Samsung now region-locking phones; stops you using local SIM cards when you travel

Region-locking has long been the scourge of the tech industry for consumers. For those who don’t pirate content and who don’t steal devices – choosing instead to pay their hard-earned money to purchase what they want – it’s something of a kick in the teeth to be told that you can’t then use that device or watch that content that you’ve paid for, thanks to decisions made by manufacturers and rights holders that are largely designed to prevent you from saving a buck or two on your purchase.

More than a kick in the teeth, in fact, it has long been a middle finger from companies to the consumer that’s honest enough to pay for what he or she wants.

So it’s a particularly unwelcome development that Samsung has chosen to begin region-locking its smartphone range. The news, picked up by GigaOM, was first noted by British device retailer Clove, which posted details of “SIM limitations” on Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 3 on its blog.

Along with the image above, captured on the box of a Galaxy Note 3, Clove warned its customers:

If you travel internationally (outside Europe) and usually insert a local SIM card when in those countries, the Note 3 will NOT be able to use the local network. It will lose all mobile connectivity with the exception of emergency calls.”

What does that mean in practice? Well, if you buy a Galaxy Note 3 in the U.S. and travel to London, you won’t be able to insert a UK operator's SIM card to be able to use your device at reasonable local pricing. Instead, the handset will reject the SIM card, forcing you to either rely solely on WiFi or to use your ‘home’ SIM instead, along with the exorbitant international roaming rates that carriers delight in charging their customers.

GigaOM's David Meyer noted that Samsung Switzerland is advising customers on Facebook that they will be able to use international SIM cards in the Note 3, but Samsung’s PR reps explicitly confirmed to Meyer that they are indeed region-locking the device, and that this will prevent SIM cards from outside of a handset’s ‘home’ region from working in it. It's not just a European issue either; Samsung's PR people confirmed that the region-locking policy is global and not confined solely to Europe.

What do you think of Samsung’s new region-locking policy? Let us know your thoughts below!

Source: GigaOM / Clove | Image via Clove

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Hey chief, you may want to update this news post. As long as the phone is activated for the first time with the local SIM the region the phone was originally purchased, you can then go where you want and use whatever SIM (provided the phone wasn't carrier locked too).

Wow this is a SERIOUS "apple" move...gimping the product, so they can jack up prices in some countries ($5 says the price of the galaxy will rise in Australia =P).

I'm curious how they spin this as a "feature"...

hehehe .. nice move samshi*

why are all theses samshi* users angry in here ?

Go to ur local store and get ur brand new factory unlocked, fancy and fluffy plastic 9Z#008 iphone and u'll not have this kinda of trobules ... hehehe

u guys are pathetic !

Companies are testing how much digital rights management their customers are willing to tolerate (read: the limit of our patience -- how much does it take for us to say 'that's enough'). So it is up to us to make a fuzz. This is all part of market research.

There's many advantages to being on top. However, once you fall, people like to see you fall all the way. I hope you packed a parachute Samsung.

I think if we all complained to Samsung and not just here, they will not do this. It offers no advantage of Samsung to do this at all. It only benefits the carriers. For what ATT and Verizon charge for usage outside the USA, there is no way I would use their service.

As the article says, you could still use a International SIM. However, if I pay cash for an unlocked phone, that is WTF I want. I want it to be unlocked to be used any place I want...PERIOD.

Since I don't travel outside the USA very often, I don't have to worry. But if I did, believe me I would have an attorney signed letter sent to Samsung immediately saying, that if I buy an unlocked phone I expect it to be unlocked...that means no carrier locks, no country locks. Unlocked means unlocked period.

Because I would most certainly file a lawsuit against them, and if they say well its the carriers pushing them to do this, I'd sue the carriers too. I don't care how big they are.

In the USA, unlocked phones have no benefit because you can only use them with 2 carriers anyways thanks to the stupid government ran FCC, but if I pay cash for an unlock phone that is what I expect to get.
This is just like the carriers saying unlimited data but yet tried to slow user down. Which is why they got sued and they lost. Unlimited means unlimited just like unlocked means unlocked.

Spicoli said,
Plastic is superior in every way in a phone case application except not as shiny. I guess if that's your priority. I buy phones for function and not jewelry.

Would you mind explaining how it is superior?

Spicoli said,
Plastic is superior in every way in a phone case application except not as shiny. I guess if that's your priority. I buy phones for function and not jewelry.

Awesome. Me too.. LOL I'm just over Samsung.. I am really excited about the North American release of the Sony Xperia Z1.

Draconian Guppy said,

Would you mind explaining how it is superior?


PLastic doesn't crack or break when dropped. Scares are much easier to fix. In the cae of the iPhone, the silver is actually anodized coating which is scarred, shows the actually metal color as its ugly and cant be fixed unless you can reapply the coating which unless you manufacturer stuff, you can't.

With plastic even tho it can be damage, it is more resilient. Because the plastic is the same color all the way through, if I do scare or scratch it, it is much easier to fix. In fcat you don't have fix it at all as you wont see it unless of close. But all you need is clear fingernail polish and a buffing tool if you brush the polish on to thick and youre done.

Also since Apple users a unibody case, reparability is always lower, Sausng uses a modular design on the Galaxy phones which makes repair easier. Because the plastic pieces are thinner, vs unibody like Lumia and iPhone 5C, people says it feels cheaper. To each its own. At least I don't have to pay APple $100 for something I may never use and I can repair my own phone for pennies on the dollar.

On my GN2 that silver RIM is actually silver coated plastic. I scratched and dented that piece when I dropped it. If it was an iPhone it would have cost me $50 to replace the device and I would have to spend 4hours putting all my stuff back, for a repair that on my Galaxy required removing 9 screws and the replacement piece was $15.00 on eBay.

Plastic, is more resilient; harder to damage, almost impossible to break, cheaper to replace/fix. Also Poly-Carbonate is better than aluminum because it stands up to heat. Well at least on my Galaxy. Unlike the older iPhones which turned brown from chips burning the plastic. Never has happened on my Galaxy phone and it has 4 cores and has gotten very very hot when playing games Like NFS Most Wanted.

Just remember, all cars and light trucks have plastic bumpers, even luxury brands because it is cheaper to fix for a common part that is designed to fail as it taks the brunt of a crash. Apple using metal or even HTC doesn't make it better. Sure it looks better, but for the cost its just not. And I don't mean just the initial cost.

Since my phone is already plastic, that means I don't have to spend hundreds on a stupid ugly case to protect it.

Draconian Guppy said,
Author:

Update: Samsung's official Swiss Facebook account has stepped in with some information regarding the locking issue. According to the official source, a European SIM-locked Galaxy Note 3 could be used outside of Europe (thus become unlocked) as long as you activate it with a European SIM card first. Nothing to see here then - move along people.


Update the article accordingly !

http://www.gsmarena.com/samsun..._to_continent-news-6866.php


Still a ridiculous and preposterous requirement by Samsung

well played by the carriers. since apple is a greedy control freak, find a manufacturer (Samsung) who is easy, and market their phones so they can beat apple, then have your way with them.

if people think this is samsungs doing, you are wrong. but Samsung has to do this because they are being controlled by the carriers, and are afraid to lose out on sales should they choose not to play ball.

I'd almost imagine US carriers had something to do with this. In EU its normal to buy unlocked phones but the us carriers lose out on contracts when we buy phones and just stick em on prepaid or no contract direct options.

SHoTTa35 said,
I'd almost imagine US carriers had something to do with this. In EU its normal to buy unlocked phones but the us carriers lose out on contracts when we buy phones and just stick em on prepaid or no contract direct options.

It would more likely be the EU because lose out on tax revenue when people bring hardware from the outside. It's not like you're going to declare your phone in customs.

Spicoli said,

It would more likely be the EU because lose out on tax revenue when people bring hardware from the outside. It's not like you're going to declare your phone in customs.


Very unlikely: in many EU Countries is even illegal to sell locked phones.

Well I guess my next phone won't be a Samsung after a stupid move like this.

EDIT: I should mention that I don't travel internationally. This is just a universally stupid move on their part.

Edited by shinji257, Sep 27 2013, 12:44pm :

SIM locking the phones is done by the carriers and not the manufacturers. The manufacturer really doesn't care if you take your phone somewhere else. I believe it should be illegal but a lot of countries will have to agree.

There is a (very small) chance they've done this after pressure to try and help limit issues with stolen phones, after all so many turn up in other countries VERY quickly.

But, the 'cure' is worse than the disease in this case, this really screws over travelers, and is most certainly unwelcome.

If it ends up needing a small hardware mod, I have no doubt one would be found, and that would be really bad for customers who wouldn't want to alter their phone, but would be prolific among phone thieves with no qualms.
If it just needs a custom rom then... why bother?

As much as I like Samsung devices, (with having a Samsung TV, a Galaxy Ace 2 smartphone, and previously
an E2121B "dumbphone", this is certainly a d*ck move. It's the sort of stunt I would expect Apple to pull.

Unless some kind of easy hack comes along, I'll think twice before buying another Samsung smartphone.

F* SAMSUNG. Who the hell do they think they are? I am an expat and I move all around the globe, and I will certainly NOT be buying one mobile per region just because they want to milk cash out of their customers.

I hope people will bash the hell out of Samsung the same way people bashed XBOX One's DRM and Windows 8.

Wow this is such a stupid move.

So when I travel to the US, I can grab an AT&T SIM and pay ~$20 for usage. Or I can use my international roaming, and pay about £500. I wonder whether samsung are being backhanded by some carriers to stop this.

They said that South Koreans didn't smoke crack but this clearly shows somebody in Seoul was high as a kite when they decided this was a good idea....

Climbdown in 3....2.....1.....

Oh so this is not your typical SIM lock but an additional unexplained geographical region lock. Well thankfully there are other Android device manufacturers

i had a samsung galaxy pocket, it was acceptable

now i have huawei ascend p1, ever since i had a samsung galaxy pocket i hated samsung for their unified design - ugly silver stripe, physical home button and two touch buttons next to it, ugly curved edges, modified rom with ugly icons and useless apps that i will never use

i like asian things the best but samsung just make stupid decisions and design ugly looking phones that look like oversized tamagochi

So you you've sever heard of icon themes, or system app uninstaller?

Fair enough, no amount of software will change the physical design - but complaining about stuff you can easily change is just lame.

why would i want to bloat a low-end phone with useless apps that make it look different and still useless UI-wise? i had my phone rooted back then and i uninstalled all the apps i didnt want or need, the point is that a sapient like you should contribute to humanity anywhere but on the internet

I think there's a proofread error on this article. Why wouldn't you be able to use an AT&T sim card on an US Note while in London?

They simply want to limit the trade of cheap hardware from other countries and get more profit by forcing people into unlocking their phone .. again.. after a purchase

I went off Samsung mobiles after the S3 released. Still, custom ROM will fix that issue, but it's not an issue that should need fixing. Samsung = farked

The great thing is, there's plenty of better mobile makers out there, HTC, Oppo, Sony, Nokia and Apple to name a few of the good ones. Even Huawei are producing some decent mid-high end models these days.

Idiotic move by Samsung.

If I purchase a phone by making full payment, I expect it to be used anywhere in the world as long as the phone hardware supports the technology deployed on that network.

This is some new form of DRM restriction which is purely software based.

No Samsung phone for me.

Like this if you agree. We want Samsung to take notice.

sanke1 said,
Idiotic move by Samsung.

If I purchase a phone by making full payment, I expect it to be used anywhere in the world as long as the phone hardware supports the technology deployed on that network.

This is some new form of DRM restriction which is purely software based.

No Samsung phone for me.

Like this if you agree. We want Samsung to take notice.


This is just an idiotic move (of Samsung's). Can't they let us choose what we are gonna do with our phones?

It is not software based.

The phone has to be unlocked by a SIM card from the same region, after this the phone can be used in any region with any SIM card.

Shadowzz said,
It is not software based.

The phone has to be unlocked by a SIM card from the same region, after this the phone can be used in any region with any SIM card.


Why cause that inconvenience in first place?

I'm from Europe, but next year I go to work in Saudi Arabia, does that mean I have to buy a new phone there? Oh come on... Custom ROM it is then...

Nashy said,
WTF? So they've just ruled out International travellers and business people.

******** Apple like move.

...but Apple doesn't do anything like this. My new iPhone 5S can be used in any country with any SIM card.

Apple has made it easy to purchase world-compatible devices or unlock existing devices. In fact, it was Tim Cook personally calling AT&T that got that carrier to change their stance on unlocking devices just to make it easier to use an iPhone internationally.

But don't let that get in the way of your anti-Apple fanboyism.

You completely missed my point with your clear love for Apple, and the slight hint that they maybe being bagged out.

I'm saying, this is the sort of stunt we would expect from Apple, not Samsung.

Spelling out meanings of posts to APple fanboys. Fantastic. PS. I'm an Apple product owner. Go away.

nail in the coffin? drama queen....its a bit of a douche move from them...but i understand it why buy english when I can save money buying american? its to stop them losing money ...but at the same time if I go from country to country I dont want 2 phones or to sell up and re buy once i move over