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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  1. arctic_haze Silver badge
    Angel

    The Holy SIM Card of Antiochia?

    How many SIM cards has Vatican City issued?

    1. Richard Jones 1
      Thumb Down

      Re: The Holy SIM Card of Antiochia? Or Nothing SMART about a dummy phone

      I never fell for the myth of a dummy phone, sorry smart phone. They are clearly only a marketing scam. Worse, they do not even do anything useful to me, so my elderly Nokia phone will have to last many more years. The modern crap is just that CRAP.

      Well done dummy phone makers!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And they scream at Apple for having a walled garden, at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE!

      There is no excuse for region locking these devices, Fcuk Samsung.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE!

        That may be so on the 3G variants, but is certainly not true for the 4G-LTE versions...

        I suspect that Samsung, like Apple have decided to produce variants with region specific radio circuitry, so the phone will automatically roam on to 3G when outside of the home region.

        1. djack

          Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE!

          If it were a radio issue, and the warning would point out that it won't work at all in the other countries. The implication here is that roaming would work, and just not a local SIM. Whilst a technical limitation of a device is disappointing, adding deliberate blocks to functionality that the device has is abhorrent to me (even more than defending Apple).

          Is it possible that there is a new standard for a SIM that has only been rolled out in Europe and that the phone depends on a feature in this version?

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE! @djack

            Underlying this will almost certainly be a radio issue, which may facilitate other regionalisation that a vendor may consider beneficial. Unfortunately I haven't been able to put my hands on model numbers and real specifications for the Galaxy Note 3 and hence are unable to cite exact examples.

            However, the evidence from the iPhone 5s, where Apple has released five regional variants, show that currently five different radio circuits are required to fully cover all currently allocated channels and signalling standards used by 4G-LTE worldwide, with three of these variants being needed to serve the US market. These are additional to the radio's required to support fall back to 3G/2G. So given the current status of 4G chipset and radio development, it is likely that ALL manufacturers of 4G phones will have to make some hard decisions about the 4G capabilities of the phones they produce and sell in any particular country and region. This really is no different to the situation with previous generations of mobile phones. GSM back in the 1990's where it took several years for dual-band, then tri-band and finally quad-band handsets to be produced. Likewise it took time for the now seemingly ubiquitous quad-band 3G-UMTS phones to appear.

            What is certain is that all vendors will produce 4G phones that support some of the 4G channels and all of the 3G channels, because at the moment 3G is required for voice services, so 3G roaming is (and should be) possible on all phones, regardless of any 4G regionalisation.

            What is different between Apple and Samsung is that Samsung have decided to draw attention to this region limitation and have obviously used firmware to enforce a standard of performance when used with a SIM from a different region. Apple on the other hand seems not to have drawn customer attention to the region limitation in their 4G phones (perhaps someone who has purchased an iPhone 5s can confirm this), also I expect that depending upon which region the was purchased in, the region of the SIM-card and the region in which the phone is attempting to gain network access differing results will be obtained, unless Apple have also implemented similar features to Samsung...

            Having decided to produce regional variants that only contain sufficient radio circuitry for that region, the question does arise as to how the firmware can be made aware of the hardware and what it does with that information. So having firmware that knows it only contains an EU region radio, it makes sense for it to use the SIM to determine where exactly the phone is in the EU and which channels and networks are available, I suspect that this is a firmware table lookup rather than being supplied by the SIM. Obviously, if the SIM can't be found in the table, the phone defaults to 3G emergency call mode.

            As for the requirement for a phone to initially be activated by a SIM from the same country, I suspect that this may be a confusion between country and region and hence a phone purchased in Poland say should work just fine with a UK SIM, although I'm sure someone will respond if this isn't so.

            It should be noted that the region lock only applies to Samsung devices manufactured AFTER the end of July 2013. Which seem to encompass their new ranges of 4G devices and probably also impacts the non-4G variants of these devices since they are likely to be running a variant of the same firmware.

            Obviously, having implemented regional variants of a product manufacturers et al can envision other benefits to themselves. But as I said fundamentally the heart of the issue is radio's.

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE! @djack

              @Roland6

              I'm not sure why you're defending this; there may or may not be a radio issue, but other manufacturers are treating this as the problem it is (and doing their best to work around it by including different radios); Samsung are embracing it as a means of generating extra revenue.

              Reason #1 - it benefits Samsung

              I'm going to Australia in 2 weeks. I will buy an iPhone 5S there, if they have them in stock. I will pay AU$629 for the 32GB model, which is £375 at current exchange rates. I therefore save £254 on UK retail price.

              Reason #2 - it benefits the carriers

              My last roaming bill was nearly £700 (my iPhone decided to synchronise my photostream whilst tethered). Luckily the boss was paying. If I'd done the smart thing and put a local Optus SIM in my phone, I would have paid around £35 for the same amount of data.

              Both of these are very good reasons for Samsung to region-lock, irrespective of actual (radio) capability. The decision is driven by profit, not technology.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE! @Lord Elpuss

                I'm not sure that Samsung are actually generating extra revenue from this, unless they are getting a better deal from the network operators...

                Reason #1: Buying an iPhone 5s in Australia

                You may wish to compare the specification of the UK/EU model (A1457) with the Australian/Asia/Pacific model A1533) . From Apple's specification and an assessment of the LTE channels being used in Australia, it would seem that you stand a good chance of the phone working back in the UK/EU, but going the other way (UK iPhone 5s in Asia/Pacific) could be more problematic depending upon country and network.

                Interestingly, back in August, Samsung announced that the S4 and S4 mini were getting 'TDD/FDD Dual Mode LTE', but the Samsung website makes no mention of this feature. But then neither does it make any mention of the regional activation requirement/lock...

                Also bear in mind only iPhone 5s's purchased from Apple do not lock to the network of the first SIM used.

                As for this being a reason to region lock, I wasn't aware of grey imports being sufficiently high to warrant this, unless Samsung have designs on using region locking to enable them to operate vastly different pricing schemes for effectively the same model and hence create the conditions favourable to grey market expansion.

                Reason #2

                £700 - you obviously weren't stranded abroad when Eyjafjallajokull erupted in 2010! :)

                But yes data roaming is not for the faint hearted and several of my clients would take my hand off if I could provide them with a viable solution that doesn't involve people travelling with a stack of SIMs or paying a stiff premium when using UK data services. I only question whether a frequent traveller actually needs a 4G phone, given the present state of deployment and would be well advised to simply carry an unlocked 3G phone with WiFi (Skype/VoIP)...

                Yes inhibiting SIM swapping may benefit the carriers, but they would want the phone to be locked to their network (as per the iPhone 5s) and for Samsung to benefit - the carriers are going to have to hand over some of that revenue to make it worth their while compromising their product...

                No I see the current inter-regional SIM swapping situation as a temporary problem that will have largely been resolved in 3~5 years when 4G chipsets are better developed.

                So perhaps Samsung have been taking (further) lessons from Apple and are twisting the arms of carriers to gain extra revenue...

              2. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE! @Lord Elpuss

                >I'm not sure why you're defending this

                I didn't address this in my previous point. I'm seemingly defending this on technical grounds because I don't subscribe to the conspiracy theories, particularly as there are good and valid technical reasons for having regional variants of a handset, and certainly for the 80's and 90's it was the norm.

                Considering what is appearing to be the real issue, the need to use first use a SIM of the same region as the phone. A valid technical explanation is that this permits totally standard firmware and motherboard to be used worldwide, with relatively dumb modules such as radio's being added during assembly. The motherboard uses the initial SIM to provide the information it needs to determine what modules have been included and to set up some defaults such as UI language (from YouTube video's it would seem that an EU phone activated with a UK SIM defaults to an English UI, if a foreign SIM is subsequently inserted the UI remains in English).

                The only question mark is why if a out-of-region SIM is first used the phone locks rather than just asks for a valid SIM. A possible, but poor, explanation is that Samsung engineers thought that an incorrect SIM could cause a phone to perform validation actions that could damage it and so the use of an unlock code provides a means to detect such phones if faults subsequently arise.

                Obviously, whilst there may be a valid technical explanation, which in some applications would be considered appropriate, this doesn't let Samsung off the hook for how they chose to deal with the issues from a consumer perspective.

        2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
          Mushroom

          @Roland6

          According to the article this isn't about different radios, it's about Samsung deliberately locking hardware down to function only within a specified geographical region; so even if your SGN3 is compatible with local radio systems, it will not function on account of the region lock. It's DVD Region Coding all over again.

          Apple (and most other manufacturers) take a different approach; they're building in as many compatible radio systems as they can, as fast as they can, to maximise global compatibility. Samsung could do this too, but for economic reasons (being in bed with the carriers) they've decided to region-lock.

          Bomb for Samsung because I really really hope this blows up in their faces.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE!

          The new iDevices can work on more 4G networks - but at least they will fall back to 3G technologies - Samsung have just locked these down do you get nothing. That is quite different.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE! @AC

            >The new iDevices can work on more 4G networks - but at least they will fall back to 3G technologies - Samsung have just locked these down do you get nothing.

            Wrong! Samsung still permit roaming, the normal mode for 4G roaming is to fall back to 3G. What they don't support is the use of SIMs in phones from different regions. Given the lack of information, it is uncertain whether it is all SIMs or just 4G SIMs, but from a firmware logic viewpoint an all SIM block seems likely.

            I suggest there are grounds for complaint if a 4G phone can't be used worldwide with a 3G SIM to access 3G/2G services, given the level of standardisation and harmonisation of radio's for UMTS.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE! @AC

              "I suggest there are grounds for complaint if a 4G phone can't be used worldwide with a 3G SIM to access 3G/2G services, given the level of standardisation and harmonisation of radio's for UMTS."

              The whole point of the article is that the phone DOES work worldwide, but it's locked in such a way that it can only use SIM cards from a certain region and thus the customer has to pay exorbitant roaming fees when using it outside of that region.

              You seem to have written about 30 paragraphs in your original post about how this is a good thing that ensures high performance but the only thing it is ensuring is profit for the service providers.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: at least my unlocked iPad and iPhone works ANYWHERE! @AC

                AC do keep up.

                The detailed (!!!) specification for this phone on Samsung's various websites is "LTE (800 / 850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600MHz) dependent on market support" the websites make no claim that a single phone supports ALL LTE channels and neither does it give any further details about exactly what it does support. Given that no caveat is given for the other mobile network standards, it is probably safe to assume that they mean the phone in different markets/regions supports only a subset of the listed frequencies.

                My "30 paragraphs" outlines a technical reason why Samsung may have chosen to limit their phones in the way they have (and why we can expect other manufacturers to also place regional limitations on their phones). However, without further details (like Apple gives about the iPhone 5s see http://www.apple.com/iphone-5s/specs/ ) which would allow owners to determine which model they possess, we are speculating about just what exactly are the capabilities of each regional variant.

                Obviously if Samsung are producing a single world phone that does support ALL LTE channels, but is being region locked beyond asking the user to first activate the phone with a SIM from the same region then we should be asking questions. However I doubt this is likely given the state of chipset development and the battery life being seen for LTE mode.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A problem?

      Would this not be solved with a custom ROM?

  2. Phil A.

    Not just the Note 3

    I got an identical sticker on the side of my sim free S4 from Phones4U.

    I Thought it was strange at the time, but I never bother with SIM swapping when abroad anyway so it didn't worry me too much

    1. Cliff

      Re: Not just the Note 3

      Thanks for the warnings, looks like I'd be mad to upgrade. Silly, silly Samsung.

  3. ecofeco Silver badge

    The Walled Garden Effect

    The "walled garden" always fails in the end.

    Will they never learn?

  4. Greg J Preece

    This just seems like a backward step as a consumer. Ever since I started buying smartphones 10 years ago, one of the things I've loved about them is their ability to go anywhere, do anything - surely that's the point?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Walled Garden Effect

      while I agree with your opposition to closed ecosystems, I'm not so sure your conclusions are accurate. at least in apple's case the walled garden is still quite profitable - as ios loses marketshare to android it's easy to forget that not so long ago apple didn't make phones at all, much less possess the lion's share of the profit in the category.

    2. Philip Lewis
      FAIL

      Re: The Walled Garden Effect

      Apple have 115 billion reasons to dispute your assertion, and if the walled garden somehow ceased to exist at sunrise tomorrow, those 110 billion reasons would still exist.

  5. Number6

    Note to self...

    Remember to ask for a written statement that the phone I buy will work anywhere in the world with any valid SIM in it.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Note to self...

      The answer will be F.Y.R.O.M.: F*ck You, Read Our Manual!

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Note to self... @ Mr Monsters

        ... and my answer will be "Give me a copy of the manual *before* I buy, or no sale."

  6. dorsetknob
    FAIL

    Jailbreak time

    Time for the hardware hackers to get to work

    I Predict that this phone will be jailbroken within the week

    this is not a Smart move by Samsung they are going to lose sales by doing this and not just phones

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Jailbreak time

      You should not need to.

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    Global Village?

    Yeah the the world is getting smaller by the day but only when it suits a lot of businesses. Market differentials are basically a way of ripping off consumers,

    I won't be buying a Samsung while they use region locking.

  8. John H Woods Silver badge

    Hey Samsung ...

    If it can only be used in Europe, how about you only manufacture it in Europe? Businesses love the benefits of globabization but they seem to think it is ok to prevent us enjoying the same. S4 Active order cancelled.

  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Samsung's Footgun moment?

    IMHO, this is a totally stupid move. I'd really like to know why they decided to do this. Perhaps they think that Korean's don't travel but given the numbers I've seen in London recently I beg to differ.

    Not even Apple wouldn't be so crazy as to do this or would they?

    1. amanfromearth
      Headmaster

      Re: Korean's

      Koreans

    2. dssf

      Re: Samsung's Footgun moment? Not sure, but...

      Can there be any national security reasons, say, such as the EU wanting to make sure the USA cannot lean on Samsung to bug Europeans' phone, or other countries, after the EU model rolls out? Maybe the US is also leaning on Samsung to "protect" USA travlers? Or, could Samsung be testing waters to see of it can protect Koreans later, after Samsung learns technically from hackers removing the region blocking?

      Just curious....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear, goodbye Samsung. I like Samsung phones, but this kills it. I can see no reason to cripple unlocked phones. If it is advertised as GSM, and it doesn't work globally, I think trading standards need to get involved.

  11. Ian Tresman

    Everyone should contact Samsung UK and ask for confirmation, before telling them that you intend to buy elsewhere.

  12. Richard 126

    I WAS going to buy one of them but for me it needs to spend half of its life with an Australian sim in it not bloody likely now.

  13. Bad Beaver

    This is a hoax, right?

    Please supply us with a reply from Sammy should you get one. This certainly is a runner for the top ten of "how to fuck up your brand" premium-bad-ideas(tm).

    1. Mark .

      Re: This is a hoax, right?

      http://sammyhub.com/2013/09/26/european-galaxy-note-3-and-other-samsung-devices-are-now-region-locked/ has an update from Samsung:

      "Apparently, it is not region locked as the sticker wants us to believe. According to a new statement given to All About Samsung, an activation in Europe will permanently unlock the device for the user to use in any part of the world."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is a hoax, right?

        The sticker says otherwise, and, it still means that I can't buy the phone in the UK for a present for someone outside Europe.

        1. Andus McCoatover
          Windows

          Re: This is a hoax, right?

          Buy a phone in Rip-Off Britain, to give as a gift to someone living in a place the purchase would most definitely be cheaper?

          Money to burn...

      2. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: This is a hoax, right? @ Mark .

        just had a look at that site. It doesn't say what you think it says. In fact, the statements issued are so badly worded they are almost meaningless, but the gist is that they are region locked, though (I think) the region lock is disabled once a SIM from an EEA country is registered to the phone. It also seems to say that the region lock can be removed at a Samsung approved centre ...

        The important bit is that the new phones *are* region locked by Samsung's own admission. Anyone want to buy a new phone that needs a custom ROM out of the box? I doubt I do ...

        How long until the press release saying this was all a misunderstanding?

        1. Mark .

          Re: This is a hoax, right? @ Mark .

          It's bad in that there's some kind of locking that would say cause problems if you wanted to import a device from elsewhere. On the other hand, it doesn't seem it would cause a problem for people who wanted to travel and pop a local SIM card in abroad, which is what would cause far bigger problems for most people.

          I agree the statements are badly worded, it really needs some concrete evidence to see what is actually going on here.

  14. Martin 47

    I didn't realise Samsung had been taken over by Sony

    1. RAMChYLD

      World is now upside-down

      Even Sony has been quietly moving away from region locking.

      Sony discourages game publishers from region-locking games released for the PS3, and all Sony TVs sold here in Asia supports the PAL, SECAM and NTSC analog TV systems, as well as both ISDB-T and DVB-T/T2 digital systems.

      On the other hand, region locking phones is ridiculous. Just like region-locking the Nintendo 3DS is.

  15. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Or is it a rumour originating with a fruity fone firm ??

    If true, they have just alienated a HUGE part of their market, no businessman or regular international traveller is going to buy this phone; I still get hacked off at Dubai for insisting I buy a local SIM card!!!

    I bought my current phone because it was Quad band and will work anywhere in the world, if it wont work during my 1-6 month jaunts to the far east, they can (in the words of a Chinese friend), BUGGER OFF!!

    1. amanfromearth

      Re: Or is it a rumour originating with a fruity fone firm ??

      Maybe you can explain how Apple put these stickers on Samsung boxes.

      Or just STFU.

      Yes, thats the best idea. Do that.

  16. Paul E

    Bad sticker wording

    There is a line that actually the region locking is ONLY for when the device is first registered. i.e. a euro phone must be registered with a euro sim. After that its region free the idea being to reduce the gray market. If this is the case then it should not be a problem for anyone who wants to swap sims but if it is the case then the person who worded the sticker needs a slap.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad sticker wording

      So you can't buy the phone for someone as a present outside Europe. Either way, when I buy a phone I should be able to use it where I like and with whatever SIM I like. Which part of MOBILE phone do Samsung not understand?

      1. Brian Morrison

        Re: Bad sticker wording

        Looks like they are trying to prevent the re-sale of phones sold with a subsidy, or indeed to make it more difficult to ship stolen phones abroad.

        Still not a good idea but I can see why they might have wanted to do it.

    2. Chairo

      Re: Bad sticker wording

      And will the phone still be unlocked after a reset, eg. due to a software update? Well, as a global citizen that moves around a lot, I am not going to take the risk.

      At least not as long as there are plenty of "really" unlocked phones around.

      I am still remembering my HP 3210a printer I bought in Japan and took to Europe a year later. I made sure to buy only equipment that works with 240 volts, but they got me by putting a country lock on the ink cardrige chip.

      My last HP product, too, btw...

  17. Tom 35 Silver badge

    I have never taken my phone to another country

    And bought a local sim. So far at least, but I would not touch a phone with any region lock crap.

    1. Paw Bokenfohr

      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.

  18. Bernard

    I was going to buy one of these.

    Now I'm not.

    Morons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I was going to buy one of these.

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

  19. MeRp

    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.

  20. Fihart

    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.

  21. DougS 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.

    1. Don Jefe

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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)

      2. DougS Silver badge

        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?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  23. stizzleswick
    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.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: No matter the intention...

      It's a protologism :)

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

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Michael Langner

    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

  26. RAMChYLD

    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.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  28. Sampler

    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.

    1. John H Woods 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!

  29. julianh72
    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!

  30. nsld

    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.

  31. Gadgety

    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.

  32. Piro

    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..

  33. Chairo

    Another great brand just died

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

  34. amanfromearth

    S.O.L.

    S.O.O.L. surely?

  35. Wang N Staines

    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.

  36. Lloyd

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  38. Lostintranslation

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

  39. petur
    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.

  40. Peter 48

    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.

    1. Nigel 11
      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!

    2. pigor

      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).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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!

  41. Daniel Voyce

    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?

    1. Roland6 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...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Alan_Peery

      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.

  43. Paul Shirley

    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.

    1. pigor

      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

      1. Paul Shirley

        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.

  44. Gil Grissum

    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.

  45. Anonymous Custard 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?

  46. Endymion

    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).

    1. pigor

      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

      1. Endymion

        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.

  47. Boring Bob

    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".

  48. UncleMike987

    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...

  49. Endymion

    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?

  50. chipxtreme
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How does putting a UK SIM in the phone and then taking it out remove a region lock?

      Maybe I missed something but this sounds like saying your car doesn't need gas, because all you have to do is put some in and then take it out and the car will run without gas.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here we see the folly of basing a phone's operating system in Linux

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You prefer FreeBSD I guess?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Liars

    In another forum, Samsung are rported to have mentioned" to improve customer experience"

    WTF. How does it improve the customer experience when they have to go thru this unlocking procedure and the rigmarole of it all?

    "Customer experience" is the most abused & hypocritcal term, bandied about, lately.

    Bullshit of the highest order.

  53. Gorio

    Note 3 order cancelled at least my Note 2 does not suffer from this idiocy, however I did have to check it was not April Fools day, this is stupidity. Did Betamax teach tech companies nothing?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      RE: at least my Note 2 does not suffer from this idiocy

      Perhaps that's because it is a 3G phone and not a 4G phone?

  54. Nigel Steward
    Thumb Up

    My Galaxy Note 3 - from Vodafone arrived a couple of days ago. No warning sticker; and all seems AOK.

    Certainly a great 'phone with an excellent display.

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