The Galaxy Note 3 was the first Samsung device that came with what became known as the region lock, which made it necessary to use the device in the region it was purchased from with a local SIM for the first time before it could be used on networks in another region. Done to curb grey imports that plague the smartphone market, the region lock became a nuisance for consumers who had imported or bought a Galaxy Note 3 outside of their home country or region, and as a result, there was a considerable outcry against it in the days following the Note 3’s launch worldwide. Sadly, anyone who had expected Samsung to listen to consumers and remove region locking altogether will be disappointed, as the company has actually made it even more complicated on its latest flagship. With the Galaxy Note 3, all a user had to do was turn on the phone with a local SIM for the first time and use it normally for five minutes before the lock was removed. On the Galaxy S5, the requirement has been increased – a user must now make phone calls for five minutes before, for example, a European Galaxy S5 will be unlocked for use in the U.S. or another region. Here’s the official warning found on the Galaxy S5 box in Europe:
European Model: This product should be activated with a SIM card issued from a mobile operator within Europe. (as defined EU/EEA, Switzerland and the following Non-EEA countries Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M), Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia and Vatican City.) To use SIM cards from other regions, a cumulative call over five minutes must first be made with the SIM card from European operators.
This should make it harder for grey importers to get around the region lock, but it also makes things more difficult for consumers who will be paying their hard-earned cash to buy a Galaxy S5. Samsung support should still be able to help consumers remove the region lock for free, and the community will likely find a way around it as well, but for now, it seems the best thing to do is not get a Galaxy S5 from another region, or better yet, not buy the device at all until Samsung stops making decisions that affect consumers negatively.
UPDATE – Official statement Samsung
We incorporated a Regional SIM Lock feature into select Galaxy devices to provide customers with an optimal mobile experience in each region including customer care, localized content and services as well as dedicated warranty service.
This means that the initial activation of these devices should be made with a SIM card issued from a mobile operator within the region identified on the sticker of the product package.
Once a device is activated with a SIM card from the same region indicated on the device package, and the cumulative call time is over five minutes, the Regional SIM Lock is automatically and permanently released.
Please note that the Regional SIM Lock does not affect any of the device’s features or performance including global roaming service. After the Regional SIM Lock is released properly, users can use other region’s SIM card anywhere, without restrictions.