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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 full range of Samsung GALAXY S4 accessories at the Ausdroid Shop.

Source: Gigaom.
Companies: Samsung
Devices: Galaxy Note 3, and Galaxy S4