Samsung region-lock may be extended to older devices with KitKat update

Last week we reported on the unpopular move made by Samsung to region-lock the Galaxy Note 3, and since then Samsung have attempted to clarify the move with even more confusing statements to the press and customers on the issue.

One Samsung official said that if the Note was activated "the right way" in the region it was purchased, then sim cards from other regions could be used in the device; which just leaves us wondering what purpose a region lock serves at all. However in practice this doesn't seem to be the case; users on XDA have been complaining that even though the European model was activated correctly, the Note 3 would not accept cards from other regions such as Africa or Asia, which has resulted in anger from customers and some scathing reviews on Amazon UK.

Another rep also told a customer over the phone that the European Galaxy Note 3 handsets are only meant to work in that region, and once Android 4.4 KitKat arrives the regional lock will be extended to some older Galaxy devices that include the Note 2 and Galaxy S3, even if they are over a year old. However, if the varying statements made by Samsung are anything to go by, things could change by the time Android 4.4 comes around - one would at least hope.

Galaxy S4 units sold in Europe and Latin America have also been shipping with the same sticker that warns that the device can only be used with sim cards in that region.

Samsung has defended the move by stating that the practice will help stop the illegal import of their devices in certain countries, but if their earlier claim is true in that people can still activate in the region it was purchased, and then be able to use a sim card in another region, this doesn't seem to align with their claims that they need this to stop the illegal imports.

All this serves to do is anger customers, create a situation where Samsung owners are forced to accept the higher roaming charges, and possibly even deter those customers from buying another Samsung handset in the future.

Backpedaling on older devices is also something that won't go down well with owners; is Samsung really that worried about illegal imports of the older Galaxy S3, or is something else at play here?

Source: Phones Review | Image: Clove

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When I bought my Note1 2 years ago from Amazon Germany, I did so not for the price...it was pretty much on par with paying full retail in the States. I bought it because it was NOT locked to a U.S. carrier had everything in the box it was suppose to have. Also, an instruction sheet from the vendor in English, showed how to turn it on and get it from German to English, no bloatware/crippleware. Took about 30 seconds to root it and it's been a great device for 2 years, but, it seems like every time you turn around, the manufacturers are bending over backwards, at the request of the carriers to screw us.

I got my Galaxy Nexus from Amazon Germany too, however that was simply because it was £100 cheaper than Amazon UK at the time. It even got dispatched from somewhere in the UK too!

I'm surprised you got Amazon.de to ship a phone to America, Amazon.com refuses to ship electronics / games to the UK, I just presumed the German site did so as the UK is part of the EU.

And to think I was looking forward to get a Samsung Galaxy phone. Sigh... Need to look for another manufacturer now

This is going to force people to either pay higher roaming charges (win for carriers) or buy unlocked phones (win for samsung). It sucks for consumers but I can see the business sense it makes.

stevan said,
This is going to force people to either pay higher roaming charges (win for carriers) or buy unlocked phones (win for samsung). It sucks for consumers but I can see the business sense it makes.

Perhaps it makes sense for a company that has gophers running their market department. When will all these market interns learn once and for all, that in the age of cloud and social network, peer marketing is a b**ch?

.Neo said,
At least this is a feature Samsung didn't copy from Apple.

Good point... Instead they copied it from Hollywood and the MPAA, which makes this copy even worse :\

My guess is with American carriers. They hate people on Pay as you Go (purchasing phones from elsewhere) as they make little to no money compared to a high profit margin contracts.

Spicoli said,
No, it's clearly an EU thing. If anything people in the EU would be buying the US products because of the lower taxes.

That goes right out of the window with rediculous import fees and taxes applied upon it arriving in the UK. I bought a T-shirt from Valve Store for $20. It cost $15 to ship it to the UK where I paid £25 import fees.

Spicoli said,
No, it's clearly an EU thing. If anything people in the EU would be buying the US products because of the lower taxes.

And one year warranty instead of two, and carriers involvement? Not really...

It's not confusing at all. The initial sale has to be in the target market so that government can get it's tax cut. Otherwise you can people import them illegal to avoid the taxes. This seems more like an Apple viral marketing campaign than a real issue.

Spicoli said,
It's not confusing at all. The initial sale has to be in the target market so that government can get it's tax cut. Otherwise you can people import them illegal to avoid the taxes. This seems more like an Apple viral marketing campaign than a real issue.

Not true: if you buy a device abroad you pay VAT or IVA or whatever sales tax are called in the Country where it is bought.

This doesn't feel like a move Samsung would make on their own. Just a hunch but I'm guessing they are being pressured by some outside regulatory group?

Spicoli said,
I guess if you call governments regulatory groups.

This is exactly what we have in Capitol Hill: henchmen of regulatory groups.

Doomguy- said,
Samsung just went full retard.

Samsung has always been full retard, this is just the icing on the cake which will (perhaps) finally make consumers smarten up and stop buying their landfill-filling junk.

Julius Caro said,
that's what I'm thinking. I know in some european countries region locking is flat out outlawed.
It would be illegal to prevent you from using it in some other EU country as that is preventing free-trade within the single market but you can quite legally prevent it from working outside of the EU. The EU is basically only concerned with restrictions to the single market.

@Steven Parker, I meant mobile phones. In some countries like Italy (and maybe Switzerland?), all phones sold have to be unlocked, by law. (also, most bluray discs are region free even if they say otherwise, go figure).


@mog0, that's not how it works. there is no EU-wide policy regarding cellphone locking that I know of. in most countries it's still legal. and even if there was one, each country would still have to adapt their own laws.

so this being legal or illegal in those countries I mentioned would depend on the wording of each specific law

Seems they want people to stay away from buying their phones... This 'region locking' with false information is ridiculous.

Mackster said,
Seems they want people to stay away from buying their phones... This 'region locking' with false information is ridiculous.

Same as their artificial inflating of benchmarks. It's crazy they think they can get away with this crap and no one will notice O.o

Mackster said,
Seems they want people to stay away from buying their phones... This 'region locking' with false information is ridiculous.

All you have to do is insert a SIM from the home country of the device then the region locking is removed when the phone is activated. It's there to stop cheap imports from another country.

I sent a gs3 to my brother in law, who wanted the uk model in case he was coming back, and he's had no trouble using the device in the us and Canada, (at least he hasn't told me he's had trouble)
(He's a truck Driver working over there..)

Dushmany said,
... And there goes my side business, selling uk android phones to the usa at ridiculously marked up prices

Leave 1star reviews on Amazon and Clove.

Dushmany said,
... And there goes my side business, selling uk android phones to the usa at ridiculously marked up prices

I'm guessing you were being sarcastic, but if not couldn't you just include a local PAYG sim in the box? They sell them for a penny in my local corner shop.

lol yes I was, I've sent one phone to Canada, and that was for family, I did think about it, but knew somewhere along the line I'd get found out, taxes or some other violation, so never went forward with it

Dushmany said,
... And there goes my side business, selling uk android phones to the usa at ridiculously marked up prices

I'm Sorry.