Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 Region Lock Isn’t Quite What It Seems


On Thursday, the day after the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 began shipping in Europe, we learned that the South Korean company has been region-locking its new phablet to prevent owners from using international SIM cards. We were all pretty bemused by the move, but it turns out it may not be as bad as it seems.

Providing you activate the device with the right SIM, you should have no problem using an international one when you go abroad.

To be fair, we were all right to be concerned. The message Samsung has been sticking to the side of its Galaxy Note 3 boxes simply read, “this product is only compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within Europe.” A similar message was also applied to the American version of the device.


Samsung’s sticker.

It’s no wonder, then, that we assumed the handset could not be used with an international SIM card; after all, that’s exactly what the message says. But it seems it may not be all that accurate. According to Android Central, as long as you active the device with a local SIM card, you can use an international one in it later on.

The region lock is only applied to the device if it’s activated with an international SIM card, in which case it will only work with other SIM cards from that country in the future. But if you activate it in the way Samsung intended, the restriction isn’t applied at all.

Samsung could have been a little clearer about this with its sticker, rather than bluntly telling us the device is region-locked from the start. Hopefully, it will alter the wording in that message as soon as possible, otherwise it’s going to find itself having to answer to a lot of confused Galaxy Note 3 owners.

We still don’t know why Samsung is region-locking the handset at all, and will probably never will. But you shouldn’t have to worry about it as long as you use the right SIM for activation. If you’ve already gone too far and used the wrong one, a local Samsung service center should be able to reset the region-lock for you.