Samsung’s Regional SIM-Lock: The Stupidest Thing Ever?

Recently, some very bad news broke from which purported that the European Galaxy Note 3 will not work with non-European SIM cards. Since then we’ve heard from a statement issued to that this regional lock will effect almost all newly manufactured modern Samsung devices: Samsung GALAXY S III, II, GALAXY Note, GALAXY S4, S4 GALAXY mini and the GALAXY Note 3.

Galaxy Note 3 Regional SIM Lock

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that this is not only ridiculous, but potentially suicidal for Samsung. The Galaxy Note 3 is set up to work perfectly well with the whole spectrum of modern mobile frequencies so what on earth can Samsung hope to gain by doing this?

Do they expect people who enjoy travel, or who have to travel for business (one of Samsung’s key audiences when launching the Note range) to purchase a new phone for every area they travel to? Are Samsung really so skint that they have to bow to the will of network providers who want to make extra money from roaming charges? I fail to see how Samsung would benefit from that at all, apart perhaps from with their own “AnyCall” network in South Korea. Last time I checked, however, they were doing pretty damned well on the money side of things so surely, this can’t be the reason?

Well, fortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case. A small glimmer of hope shines on the horizon from Samsung Switzerland. They made a statement on their Facebook page that you only need to activate the device with a regional SIM card, and then you can use it anywhere else in the world. However, they since backtracked somewhat and given a more vague answer… we’ll update as soon as we know more.


“When you purchase the GALAXY Note 3 you must initially use a Swiss SIM card. After that, SIM cards from other operators from Europe and outside of Europe can be used.”

It also transpires, from an official statement from Samsung Germany, that you can activate your Galaxy device at a Samsung partner even if you are using it outside the specified region. For free.


Could it be that Samsung is trying to discourage different ‘versions’ of the same device being exported and enjoyed around the world? This must be ever so frustrating from them, right? It’s certainly true that some people are making a little bit of money by exporting a superior version of the same device while Samsung distribute watered down versions of the ‘same device’ everywhere else …hmm…..? Well, I’ve got a much better solution for you, Samsung: stop making different versions!! Even an attempt to stop the distribution of grey-imports which seek to profit from global price differences seems futile here – as all the exporter has to do is stick a local SIM-card in before shipping the device, or even simply provide a free-SIM card along with it.

All that can be achieved by this is disgruntled, alienated and confused customers. Large companies should not tell people what they can and can’t do with a device they’ve invested a small fortune in, and absolutely *never* force them to have to abide to their rules. I’ve been impressed Samsung’s attempts to push boundaries with their technology and to keep customers wowed and impressed. Sure, I’ve had my quibbles with the way a few things have been done; but at the end of the day it’s hard not to be impressed with the Galaxy range and what it has achieved for both mobile hardware and software. Please Samsung… don’t give people reasons not to buy things from you. This move is stupid… it’s not doing you or your customers any favours. Nothing positive will be gained from this choice and I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping that this is just a bad dream I am about to wake up from!

 What do you all think? Are you angry about this, happy [shame on you!] or confused? Let us know in the comments below.

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3 years 5 months ago

I have a 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 n Germany.

3 years 5 months ago

If this is true then I’m never gonna buy Samsung phones again. I have the S3 and was planning on buying the S5 but if Samsung put SIM-lock on the device I will NEVER buy it!!! :(

3 years 6 months ago

Corporations seem to forget that its the tech people in each family in each group of friends who are the real influence in regards to what gets purchased.

Like Microsoft had to find out, RT tablets didn’t sell to all those inept people they were hoping to gain as customers, cause everybody has someone in the family who warns them if something is a turd.

Nobody in my entire family is going to buy another Samsung phone at this point.

3 years 6 months ago


… is very stupid from samsung, lets think if dual-mode LTE Galaxy S4 and S4 Mini and S4-advanced will be regional SIM-Locked, then why samsung create this model ? … :)

3 years 6 months ago

All you guys seriously need to read the article properly before having a hissy fit.

“When you purchase the GALAXY Note 3 you must initially use a Swiss SIM card. After that, SIM cards from other operators from Europe and outside of Europe can be used.”

It clearly states that once its been used with a sim from the correct market the restriction will be removed. All this is intended for is to simply try and iron out all the major suppliers of grey stock from the wrong regions.

3 years 6 months ago

I’ve been buying factory unlocked Galaxy phones since the S1,all the way to the S4 I’m using right now. I won’t use a carrier branded phone unless it’s obligatory.

I pay extra money for the benefits that a factory unlocked galaxy used to bring like no bloat ware and fastest updates.

If samsung continues locking it’s devices I will NOT buy anymore from them.

3 years 6 months ago

please update your article and nice way to write an article headline about samsung i swear some of these writers for sammobile probably are apple fans in sheep’s clothing (sorry for the pun lol)

3 years 6 months ago

They are not only doing this but for the dev community who like to utilise their phones to the fullest they are locking down the system with a new bootloader for the Galaxy S4 and KNOX… In essence it locks down the system files so no app can write to system… Sound like some other company we know and despise?
Locking a phone to a region is just sheer stupidity, even if it is unlockable with with a same region sim card.
Why are you driving your hardcore fans away? I’m sure you are gonna receive a buttload of flack from this. Might be what you need to make you listen to what your customers want and expect from a device “I” purchased and am supposed to own….

3 years 6 months ago

The sticker is clear, you can’t use a non-European SIM. It also means you can’t buy a phone as a present for someone outside Europe. I can’t see any reason to buy a crippled phone, it’s called a “mobile” phone for a good reason. But not now.

Goodbye Samsung, hello Sony? LG? HTC?

3 years 6 months ago

Just Writing to say goodbye to samsung, because i will not be buying samsung anymore since reading this. My brother wants a Note 3 or xperia Z, and also will recomend him to get the Z. I think Samsung will be loosing a lot of users if they continue doing this.

3 years 6 months ago

What could Samsung POSSIBLY gain from this. WHAT THE _____!!!!!!
I most likely won’t be getting a the N9005 from the start due to LTE frequency compatibility in Canada, but still, this is not right.

3 years 6 months ago

I can’t see, that it is a problem… unless you are parallel importing.

3 years 6 months ago

Ditto, it is huge. It means I can’t use my legally purchased unlocked phone with a local SIM, or buy a phone a gift for someone outside Europe. It is no longer a “mobile” phone.

2 years 2 months ago

You can buy a phone as a gift as long as you activate the phone with local sim card. Just put in your own sim card and start the phone.
I used my Note 3 Bought in Sweden in El Salvador with Local Digicel Sim card. Everything worked perfect. Even had 4G network. :)

3 years 6 months ago

This is big!. you will not be able to travel across continents and just exchange SIM’s. And many of us, buy european/international versions since US versions are crippled/limited in functions, and slow to update. Also, a few countries don’t get some samsung devices, and that means, it will be a problem to get them online.
in my case, samsung devices are so expensive in my country that i prefer to boy them online. even con contract, they cost you more than the unlocked versions online in many cases. So yes, this is a BIG problem.

3 years 6 months ago

Well, this has stopped me from considering to get the S5 when it comes out, think I’ll go back to one of the other companies, maybe HTC or take the plunge and get an LG; like Sony — because of the debacle that was the SEXX10 w/ Android 2.1, when they said it was going to release with 2.2, and then didn’t want to update it to the latest version until public outcry, because Sony’s thing is, if you want the update, buy new hardware — Samsung is going to be dropped by me, never to use one of their phones again unless this policy gets scrapped, but even then, I doubt I would go back.

3 years 6 months ago

If Samsung goes ahead with this experiment sectarian and exclusionary, my Galaxy S4 will be my last smartphone Samsung … Hello HTC, or any similar phone Google.

3 years 6 months ago

Not that sammy cares, I posted this on their FB page.

Open Letter to Samsung.

I bought my current phone, a Galaxy Note 1, in late 2011. Why? Because I wanted the big screen & S-pen. I purchased it OFF CONTRACT, full price from Germany, for use in the United States. Why? Because I didn’t want a carrier locked, feature crippled, bloated device! I use between 1200-1500 minutes just on the phone alone, with well over 100 apps. I was anticipating the Galaxy Note 3, until today I learn that the devices are now REGION LOCKED. If I want one, off contract, I will have to purchase an at&t device, which will most likely have some features removed, will be loaded with bloatware, and will not have the same user experience that the pure Samsung device will have. Therefore, I will take it upon myself to purchase a different device, from another manufacturer, and will encourage others on technology boards to do the same. People are tired of purchasing devices only from carriers (at least in the USA) that are crippled of normally included features, so you will use the carrier provided features, which of course COST MORE, than the normally included features. Perhaps if enough of us, use our money, and purchase other devices, you will eventually change your policy of region locking devices.
Perhaps a Google Nexus5, HTC 1 Max or other 5″ “phablet” will suit my needs, but I can tell you now, a region locked Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is NOT in my immediate future!

3 years 6 months ago


3 years 6 months ago

Not really. This way we will not see overseas Samsung products sold on EBay with $100-$300 more expensive or more cheap. I like this idea.