[UPDATE] Here’s Samsung’s vague official statement regarding Galaxy Note 3′s regional SIM lock

The Galaxy Note 3 might look like a great device on paper, but it was a disappointing revelation yesterday that Samsung’s latest phablet won’t work with SIM cards from operators outside the continent it was purchased in (for example, a Note 3 bought in Europe won’t work with SIM cards in the USA, or anywhere else for that matter). We’ve been wondering whether this is by hardware design or simply a software lock, and unfortunately, Samsung’s official statement doesn’t exactly clear things up.

UPDATE: While Samsung’s wordings aren’t very clear, it seems that the Galaxy Note 3 will actually be usable everywhere, but not before it is activated with a SIM from the region it was bought in. Once you activate it/use it with a local SIM, you’ll be able to visit other regions/travel abroad and use it with SIM cards from that particular region without issues. This is likely to reduce grey imports by retailers and those who want to make a quick buck by importing the device and selling it at higher prices, as the retailer would have to open the box to activate it before selling it, which would make it less attractive to a buyer. However, until Samsung makes an even clearer statement, you probably should refrain from importing even a Note 3 that has been activated in its home region.

Original story: Here’s the statement Samsung sent in to AllAboutSamsung.de:

Some current Samsung products are now provided with a local SIM card lock. This means that devices purchased in the European Union, with SIM cards of mobile operators from Germany and from the European Union and the European Economic Area (the “European region”) work as usual.

Users of these Samsung devices can continue to use these together with their SIM card of a mobile operator from the European region via roaming service to appropriate roaming charges to their wireless service provider around the world. If purchased in the European Union and not yet been put into use to be activated for the first time abroad, users can unlock their device for the region free from local Samsung service partners.

The regional SIM card lock only affects the following Samsung models that are produced from the end of July 2013, and provided with a corresponding sticker:

Samsung GALAXY S III, II, GALAXY Note, GALAXY S4, S4 GALAXY mini and the GALAXY Note 3

Devices that have been delivered by Samsung and are in camps or even at retail are not affected.

Specifically, there is a functionality of the devices with SIM cards of mobile operators from the following countries:

Countries of the European Economic Area (EEA):
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands , Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK, Switzerland, Croatia

- Non-EU/EEA:
Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Vatican City

Now, let’s look at the statement closely. Here’s what it says: “If purchased in the European Union and not yet been put into use to be activated for the first time abroad, users can unlock their device for the region free from local Samsung service partners.” Now, that seems to suggest that if the handset is bought in Europe but has not yet been turned on or activated for use with a particular SIM card, we’ll be able to get it unlocked from a Samsung service partner.

However, what Samsung means by the word “abroad” is the confusing part – does that mean when someone travels to a country within Europe, or does it mean a nation in a non-European region? It’s quite the vague statement, so again, we’re no close to knowing whether we’ll really be able to buy the Galaxy Note 3 in Europe and then use it with a SIM card in, say, an Asian country.

Furthermore, Samsung mentions that all the Galaxy S II, S3, S4, S4 mini, and the Galaxy Note models produced at the end of July also have the regional SIM lock. Which brings us to the question: have any of you bought one of the aforementioned devices (off-contract and for full price) recently and tried to use it in another continent? Did it work, or did it need an unlock? Let us know in the comments, and pray Samsung comes out with a clearer explanation soon.

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2 years 10 months ago

I bought s4 a week before from saudi arabia and the seller told me that this is with region lock. I have already activated my mob at Saudi Arabia. But the seller told me this will not work outside the designated region as as one of his customer failed to do so. Also I have doubt,even if we get activated locally as mentioned above and also able to use outside region like India and then we do factory reset and deleting all cache what will happen then, is it possible to activate the mobile.

3 years 1 month ago

I have a unlocked S3 I brought in Germany late Aug 2013, activated and using an O2 SIM card. Just was in Spain for vacation in October and used a Spanish prepaid Vodafone SIM card for telephone and web access while there. No problem with SIM card , it worked fine. I brought this phone from one of the local electronic stores here in Germany. My lady also has a S3 I brought in June 2013 unlocked. There was no sticker on either box warning about region locked.

3 years 2 months ago


I happen to get my new Samsung S3 (SIM Free) just now and it has a sticker on it stating: -

“European Model: This product is only compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within Europe. (as defined EU/EEA, Switzerland and the following Non-EEA countires Albania, Andorra, Bosnia….. Vatican City.)

Issue is that I am due to travel to Singapore/ India in starting middle of October for about 6 months.. should I just return this phone due to this ambiguous sticker?

This policy comes to me as a surprize and its no where mentioned anywhere on dealer/ suppliers site!!

Is Samsung hearing this? You have next 16 hours to respond else expect a return of your newly shipped S3 to your stores at 10AM tomorrow.


3 years 2 months ago

Return it, its a shady way to sell phone like that , if its sim free it should work everywhere no reason to limit the user what so ever.

3 years 2 months ago

No sticker on my S4 bought in July…tested it today with an American SIM card and it’s working. Pfiuh….

Good luck guys….if you bought the ones with stickers :)

3 years 2 months ago

Luck guy, you got one from old stock..

3 years 2 months ago

What about Asia is the set SIM lock too?
Why such blunder when JK Shin during launch was boosting the Note3 have global connectivty!
Now I am having second thought on this set.
Shame on you Samsung and not even to present a clear statement on this confusion to your customers! @##$

3 years 2 months ago

Why the panic? I’m pretty sure Samsung already had a solution for this, simply buy another note 3 when you travel to another region. Better yet, buy all different regions note 3s to make sure you can cover the whole world.

3 years 2 months ago

LOL i hope you realize how silly your comment is right?
Its not like we are talking about buying a gum here…

3 years 2 months ago

Seriously hope Samsung is not locking their phones (dont matter which), so far i changed from iphone to galaxyS3 and now S4 and planning to get Note3 but if they are starting to lock down (apple style) i will stop supporting them and will go for Sony.

3 years 2 months ago

I find it interesting that the Galaxy S4 on Verizon Wireless DID NOT have any such sticker and my phone was purchased in September and sent back a couple weeks later since I chose to wait for the GN3.

So it would seem odd that a phone that was made after July did not have said sticker or warning.

Furious D
3 years 2 months ago

I’ve been waiting for this phone for a while now, and as a semi-regular traveller between Australia and the UK I can’t afford to have a sim lock. This would be a deal breaker Samsung! I’m sure I’m not the only one – the phone’s aimed at the business end of the market, and business people travel. Very poor marketing strategy if it turns out to be correct.

3 years 2 months ago

Whaaaaa you talking bout willis? Nooooooooo, Sammy boi. What are you doing, staaaaahp, don’t do it… Why are you doing this!?! Well, i’m still kicking your Note 1, because i didn’t like the skinny 16:9 ratio of the Note 2. Now, the Note 3 is even “SKINNIER” than the Note 2!!! And with Regional SIM “lockdown”, really? Maybe i’ll spend my money again on your YOUM folding smartphone, until then, i’m still lovin’ my OG-Note.

P.S. Glad i didn’t buy the Note 3 before i leave Germany next month.

3 years 2 months ago

I will not buy ANY Samsung anymore.

3 years 2 months ago

I own an Apple iPhone4S and a Samsung Tab7.7. After seing Apple’s new devices and with my experience with the Samsung Tab7.7 I was already decided to buy a Note3. Due to biz I travel a lot in Europe, Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria, Venezuela, Brasil, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Sorry to say, but I will NOT buy three Note3, even financially it means peanuts for me.

3 years 2 months ago

Google Translate messed up the phone list. Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note are not included. It should be Note II instead of both these phones.

3 years 2 months ago

Well many ppl using Samsung devices have to travel and so often to far off countries. It’s good that I got to know it early, was planning Note 3. No Samsung device ever if this is true. Will switch from my Note 2 to Z1 I think.

There must be some genius there at Samsung camp who came up with such a dumb idea. Competition is getting fierce and they are trying hard to scare away even the most loyal of customers.

3 years 2 months ago

I preordered an AT&T Note 3. If this is true, I’ll return it. I won’t buy another Samsung phone even though my past experience was great with GS3 and Note 2. You can kiss my behind.

3 years 2 months ago

If you bought the phone from AT&T on contract, then your phone will be locked ANYWAY, and you would need an unlock code from AT&T to use it with another carrier. This issue is more for those who buy an unlocked device.

3 years 2 months ago

On Facebook Samsung Switzerland wrote something different. They state, that you only need to activate the device with a SIM card from your region and after that you can put in whatever SIM you like.

3 years 2 months ago

I purchase a Samsung Galaxy S3 I-9300 in June 2013 and just purchased a second one (different color) at the end of Aug 2013 there was no sticker on either box saying anything about being regional SIM locked. Both of these phones were purchased from German i.e. Media Markt and Saturn retail stores not an actual phone carrier i.e. Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile. So I don’t believe they are regional SIM locked. I will be traveling to the US in Jan 2014 and will no for sure then hopefully someone will post there findings earlier then this time frame I intend to travel.

3 years 2 months ago

If you update software by OTA for sure you will have Regional Lock.

3 years 2 months ago

Now what’s the panic? Retail units and those directly supplied to the market by Samsung are not affected. Besides, products affected will carry stickers on them to warn the customer. Just watch where you buy your stuff. That’s all.

3 years 2 months ago

Well done SAMSUNG!!!

I’m pretty sure it’s most effective when it comes to piss off your customers.