Wednesday , April 26 2017

Samsung’s new Region Locks apply only to first activation


As previously reported, in an attempt to stamp out “grey imports” of its devices, Samsung appears to have introduced a policy of region locking its phones.

The term “grey import” refers to the practice of purchasing a product overseas, usually online, then getting it shipped to you. If the value of the product is under $1000, you avoid any duty, sales tax, or GST in Australia, making the price much more attractive than if you were to buy from an Australian store.

We’ve seen that Galaxy Note 3 devices purchased from Europe and the Americas have stickers indicating that they are only compatible with a SIM card issued from carriers within the countries in the region in which they are supposed to be bought:



The text on these stickers implies that SIM cards from carriers outside of the listed areas won’t work at all in the devices, causing a furore online as travellers assumed that they wouln’t be able to swap SIM cards if they go overseas on a holiday or business trip.

New information indicates that the text is misleading. It seems that, as long as the phone is first activated with a SIM from within the Samsung-deemed “home region” of the device, users can then freely use SIM cards from other countries when abroad.

The Note 3 is the only device currently featuring this lock, although we’re also hearing that this will also apply to newly-produced Galaxy S4 devices. It is suspected that this policy will in the future be applied by Samsung to all of its phones, though Samsung phones from the Asia-Pacific region – including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Samsung’s homeland of South Korea – appear to be unaffected.

Samsung UK has released the following statement about the new practice:

“In order to provide customers with the optimal mobile experience in each region including customer care services, Samsung has incorporated the ‘regional SIM lock’ feature into Galaxy Note 3 devices. The product is only compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within the region identified on the sticker of the product package. When the device is activated with a SIM card issued from the other region, the device may be automatically locked until it is released at the dedicated service centre.

Once a device is activated normally, the regional SIM lock is automatically released. Users can enjoy the roaming service as usual and can use other region’s SIM card when travelling. The regional SIM lock has been applied to the Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S4 devices through a software update in selective markets. The regional SIM lock does NOT affect the device’s features and performance. Users can continue to enjoy all the advanced features of our products.”

What do you think of Samsung’s strategy? Will this affect you as an early adopter? Let us know in the comments.

Check out our range of Samsung GALAXY S4 accessories at the Ausdroid Shop.

Source: Gigaom.

Ausdroid Staff  

  • Paul Walker

    Shame Samsung Shame. Not as bad as first though but still a silly restriction.

    Presumably the overseas shippers will just start sending us phones with an equivalent of a local $2 SIM card so these can be unlocked.

    • JeniSkunk

      The overseas shippers can’t, unless the device is from the seller’s own region.
      Now since these grey market resellers are usually not Authorised Resellers, their stock won’t be form their own region. So they now also have to source viable SIMs to pre-Activate and unlock devices before shipping. And unless those SIMs work in the seller’s own region, the Region Lock will trigger.

      • Paul Walker

        You missed my point. The overseas source just needs to supply it with a SIM from market that the phone comes from. You can then insert that SIM, activate it and then put your Aussie SIM in and off you go. Presumably overseas markets have an equivalent of our $2 SIMs.

        • Dvash27

          But then you’re implying that the sim will work in Australia without activating a number with that service and also activating international roaming

          • Paul Walker

            I guess it depends on how much the SIM needs to do. If it’s as simple as the first SIM just needing to be from the correct region, that would be fine. If its as complex as actually being able to make a call, then yes, global roaming would need to be enabled and my idea becomes much less likely. In that case, the phone would need to be activated in the country of origin before being shipped to AU and we’d just have to get used to opened packages in return for lower prices.

          • Danny!

            As long as they supply sim cards that can be activated online, there’s no problem. When the sim is activated, the phone will know what telco it’s registered with without a data connection and roaming disabled (phone still connect to a network but bars calls, messages and data).

            The only problem would be if it does a check on what telco the sim tries to connect too, a roaming check if you will, but the problem with that is some people that live at a country border technically roams if the phone connects to a cell across the border which would make a lot of new note3 customers unhappy.

            Food for thought!

  • Eugene Kee

    Haha… What a joke Samsung!
    If you really think this will put an end to grey-imports, then you obviously don’t understand the buyers market.
    My prediction:
    based on a massive volume of negative feedback and complaints from customers worldwide, Samsung will ditch this stupid SIM-restriction before the Xmas season!

  • pete

    well I wasn’t planning to buy a Samsung device, but now I definitely won’t.

  • CatLovingMan

    It’s just like DVDs & regions. Bastards, let consumers do what they want!

  • Nikolas

    Let me get this straight, I have a Note 3 on pre-order with Harvey Norman. So next year when I fly over to Greece, the sim cards in Greece will not work on my Note 3?

    • Chris

      Go to the back of the room and put on the dunce hat.

      • Nikolas

        EDIT: Sorry.

        • Mike

          Read the article properly then!

          • Nikolas

            So I quickly read through and I missed the obvious. But there was no need to be a comedian about it at my expense.. I apologise for being vulgar.

    • Altechi

      Buy phone from Aus, put Aus Sim card FIRST during set up. Phone is unlocked for you to use anywhere

      • Nikolas

        Thanks mate 🙂

  • chris

    Actually you might find that it is illegal in this country to do so.

  • Skull

    Let me put this as eloquently as possible Samsung, SCREW YOU. I am currently one of your customers with a galaxy S3 (which has had ALL the internals replaced TWICE), and now you start this crap.
    Goodbye!!!!! I will comment with my wallet.

  • IanN

    If this is still in place when I buy my next phone, it will *not* be a Samsung.

  • joelcocks

    This is what happens when a company gets so big it thinks it can do anything and people will still buy their products.

  • twister286

    And with this, the Note 3 is off my shopping list. Goodbye Samsung!

  • Duncan_J

    Yep this is the last appleish move.

    My Samsung time line.
    5 years ago: sam who?
    4 years ago: Samsung yeah I’ve heard of them they make TV’s they’re from Korea can you trust the quality?

    3 years ago: wow this Samsung company is really pushing/ innovating(copying which ever) in my favorite tech areas (then Android and windows PC)

    2 years ago: Hey my new Samsung products (laptop & phone) are a little buggy ans they software finish is a little off (and latter the build quality started to fail)

    now: Samsung = apple without the premium long life sturdy construction good buy

    if only i could run Windows 7 (die windows8) on a macbook without middle ware

  • Gregorian

    A pain for Kogan, Mobicity and so forth.
    Importing those Vietnamese or Ukrainian versions will become tougher.

  • DarkRain

    I wonder if you can still buy the grey import and immediately flash an official Australian rom over it so that it can be unlocked by an Australian sim.

    • Gregorian


      Like a dodgy software CD from a weekend computer market.

Check Also

AOSP code suggests that the Google Pixel Phones Circa 2017 will sport Snapdragon 835 processors

The Google Pixel currently available is one hell of a phone and is still being …