Samsung didn’t expect the region lock confusion, won’t give up on it

by: Bogdan PetrovanOctober 17, 2013

SAmsung GAlaxy note 3 sim lock america (1)

Samsung got itself in hot water over the way it handled, or rather, mishandled the regional lock “feature” on the Galaxy Note 3 (yes, Samsung actually calls it a feature).

For those in need of a refresher, Samsung decided that the best way to tell customers it’s region locking the Galaxy Note 3 was through stickers on the phone’s retail packaging. In other words, customers had to buy the device in order to find out they might not get to use it with their carrier of choice. Adding to the confusion, the stickers turned out to be inaccurate, or at least partially so. Samsung insists users can use their Note 3’s with SIMs from other regions, as long as they activate them first with a local SIM. Still, many users have complained that their devices got locked anyway.

Now Samsung Germany issued a semi-apologetic statement on the matter, saying it didn’t expect the confusion the region lock snafu created and that it’s been collecting and analyzing feedback from users. Samsung won’t give up on the region locking, but it will look for ways to “simplify and optimize the procedure”.

What does that mean? It’s hard to say for now, though one thing’s for sure – region locking is here to stay, and it may soon affect other Samsung flagships.

There are some solutions in place: the official route is to call Samsung support, but if you can’t wait for that, you can opt for the services of an unlocking website or use the unlocking app that noted developer Chainfire recently announced.

Head over to GigaOm to read Samsung’s full statement (in German).

  • Leonardo Rojas

    I see lots of people go jumping from one region to another constantly… I’ve never get out of my home town :/

    • MasterMuffin

      I thought I was the only one here, everyone’s making such a deal out of it and I’m just sitting in front my computer :|

      • paxmos

        No wonder you’re a muffin then!!

    • Cotomeo

      You never know when you’ll have to travel.

  • SamerKurdi

    This makes me so angry. The reason I switched to Android from iOS was because I was tired of Apple’s big-brother brand of control, and now Samsung is doing it? I can’t believe it, but what irks me the most is that it just seems so frickin’ NEEDLESS. I am now wondering if I might buy the Phablet version of the HTC One or a Sony Experia Z, even when I think what I really want is a Note 3.

    • MasterMuffin

      Oppo N1!

      Oh and *Xperia Z :P

      • AsakuraZero

        Xperia Z1 sir not just the Z, i will report back when i get my Z1 the other week

    • Siralf

      I absolutely agree, I have a Note 2 and liked samsung brand image. This thing that might seem irrelevant changed my opinion of this brand. It is not so much if is going ot bother me as long as the philosophy behind. I also fled from Apple’s dictatorial ways and I hate it when someone get powerful doing things right and then think he knows better. The result is similar in my case, currently looking for a smart tv and a tablet and could be Sony or LG or Google, but it won’t be Samsung. Not anymore.

      • paxmos

        @samerkurdi and @siralf….it is not the first time Samsung is doing a dumb thing…

    • On a Clear Day

      Much ado about nothing. Yes, the implementation of this could have been handled better, but the “philosophy” behind it was not to – as is the case of Apple – make sure all roads lead – via a manipulative, convoluted path – back to Apple to assure you never escape your cell and ever cease feeding Apple’s cash cow.

      My guess is that Samsung was finding that individuals or even criminal organizations were buying phones that were being sold at a certain, lower price in one market en masse and shipping them to another market where the price the legitimate retailers – due to government regulation or whatever – were charging was higher, and thus undermining the business of the legitimate dealers, who were also offering service that the bootleggers you can be sure were not and could not care less about.

      Perhaps before people go off about Samsung and ascribe Apple-like “evil empire” motives – where none were intended – a little actual thought might be a good idea before tarring Samsung with the same brush as big brother Apple.

      • SamerKurdi

        I would like to give Samsung a pass as much as you apparently do. But this benign feel good explanation may or may not be the actual reason, and much as you would like it to be the case (criminal organizations? really?), I frankly don’t care. I travel a lot and there are markets where I buy my electronics that are typically cheaper than others (the US and Dubai come to mind). I want to be able to buy my phone wherever I happen to be and use it wherever I end up.

        But even if we should accept your common sense explanation, we are left with the fact that Samsung botched the execution and they are paying a price. I am still looking for an alternative to the Note 3. If I am ascribing Apple like ‘evil empire’ motives I am doing so based on the information – or perhaps mis-information – that Samsung doesn’t care to clarify apparently except for fans in sites like this wishing against the evidence that Samsung is not being Apple-like, and pulling their own benign explanations out of a hat.

        • On a Clear Day

          Point taken and thank you for your well put response.

          However, given neither of us is privy to everything that appertains to this tempest in a teapot, we will both have to reserve final judgement I suppose as to what really is or was the reason why. SMS

          • SamerKurdi

            Well to be honest with you and after considering other phones I still am considering buying the Note 3, and probably will in the end ;) So this may in fact be much ado about nothing as you said

            I suppose if the worst happens I can simply root the phone and use that app mentioned above to unlock it.

          • On a Clear Day

            Or – and I realize this is an expense but still probably less than the alternative of buying the device at a higher price someplace else – buy a cheap sim card for the region you’ve purchased it in – boot that puppy up – connect to their network so you have been compliant with the phone’s programming – and then, thereafter, you will be able to take it whither thou wilt! (The English language is too rich and subtly nuanced not to have fun with.)

            I have seen the Note 3 and like it, but since I like to wear my phone in a leather case on my belt for easy access and don’t find it annoying being there – it is a little bit big.

            However, there is no doubt that I would get one if I were in the market for a unit that size – one of my friends has the Note 2 and loves it. Like the 3 it has a removable battery and micro SD card which are sine qua non factors for me.

            I am waiting for the S5 to come out and hoping that it will have a processor faster than fast, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of internal, a removable battery, micro-SD, possibly incorporate Kyocera’s Sonic Sound ceramic tech audio (which they said they are willing to license) as well as the various other delights – some useful, some not – that we have come to associate with Samsung doing its best to fulfill our each and every fantasy!

            Then, I will be able to stop reading about cell phones for a few years.

  • michael sanchez

    Bought an lg g2 not looking back. Good riddance samsung. Starting to look a lot like apple.

    • lol

      atleast it can still bluetooth with any other devices

      • michael sanchez

        Funny i havent come across any Bluetooth issues

  • Roberto Tomás

    you guys are missing the story so badly — the reason it is a feature is because activating the phone first in a different region can invalidate your contract for some carriers when you get back home.

    it isn’t like people thought at first, that it is a problem to activate secondary SIMs once you’ve already done the initial activation, that rumor has been thoroughly debunked by now..

    please wake up and stop sniffing apple’s ass, you’re making it hard to enjoy this site flooding it with misled articles like this.

    • Paco

      ahhh yes, then samsung is caring for the customers locking them into some specific regions.

      How’s the work at samsung?

      • Roberto Tomás

        They *don’t* lock anyone into any region. You just have to first activate it in your region. Geesh… like I said, that has been thoroughly debunked now — no other tech site I read still harps on this, which was basically just a misunderstanding that was sustained when some people actually had problems because they actually tried to activate their phones while on vacation.

        • Paco

          Yes, they lock and if you were reading XDA even after the activation the lock still on.


    • hahaha

      most of them who are down voting you are htc shills. The reason htc is going broke is not samsung’s fault but their own poor management

    • Gary

      A phone bought without contract should not require ANY hurdles to switch carriers.

  • Paco

    Too bad they will not give up on region lock, bootloaders locked and knox, because I already give up on samsung and I am looking forward nexus, LG or Xiaomi.

    greedy samsung is out of my life, never again.

    • AsakuraZero

      SOny and Asus too, they are supporting the Android initiative really well

  • Groud Frank

    I swore to pick a different OEM every time I get myself a new phone and since my first smartphone was a Samsung device this is of no concern to me. There are too many android OEMs aka alternatives to even care about this. I wonder how such a great device could come from such a sometimes crappy company.


    Joe public don’t give a tihs about this, most of them get these phones from their carriers. Most people can’t afford to spend £700 on a phone without contract

  • Tommy Kohkoh

    Got my note3 from Australia but had no region sticker on it.. activated in Australia and now using a thai sim in Thailand with no problem. So what countries does it affect?

  • Maez

    I am hoping that samsung wont patch this region lock to s4 varient, s3 and note2. This is one bad move samsung to say samsung complaining they have poor sale on s4 it will be coming now with note3 if they continue this region lock.

  • Corruptiondee

    This is a common theme. Samsung helped push Android forward showing that they release a flagship device that can easily go toe to toe with the iPhone when they released the Galaxy S. Ever since then it’s been two steps forward, two steps back. I’ve always been a huge fan and supporter, but their Apple-esque practices will eventually bite them in their ass.

    The beauty of Android is that you’re never limited one flagship device. There are a ton of manufacturers making great devices. With the whole region lock thing, it’s the principle. If you buy device at full cost, out of contract, it should never be locked. The fact that Samsung is still in denial is very telling.

    I really wanted the Note 3 like everyone else, but instead I gave LG a shot with the G2 and I haven’t looked back. An amazing device.

  • terpski

    Another solution: Don’t buy Samsung Mobile Phones.

  • vosg

    Bye instead of buy.
    My next one won’t be a Note 3.

  • sachin Great portal for samsung user to download top list of Android Application and Games

  • Viky

    So this is where there Samsung made a mistake huh. Was planning on getting a note 3. But screw it, I will get an Sony. or something next time.

    This is a good opportunity for other android handset makers I guess. Stupid decisions like these is what killed HTC.

  • ron

    worst move ever by Samsung !
    I bought a NEW SIM FREE NOTE 3 In SPAIN. I then used it first time with a normal EU card . Few days later I travel to China for business and SUPRISE ! Can’t Use my Chinese Sim in the Phone! Great move by Samsung. !
    I am a Samsung fan , all my products and phones are by.. Samsung I Always buy the Most expensive products they offer This is such a let down ! Now I need to run around in China to find a Solution to this problem ! “Great value for my money” ! Thanks Samsung! !

  • abdalfatih

    This is the English translation of Samsung which is unacceptable
    We assure you that the pleasant and smooth user experience for our customers with Samsung products is a top priority for us. Of course, we take customer feedback to heart.
    The fact that the regional SIM Lock function ensures this degree of uncertainty
    , we did not expect . Therefore, we collected and analyzed the many questions
    in the last days.
    The regional SIM lock feature on the latest Samsung products will remain in place. We are currently examining intensively However , how can
    we optimize and simplify the procedure for total customer satisfaction. To
    answer all the questions satisfactorily, but we still need some time.
    If users previously have problems with the deactivation of the regional SIM lock function, they can contact customer service . This supports like the activation process so that customers can use their device without restrictions

  • Terenc Meijer

    This is it! I am not going to buy Samsung cell phones anymore!