We’ve all heard of region-locked DVD players and DVDs, but it turns out Samsung wants to introduce the same restrictions on its smartphones.
It all started with UK-based mobile retailer Clove detailing certain functionality limitations regarding SIM cards on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the newest iteration of Samsung’s popular phablet.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 box featured a sticker that said that the phone is only compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within Europe.
Following the disclosure, a number of customers shared images of the American box as well, that had a sticker which mentioned that the phone was compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within the Americas, including North, South and Central Americas and the Caribbean.
While phones sold by carriers under contracts are locked to prevent violations, it’s hard to understand why carrier-unlocked phones should come with regional restrictions except for preventing grey market imports and exports. But this also implies that customers would not be able to buy phones from other regions.
After widespread outrage, Samsung issued a statement to German website All About Samsung saying that the company is SIM-locking new devices including the Galaxy S III, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 Mini, and Galaxy Note 3 devices produced after the end of July 2013. It also clarifies that all these devices will sport a sticker indicating the same and that the region lock can be removed free of charge through a Samsung service partner if the device is used outside the region it’s meant for and has not been used with a local SIM of that region.
The statement doesn’t clarify if users will be able to use a local SIM-card when travelling outside their region, and it even mentions that international roaming services would work. However, developer Jan Ole Suhr tweeted about Samsung Germany clarifying that the region lock is automatically removed once a user plugs in the local SIM-card.
He also added that Samsung told him the region lock is for preventing cheap imports.
So far, there have been no reports of the Asian version of the Galaxy Note 3 being region locked.