Samsung’s new flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 3, is (as far as I know) the first phone to hit the market with a region lock. What exactly does that mean? If you shell out the 750 Euros or equivalent in your currency on a SIM-free Note 3, you’ll be required to use a SIM card from your particular market. In other words, European Notes will only work on European operators. American Notes will only work on American operators.
This discovery was made a hair over 24 hours ago, and since then there’s been an official statement from Samsung Germany, some user testing of the restriction itself, and an ungodly amount of hate being thrown at the South Korean handset maker.
Here’s the latest information as to what’s actually happening. If you buy a Note 3 with a region lock, and you turn it on with a SIM card inserted from another part of the world, the phone will ask you for a SIM unlock code. If you turn the phone on with a “proper” SIM card from the “correct” region, then the phone turns on just fine. Once said phone is up and running, if you turn it off and stick in a foreign SIM, that SIM card will work without any issues.
More importantly, say you’re traveling abroad and for whatever reason you have to hard reset your phone. Your phone will still be region-free because it’s already been activated.
Previously it was assumed that an EU Note 3 would only work in the EU. Thankfully, that’s not the case. That being said, Samsung shouldn’t have done this bullshit to begin with. I understand that they want to limit the gray market, which is defined as phones meant from county A being sold in country B. If Samsung is going to insist on doing this, they should have done a better job communicating clearly what’s going on so people (myself included) don’t freak out.
Oh and one more thing: Asian Note 3 units don’t have region locks, for what it’s worth.