back to article Travel much? DON'T buy a Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung has crippled its new Galaxy Note 3 by adding region-locking, making buyers of unlocked units attempting to use it in geographies outside of the area in which it was purchased subject to exorbitant roaming fees. "We wish to make our customers aware of certain functionality limitation regarding SIM cards on the Note 3. …

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Re: I have never taken my phone to another country

Lots of us do, so a combination of people like you who know better than to support this practice, and people like me who need this function out of a phone (as much as any of us *need* a mobile phone) I suspect that Samsung will be losing a lot of business.

I was about to replace my aging (work) iPhone 4 with a Galaxy S3, S3 Mini, or Nexus 4. Guess which one I'll be choosing now, despite none of them being directly affected by this.

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I was going to buy one of these.

Now I'm not.

Morons.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I was going to buy one of these.

Me too. No lie. They just lost another customer.

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Lame, guess it is one more thing to make me hesitate on this, since there's a not-insignificant chance that I'll want to take my phone to the Philippines during its lifetime.

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Typical South Korean conduct

The domestic market is highly controlled, some stores even being subsidiaries of the mega corps familiar to us. But young Koreans travel quite a lot and the temptation must be to bring in stuff from cheaper markets like Singapore, Hong Kong.

This was demonstrated to me by a neighbour who bought a Sony camera in London and found she could not download the Korean language manual for it from outside Korea.

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Silver badge

This is stupid of them

If anyone was going to do this, you would think it would be Apple. When the 4S (I think it was launched) I remember reading about a Chinese guy who paid 100 people to wait in line to buy their maximum two iPhones each, and he was going to take all 200 phones back to China that night. Not only was the US price some $150 less than the price in China, but since they weren't going to be released in China for another couple months he could sell them for at least double what he paid. He said he would make well over $100,000 doing this. Almost made me wish I'd thought of it :)

I just can't imagine gray market imports are costing Samsung much money, unless the price disparity between countries is a lot bigger even than it is for Apple.

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Re: This is stupid of them

It probably isn't gray market imports hurt Samsung, it is that they hurt their channel partners. The monetary difference in price between a gray market purchase and a 'regular' purchase is the cut the channel keeps. Since it is nearly impossible to stop gray market imports/exports the easiest thing to do prevent the phone from working.

I'm not sure how I really feel about this. I've been on both sides and from a distribution standpoint I completely understand, especially with a product that is bound for consumers. The distributor/reseller ends up on the hook for tons of bad calls made by its retail customers; it isn't just shift a box through. The retailer, to keep a customer, will take things back/swap them out that really shouldn't qualify for that level of service. They want to keep their customer happy.

The distributor/reseller then ends up with the same problem as the retailer tries to push the, now used, product back up stream. The distributor/reseller wants to keep their customers happy so they either credit the account or push a new replacement back downstream. Sometimes the distributor/reseller can get the manufacturer to take the thing back, but more often than not, they're stuck with an unsaleable thing.

The channel is a shitty place to make your business but manufacturers like it because they're one step further away from the end user, which is the absolute worst place to be. For consumers, well, the whole thing usually ends up fucking them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is stupid of them

I'm not so sure, there is more than a modicum of RIAA style logic here.

Grey market sale != loss of local sale, if anything a grey market sale is more equivalent to a loss of sale of a device of same price as the grey market sale; most likely an inferior device, not necessarily from samillustrative mfr.

Gaming example: a person as 150monies, a 3ds may be same price locally (149.99monies) as a vita grey market import (149.99monies), has buying the grey market import lost the local sale of a vita? no... the consumer only had 150monies, traded up (devious bugger), hard luck ninty. (Note: example for illistrative purposes only, noone wants a PS Vita)

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Re: This is stupid of them

Doesn't Apple have channel partners too? Apple's stores are well publicized, but they sell only a minority of iPhones. The rest are sold by carriers, places like Walmart or online stores like Amazon.

Anyway, why only do this for the Note 3? Why not for the GS3 & GS4? Or is this something that might be on the way for the GS5?

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Anonymous Coward

I brought a Hong Kong note 2 for use in NZ, it was about $200 cheaper.

I think this is what they want to stop.

But its my choice - back then it was the only phablet, now there are many.

If I need to change it won't be to Samsung.

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FAIL

No matter the intention...

...the regionalisation (and I apologise for the unwarranted word-coining here) of any device or medium has so far been proven ineffective, to say the least. Point in case, the DVD; please bear with me for a moments, there is a point to it all at the end...

When I buy a DVD medium anywhere in the world, I buy a license to view its contents. The problem being that the manufacturers had decided way back when that DVD media intended for the US marked should not be able to be played in, say, Europe. By European copyright law, that's a no-no. I bought the right to playback, and that cannot be removed by moving to a different country, or continent. Not even planet. So the European copyright bods never did anything about things like, say, the VLC, which outright ignores Region Locking on DVDs and BRDs. Which is a good thing.

Now... if you have a global market in mind, which all cellphone manufacturers/distributors have, any attempt at region-locking is, by definition, suicide. You see, I bought this phone. Paid for it. Simlock-free. And now they want to tell me I can only use SIMs from one particular area? Bad move... guess what, I'll buy from _honest_ people instead. Even if it costs a little more.

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Re: No matter the intention...

It's a protologism :)

http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-pro1.htm

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This post has been deleted by its author

Not the Singapore units...

Over here they are completely unlocked, as per regulations. I've plugged in SIM cards from 6 different countries and it works fine. This seems to be specifically Clove locking down the phones.

I have a feeling the local sets will have a very high resale value. :P

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One more thing

Sammy released a solid gold version of the Note 3^H^H^H^H^H^H Galaxy S4 but only in Saudi Arabia. Guess they don't want people to mass import it.

Imo tho: All forms of region locking are stupid and proponents of region-locking should be boycotted.

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Anonymous Coward

Great opportunity

Seems like a great opportunity for another android manufacturer, Samsung has just dropped the ball on the high end market. HTC won't grab it, not while they won't sell their phones with uSD and removable battery outside of China. But Sony's offerings start being attractive again...

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lost sale

Well, that's one lost sale, I was contemplating an S4 Active as my next phone; I use sports tracking a lot and putting my OneX in a baggy for swimming or even cycling and running (in case of rain) is a bit of a chore, so a naturally water proof phone would be ideal.

Not ideal if I can't use it when I visit home in the UK and don't want to pay the high cost of my Australian sim and simply want to swap out to a prepay. I brought my OneX to Aus and swapped the sims without an issue when I emigrated, I guess I'm back to sitting and waiting to see if HTC make a waterproof One.

I'm guessing it's not a massive market that A) has this need and B) will be aware when buying their next phone but I can imagine this'll tarnish Sammy's image and lose more than just my sale.

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Silver badge

Re: lost sale

I agree. I was torn between the Sony Xperia Z1 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. No longer, as one of them is region locked - and it isn''t the one I would have expected!

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WTF?

Seems it's not just the Galaxy Note

According to Android Police:

The new policy, at this point, applies to Galaxy S III, S II, Note, S4, S4 Mini, and Note 3 devices produced after the end of July 2013.

http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/09/26/samsung-has-begun-sim-locking-its-phones-across-the-world-to-home-regions-putting-the-squeeze-on-phone-importers/

Wow! One more reason to buy a Nexus instead of a Samsung, if you weren't already convinced!

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was just about replace SWMBO's Galaxy S with an S4

But not anymore.

Been a heavy Samsung user for years but this has sealed the deal for me on moving over to something else.

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F*** Samsung - they have the wrong concept of trust

1. Wow I'm I glad I didn't buy the Note 3

2. This is probably the first time in a long while I get emotionally involved in tech news.

3. I hope the EU, which is trying to root out roaming fees, finds a way to slam Samsung so hard it hurts a billion ways.

4. This has turned me off Samsung really, really badly. I'm not surprised, though since Samsung's coming from Korean Chaebol society i.e. where rigging of markets and procurement is the whole understanding of how it should work. This is the kind of thing the US is officially banning in so called anti-trust lawsuits, and so does EU. Samsung found a way to fool the consumer. Great. They'll get the pay back. At least I'm not buying another Samsung phone. F*** Samsung.

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No real desire to buy a Samsung handset anyway

I'm sure they're only the most popular because of marketing...

Same with their TVs and so on..

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Another great brand just died

Bye bye Sammy, it was nice to know you, may you rest in peace!

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S.O.L.

S.O.O.L. surely?

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Fuck you Samsung!

I was going to buy the Note 8 (which isn't affected by the locking anyway), however because of this stunt I'll look for a different 8" tab.

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It's almost as though......

The EU based Mobile networks have realised that they're getting shafted by people buying foreign sim cards and are asking mobile manufacturers to stop it, but surely they wouldn't be that unscrupulous would they? Oh hold on, I was talking about mobile network operators wasn't I, ignore that last bit, they're all crunts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's almost as though......

It not almost as though. It is !

A replica and mirror of DVD regional coding. Our Sim will work anywhere (see we are global) so long as you pay us the shakeout price gouging charges!

And we are not breaking the law. It is Samsung doing us the favour. wink wink, nod nod.

And its not that they are getting shafted by people. Its them shafting themselves. have had it too comfortable for far too long. With globalisation, you compete on equal terms, but hey we live in the dinosaur age in EU Citadels.

A bit like the RIAA and MPAA sob story," piracy = lost sale"." travellers using a local SIM abroad= lost roaming rip-off charges"

I wish Samsung all the worst of publicity and bad reputation, equating in substantial lost sales, till they come out with a grovelling apology, OR come clean on the nexus with Mobile operators and whose insistence made them do so.

Samsung is uqually conniving, and worthy of Competition commissioners inquest.

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Anonymous Coward

Greedy Bastards

Am sure its also in connivance with the Mobile operators to protect the rip-off roaming charges.

Wake up EU commissioners and do your job, idiots.

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Hey Samsung, throw that hard earned trust and customer loyalty straight out the window why don'tcha?

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FAIL

grey market

Somebody should tell them, if they want to fight the grey market, they shouldn't have created it first by asking different prices depending on the region, and not releasing the devices everywhere at the same time.

Too bad, the note 3 was aso on my shortlist. Bye bye Samsung.

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Calm Down

This has been blown way out of proportion. Samsung have officially stated that this lock only applies to the very first activation. A EU phone would need to be activated in the EU etc after that it functions like any other unlocked phone. For those that still want to import one from a different region you can still do that but you would need to get it unlocked at your local Samsung Service Centre (for free). So the sticker is correct.

http://allaboutsamsung.de/2013/09/samsung-gibt-statement-galaxy-note-3-galaxy-s-4-und-co-ab-sofort-mit-regionaler-sim-karten-sperre/

https://www.facebook.com/SamsungSwitzerland/posts/600488789993594

This isn't so much a walled garden as it is a thin paper ribbon.

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Devil

Re: Calm Down

This isn't so much a walled garden as it is a thin paper ribbon.

For how long? Until the next firmware upgrade? Until someone decides to replace paper by steel and flicks a virtual switch at Samsung HQ?

Until that sticker disappears from the box, and all mention of region-locking is gone from the documentation, refuse to buy it. This is the only way to protect yourself from slav^H^H^H^Hexploitation.

Other rmanufacturers: this is your chance. Guarantee and advertize that your product will work globally, with any SIM, forever. Do it now. Strike while the iron is hot!

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Re: Calm Down

actually the Samsung clarification doesn't say that the phone is not region locked.

If you read clearly it says that it is region locked but you can continue using via roaming: nowhere Samsung says that when you change your EU SIM with a non-EU SIM it will work.

More revealing Samsung says that you can unlock the phone in authorised shops (in determinates conditions).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Calm Down

SO why the fuck did you ever need it in first place? (This paper ribbon shit). Testing the waters for a full blown lockdown?

Wankers!

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This is ridiculous! Is there a work around?

I would never buy a phone that is region locked - I have been travelling around Asia for the past year and buying a local sim card in each country as I have gone has been the cheapest way of keeping in contact!

Is this done in software only? E.g. could it be removed with a custom kernel / ROM? Anyone know?

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Silver badge

Re: This is ridiculous! Is there a work around?

Yes, in general don't buy either a phone with an explicitly declared regional lock (eg. Samsung Galaxy Note 3), or one with an implicit regional lock such as a current generation 4G-LTE phone (eg. iPhone 5s) or a 3G phone that is a cut down 4G phone (ie. uses the same firmware but doesn't have the 4G radio circuitry)!

For the travelling around Asia example you gave, there is no indication that a region locked phone can't be used in the same way, just don't expect to be able to meaningfully insert a SIM from another region and expect it to work. As for N.Amercia, things are more problematic, remember Apple have 3 variants of the iPhone 5s...

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Anonymous Coward

A tad misleading

Just an ever so slightly misleading article.

This is no different than a provider sim locking the phone which the likes of o2 and Orange have been doing ever since they first started selling phone contracts.

The phone will work anywhere but just with the home sim in it.

No different than having a limited radio on the phone like all iphones have or other country specific phones. For example having a 4G phone will only work on the specific 4G frequency that the phone has been set up on and not all 4G networks.

No different than the 10 versions of iphone 5c which are country specific as the radio only works on certain frequency's.

Yes its not a bright move by samsung, and it will only be a software limitation, which in turn will be hacked within minutes. No big deal really.

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Re: A tad misleading

Try reading the article again. It's not about inability to roam (and pay your telco lots of roaming fees), it's about being able to swap in SIMs from other countries as you move from region to region in the world.

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also breaking data services

I've had reports recently that Samsung devices are now resetting APN settings when you change SIM, wiping anything you entered manually. That's a problem if your network doesn't have an entry in the default list: change SIM - lose data access, have a SIM glitch - lose data access. Manually entering the required APN seems to be beyond a surprising number of users, just check the giffgaff support forum for a daily reminder of this - or the 120k downloads of the app that does it for them.

Before that were reports that Samsung were blocking manual creation of new APNs, potentially locking out any new network and needing a work round for MVMOs like giffgaff on existing ones. (Sony actually did this first with the Tipo but it doesn't seem to have spread to the rest of their range)

There's a lot more SIM blocking monkey business going on at Samsung than region locking.

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Re: also breaking data services

I can confirm the first and deny the second :)

I notice that once I switched SIM (from Norwegian's Chess to Italian's TIM) my Samsung S4 deleted the old APN (Chess).

Automatically it created a new one (TIM) .... which did not work with my phone (even if correct, it was a TIM misconfiguration).

However I was able to edit existing APN as well as creating new ones.

In the past one of the big barriers to data adoption was incapacity for users to correctly insert APN. :(

Samsung in this case it trying to help to reduce the issue of having the user manage multiple APN.

I was surprised by the behaviour, but not too concerned because I was able to manually create/edit APNs

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Re: also breaking data services

"I switched SIM (from Norwegian's Chess to Italian's TIM) my Samsung S4 deleted the old APN (Chess).

Automatically it created a new one (TIM)"

*Stock* Android will look like it's doing that because Android filters the APN list you're shown by MNC/MCC code. The Chess APN is still there, you just can't see it or select it. It didn't create the new APN either, it was already there. Change the SIM and it will try to guess the correct APN for the new MNC/MCC code, sometimes it gets that wrong. What it doesn't do is prevent you adding new entries, editing existing ones or delete entries automatically and the filtered list comes from that active db.

What Samsung are claimed to be doing seems to be resetting the active APN db to it's virgin state after a SIM change, actually wiping any changes you made. Some devices also seem to be locking the APN name field and physically removing the 'new APN' button. giffgaff owners aren't pleased because the virgin db doesn't include giffgaff.

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Way to got, Samsung. Guess you don't plan on selling too many of those Note 3's. This about guaranties that our Aviation client does not upgrade to the Note 3. They're likely to look elsewhere for a Phablet solution for their flight attendant's. I've heard that Delta's Flight Attendants are using Nokia Windows Phones. They're not Phablets, but at least they aren't region locked and they are on AT&T.

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Silver badge
Flame

One for Neelie K?

Well as she seemingly has won her war with the carriers on this, maybe time to set her onto the hardware side of things too so the job is fully done?

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Just to clarify, this isn't a gouge to force you to use an EU operator's SIM card with the associated astronomical data and voice tarriffs.

Once the phone is activiated with a SIM from it's home region, an unlocked phone can then be used with a SIM from ANY other region worldwide. If you first start up the phone using a SIM code from outside of the region, it will still work wih a SIM card from within the region, but will be blocked from using a non-regional SIM code.

See uk mobile review for more info...

http://ukmobilereview.com/2013/09/galaxy-note-3-sim-restrictions-full-story-unlock/

It isn't aimed at locking you into a region's carriers with their roaming tarriffs - it is to stop parallel import channels, although they could still work around it by shipping a PAYG sim to whereever for the user to use before their local carrier SIM.

Oh, and there are already region unlock codes available from variou sources for an additional charge.

Not draconian, and no real impact to me as an end user. I don't believe it is the thin end of the wedge either, especially with the degree of vituperation displayed based on this misunderstanding. As it has only just been discovered, but has in fact been in place since July on the Note 2, S4 and other models, it seems to be working as expected (unless you are buying from a grey importer).

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The misunderstanding, was created by the idiotic marketing team of Samsung.

The way they write on the sticker and their so called explanation make you think about a real region lock.

If it is a misunderstanding, I give 10 points to Samsung for the intention of informing the user, but -1 trillion points for sloppy execution!

It's "funny" that I asked information on Samsung's Norway facebook page and my post was duly deleted.

A reseller, once called, had no clue about it: they didn't get any explanation from Samsung

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yes, astonishly poor communications. Just look at all of the unnecessary uproar here and elsewhere that has resulted. The wording on the box of my Note 3 suggests something far worse than the reality.

This is a huge, huge PR gaff!. Knowing what the score is, I'm not in the least bit bothered, but was on the verge of sending it back when it appeared I wouldn't be able to use local SIMs in the US or other places I travel outside of Europe.

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G does not stand for Global

The G in GSM does not and never did stand for Global. GSM is named after the people who wrote the standard, "Group Spécial Mobile".

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Samsung S3 is the same

I live in Switzerland, and bought a Samsung S3 phone this week.

It also had this sticker on the outside of the box, warning buyers that it won't work abroad.

So this issue doesn't seem to be limited to the Samsung Galaxy Note...

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it is also very easy to work around, so I don't know how effective it is as a control method. What is to stop a UK reseller including a free UK PAYG SIM in the package, with an instruction note and then shipping it to Australia, New Zealand etc?

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Facepalm

Article needs updating to reflect what we now know to be the case. Its effectively a non-issue for the average Joe. Until I knew exactly the ramifications of this sticker I was annoyed. As I only buy unlocked handsets anyway and usually stay in UK its not in the slightest bit relevant to me as if I did want to go to a non-uk country, their sim cards would work in my phone as the region lock would of been removed the second I put my 3 UK sim in the phone.

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