put another sim from other region??

  • lickity

    Never bought a Samsung, and now I never will. I want a world phone that works anywhere with local Sim cards without inconveniences of having to activate it first in one country or go to Samsung and get it unlocked.

    • John Mortimer

      It does, you just 1at need to use it in the EU 1st you can then use it in the USA , it just stops someone from importing the phone to the USA without 1st taken it to the Samsung for a unlock and they then find out who is exporting the phones. I.e. it will work if you go on holiday with some other sim

  • x425m

    This partial regional lock phone is worst than Carrier locked phones, For carrier locked phones, after your contract is over, they can unlock it for you. But for a regional lock phone where do you get your phone unlock? From who? Why Samsung is pulling this kind of stunt for EUROPE buyers?

    • frankie

      first you are complaining about people in china/hk/macau, now europe… just curious but where are you located currently?

      • x425m

        I hop around asia, europe, and usa for business purpose. So can the apps be fully transfer to SD or just partial? I am piss because they are charging 16GB model at the price of 32GB models which sucks. Mind as well make a 4GB model and charge it at the full retail price of 32GB standard.

        • frankie

          the apps2sd are already stock if i based it on the youtube reviews. so you are from china/hk/macau? because you stated that you are pissed they are charging the same amount for 32gb? did you check what samsung charged for 32gb and 16gb for the note2?

          • x425m

            They charge $800 USD for 16GB model. and the most important part, no 32GB option as stock 16GB only have 9GB left of free storage. Kinda sucks for a high end phone like this.

  • GOAT

    Quit your complaining. They offered an explanation. If some of you are incapable of understanding what they said, you’re probably better off buying an iPhone. Apple builds those for simple minded folks. The Galaxy Note 3 is a sophisticated device for grownups who aren’t easily attracted by silly colors and a finger print scanner.

    • Bigballs

      So gay

  • frankie

    ive heard that everything about it just improves so much from the note 2 and the s4, and they said the audio output from headphones is the best i hope i wouldnt get disappointed lol. people at xda seem to really like them. but anyway guys please read this regarding the regional block issue
    hope that solves some worries. im just wondering why its not locked at all in asia?

    • x425m

      It’s not locked in Asia, but Hong Kong, Macau and China will only get a special EDITION of the GALAXY NOTE 3, which is 16GB version. And will not have any plans to get 32GB or higher, as they think those regional people are retarted and never need more storage capacity. Samsung is really pissing a lof of different regions of people.

      This is really bull shit, 16GB version of note 3. And everybody else is getting minimum 32GB version.

      What’s the use getting a super fast phone with just 16GB of internal storage, and the microsd card can not load apps.

      Kinda like buying a FERRARI with only 1 GALLON of gas tank storage available, So what if your car is super fast, which you ran out of gas in a few REV.

      Great Job SAMSUNG!

      • frankie

        you can transfer apps to the sd its built in

  • Guest

    If a user takes a new phone that hasn’t been yet activated to a country outside the home region, the user can unlock the phone at a local Samsung service partner for free.

    • Bigballs

      Or even better buy a device that isn’t region locked, I personally wouldn’t touch any device that had this, a really stupid idea of Samsung’s in this day and age

  • bklm1234

    it matters only on the INITIALIZATION i.e. put the correct regional SIM during initialization, you are free to switch later

  • It does not matter what lock is on it. Use GalaxyUnlocker software to unlock it and all will be good:

    • Sounds like you are introducing some kind of virus in here.

  • bubblesmoney

    see evidence that the unlock procedure does not work as claimed by samsung and published here

    if you cant be bothered reading that massive thread then let me make it easier for you, read by comments with links to proof that samsung is lying (including my twitter reply from samsung and numerous posted from xda users)

  • bubblesmoney

    have posted comments and links and extracts which shows samsung is taking the piss see my comments on

    samsungmobileuk twitter reply confirming other sims wont work

  • Ellen

    I bought my Samsung Galaxy S4 in the USA in May 2013, so it should be pre-regional locking. In preparation for a trip to the UK, I requested an unlock code from my provider, T-Mobile, and received it promptly with detailed instructions for unlocking. However, it requires inserting a non-TMobile mini-SIM, which I did not have avialable. I brought the phone to the UK and was able to complete the unlocking process her in the UK. I then proceeded to purchase a UK SIM from EEE/TMobile in the UK and I am successfully using it. So far so good.

    The problem that I’m having now is that I want to use a mobile banking app for my bank acct in Jersey. This is normally ok for UK mobile phones located in the UK. However, neither my phone nor my laptop will even find the app in Google Play! The bank sent me a link for the app, but when I go to it, it will not show that I have an eligible device for this app.

    I belive that this is a regional locking issue. Or can anyone help me identify the issue and overcome it?

    Thanks for any help.
    ~ Ellen

  • Zaphod_42

    I received this reply from the site where I purchased my S4 in the UK. I did not break the seal on the box as I had heard about the region lock issues, and after the reply I have got I will be sending the S4 back to them for a refund and will not be purchasing an S4:

    “Thank you for your email. Your device will work in New Zealand. However, it would be locked to the region where you first put the SIM card into it. For example, if you place a UK SIM card into the device it would be locked to Europe. You would still be able to use the phone in New Zealand but only with a European SIM card. The same thing would apply if you placed a New Zealand SIM into it for the first time. PLEASE NOTE: If the box your phone came in does not have a long white sticker running down the side of it with blue underlined text at the top then it won’t be affected by the region locking. If you would like to return your phone to us then you can do so. Kind regards.”

  • amylee

    OK!samsung is popular with so many
    people in the world,the note 3 with s pen ,someone siad when you write your
    life don’t let other one touch it. how about this phone ,i saw it yesterday,they
    called it alternative note 3.