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Customer Review

65 of 98 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Phone seems great BUT ALL THESE Samsung NOTE 3 are region locked and not unlocked even for sim free versions, 28 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Smartphone - Black (Office Product)
Amazon needs to put a warning on all these sim free unlocked samsung galaxy note 3 phones being sold with a clear warning that THESE PHONES ARE REGION LOCKED EVEN IF YOU PAID AND BOUGHT A SUPPOSEDLY SIM FREE UNLOCKED PHONE. This phone will come with a sticker on the box clearly stating that it is region locked and will not work with other sims. THIS SHOULD CLEARLY BE STATED IN ALL ADVERTISING FOR THIS PHONE AND IN PRODUCT DESCRIPTION ON ALL LISTINGS (ALL COLOURS) FOR THIS PRODUCT.

Many buyers arent aware but I will discourage anyone asking me whether to buy this phone because of this region locking. Hence posted amazon review so that any prospective buyer thinking of buying this is aware of this issue and makes an informed choice. If people buy this even after knowing about this issue then its their choice. But many others might not want to buy because of this issue.

Phone seems great BUT PLEASE NOTE ALL THESE Samsung NOTE 3 are region locked meaning you cannot use your foreign sim in it if you are buying from outside the EU. You will need to go to a samsung centre to get it unlocked and have a local region activated please note they activate another local region and not a global region. It is atrocious for a company to even think of region locking a sim free phone bought at full price. They even region lock the phone bought at the official samsung store in London!! All phones bought in the EU, USA, South America seem to be affected. The exynos octcore version doesnt seem to be affected (asian version with lower specs), only snapdragon version is affected. Many websites like Clove (global sellers of various mobile phones) have stopped global sales of this phone consequently as per the website posts and selling to only EU customers with a warning about sim restrictions for this phone. See same warnings on some other independent sellers websites.

What does this mean?
This means that when you travel abroad and use a local sim you will get a sim lock pop up asking for code even when you bought a sim free phone and local carriers are asking for more money to unlock your already unlocked phone. This is wrongful selling of a locked product when there are locks on its use in various regions. Although some facebook and twitter samsung officials have said that first if you activate your phone in the region it is bought in and then use a foreign sim it will work. But many users have found it to be not true, see various posts on the links given by me where users who have followed that procedure have still been asked for unlock codes of their unsubsidised unlocked phones! If you put another region sim in first you will have to take it to a samsung centre to get it unlocked for use elsewhere or pay roaming charges on your EU sim and use it abroad with permanent restriction on foreign use of another sim card unless unlocked by local samsung centre.

Read this massive thread at XDA developers forum [...] for this phone discussing this problem where many have posted emails / tweets / facebook chats and facebook posts by various samsung officials and also read posts on ukmobilereview blog posts and several comments on two of the posts regarding this regional locking of even sim free (non subsidised phones) [...]

Samsung UK confirming to me on twitter that phone is region locked and will be unable to use foreign sim. link with extract posted on the xda forums thread linked above.

Although some samsung facebook people have commented that once you put local sim (first sim in phone) then phone is unlocked globally, this is untrue as many users on xda and other websites like ukmobilereviews have mentioned in comments that their phones are still region locked and cant use foreign sim during travel and forced to use roaming data. If you put non region sim first time them phone gets locked needing visit to samsung centre to unlock. Carriers are asking for more money to unlock a phone sold as unlocked! Plus note xda forum posts by people in netherland that samsung help lines have told them that even if unlocked it will only work for 14days and then back to square one.

This is a business phone at the very high end of the market and they region lock a phone sold as supposedly unlocked phone. This uncalled for deceptive behavior restricting comsumer rights and forcing people to use roaming charges instead of local sim while travelling abroad. If you travel frequently or even otherwise then this phone will seriously affect due to higher phone bills with roaming charges for cals, messages and data due to the problems with regional locking.

Because Samsung regional locked this supposedly sim free unlocked phone, I am locking my wallet to any future Samsung phone till they stop this atrocious practise. Vote with your wallets!

Please read the xda developers forums posts via the link for this issue and also read reviews for the white version where problems have been posted. This phone is nice till you go out of the EU on holiday when courtesy of samsung you get scr3w3d even though you bought a sim free unsubsidised phone.

Edit- some one at amazon has deleted the links to the threads on XDA developers forums pointing out the regional lock and discussion about it. Looks like commercial considerations are coming into the picture and amazon instead of putting warnings that these are region locked handsets they are deleting links pointing out the proof that these are region locked hand sets. Any one can buy this and verify for yourself at your own risk or write to Samsung as I have on Twitter and others have on face book and find out yourself. If you don't believe me then go to any store and ask to see the box before buying this it will have a label saying region locked. This is true for both UK and USA versions and south america versions.

Edit 2-
Please see comments section for examples of where the samsung 'recommended unlock procedure' not working for people who bought the phone

edit 3- my twitter question to samsungUK and their reply confirming other sim will not work. see proof on my twitter channel "@bubblesmoney"
see samsungUK official twitter channel tweeting a reply to me on the 26th sept 2013 on this link (link will probably get deted by some amazon official but you can search twitter. Please see my query the previous day and their reply copied below. You can see the entire conversation on the link

my query to them on twitter
"bubblesmoney ‏ @bubblesmoney 25 Sep @SamsungmobileUK will the note 3 bought in the UK contract free work with sims from USA and asia while travelling. Please confirm sim block!"

and see that the reply is from the official samsungUK twitter channel. They clearly say other sims from outside region will not work.

see quote

Samsung Mobile UKVerified account
‏ @SamsungmobileUK
@bubblesmoney Unfortunately no, due to different bands used in connection and frequencies."

middle east model sim lock photo

Eu model sim lock photo

usa model sim lock photo
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Showing 11-20 of 37 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 29 Sep 2013 11:50:37 BDT
I See U says:
I think that Samsung is setting themselves up for failure by this illadviced region locking business. I was about to order the phone but now I cant. Thanks for the info.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Sep 2013 15:55:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 Sep 2013 17:53:50 BDT
yes thats why i posted the info, i was about to order the phone too and accidentally saw the photos of the region locking labels for the uk model on the clove blog & sim locking warning on the clove website and later saw the USA model region locking labels on the xda website. After reading about it I decided not to buy this gimped phone. Looks like samsung is now doing the region locking for many other existing phones being sold now too. Please see the region locking UK label on this link from the clove website and the usa model region locking label on this link from androidcentral website Hopefully some amazon employee wont delete these links again as they deleted the xda links and ukmobilerview blog links on my main post. I posted the links so that customers can see the evidence of region locking for themselves when some others on here seem to be giving information that you can unlock it, when there are many posts to the contrary on xda forums from people affected in many countries.

see samsung germanay statement translation extract from this link where you can see more info but their statement is
" essential points from Samsung's official statement (original in German):

Samsung does lock some devices based on the region where they were purchased from. These devices are, besides the Note 3: Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S4, and Galaxy S4 Mini.
The region lock only affects units manufactured after the end of July 2013, that ship with the warning sticker on the box. Devices that have already been delivered, like those sitting in warehouses or in stores are not region locked.
If a user takes a new phone that hasn't been yet activated to a country outside the home region, the user can unlock the phone at a local Samsung service partner for free."
here is just one of the many posts confirming that their suggested permanent unlock method isnt working

see other extracts of customers reporting their phone being locked for foreign sim cards even though they followed the samsung facebook mentioned permanent unlocking procedure, which shows that samsung facebook posts are misleading.

Originally Posted by gfung View Post
After reading the tests from ukmobilereviews, I went to a local phone4u shop, showing it to the sales .
He was kind enough to open a brand new jet black note 3 , put his vodaphone sim card in it and make a phone called with it.
Afterward put my Hong Kong sim card which have roaming services in the note 3, the phone is still locked, asking for unlock code.
Very frustrated

Originally Posted by Huxflux View Post
Ok, so today i went to the store here in sweden where they had preactivated the phone with a swedish simcard, i put my thai simcard in only to see the unlock screen again. They been told by samsung sweden that i should work... I put the thaisimcard in my S3 just to show that it was working. They offered to send the imei to a samsung center for trying to unlocking it, but i rejected it, want to wait for a official samsung statement thats declare whats what...

To bad, cause I was realy looking forward to have this phone

Originally Posted by flygaren View Post
Ok, So here is my story.
I am currently in Sweden work but in Thailand. So this would be a definite deal breaker for me when i heard about it.
Either way I tried "activating" it with a swedish sim before popping in the Thai Sim. Didn't work.
Then I read somewhere that the phone needed to be used with at least three different base stations with the swedish sim before accepting the thai one. OK said and done, I took the car for a long drive and made numerous phone calls before trying the sim card again, still didn't work.
Tried the russian site, got a code. Entered the code and presto. It accepted the sim without fuss. Tried a hard reset and its still ok. Admittedly I haven't tried to make any phone calls with the thai sim yet as I am not in Thailand. But I will report back once I do on tuesday.

see link for one more example of a middle east bought phone activated with local sim but not working with asian sim

please see another example of person using uk bought phone with uk sim and later australian sim not working with it on this link

Posted on 29 Sep 2013 20:15:45 BDT
also see
The company clarifies exactly which devices fall under this restriction, explaining, "the regional SIM card lock only affects the following Samsung models that are produced from the end of July 2013, and provided with a corresponding sticker: Samsung GALAXY S III, II, GALAXY Note, GALAXY S4, S4 GALAXY mini and the GALAXY Note 3"

also see the register

Posted on 30 Sep 2013 13:50:03 BDT
Onweel2 says:
And this the prove about Region lock still go on

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Sep 2013 20:07:21 BDT
Martin says:
Samsung don't "cover" your product if you bought it in the EU either. Your warranty is provided, by law, by the retailer, not by the manufacturer.

Posted on 1 Oct 2013 10:43:06 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Oct 2013 10:54:54 BDT
i will keep updating the links in my amazon review comments for more evidence of the region lock blocking people using their phone during international travel for local sim forcing them to use costly roaming charges.

here are some more links in case anyone plan on writing an updated review. looks like that are planning on blocking all old phones sold already with the kitkat update (many models including s4, s3, note 3, note3, mini models etc), see links

EU model activated with german sim does not work with thai card

EU model activated with netherland sim later does not work with thai sim

forthcoming kikat update will block all existing samsung phones sold already for many models!!!!

EU model activated with swedish sim does not work with thai sim but later russian unlocking site sells unlock code for 25$ supposedly and it works and later flashed with rooted rom and it works in thailand

EU model bought and activated in UK later does not work with egypt sim during vacation forcing costly roaming charges

EU model bought and activated in germany does not work with thai sim in thailand during travel

reasons for concerns for users why it will be very costly in futurer for any samsung customer that travels on holidays abroad

Posted on 1 Oct 2013 11:54:37 BDT
extract from another affected customers experience with samsung blocking

"I have third hand experience of this. One of my friends, a British
citizen, bought a Note 3 from the Samsung Store at the launch event in
London last week. He activated the phone with the guy in the store (who
made no mention of this region lock) using his UK Three sim card and
everything was fine. I saw the phone and it looked lovely and worked

Then on Saturday, he travelled to Hong Kong on business, as he often
does, and put his HK sim card in the phone. It wouldn't work and
required a password. He messaged me yesterday to tell me about it and up
to that point was completely unaware that the device was region locked
and isn't the sort of chap to go out of his way to look up news about
Android devices anyway; he just wants a phone that works as a business
device 'out of the box' (his words).

Now the issue is, he is out in HK for a month with a brick in his
suitcase that he can't use and no way for his clients and colleagues in
HK to contact him unless he either buys a local phone and puts his sim
in it, or pays for the extortionate roaming charges from the UK. To say
he is annoyed would be an understatement. He will be returning the
device to the store when he gets back to the country and claim that the
device was sold under false pretences (i'm sure he can work out exactly
what to say).

He had a few Samsung devices, which is why he went for the Note 3,
but now he wants to divest himself of all of them following the news
that this region lock will be rolled out to more than just the Note 3 in
an update.

This has also stopped me from buying one too as I was going to
replace my old SGS2 with it as, like him, I frequently travel abroad for
protracted period on business. I hope Samsung burn for this" see the post on trusted reviews comments posted just now."

Posted on 1 Oct 2013 12:08:56 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Oct 2013 12:10:29 BDT
ONE more link :) and extract
"I am on trip from europe to Thailand via Dubai.
I try my new S4 on Hamburg airport with Dubai prepayd card and phone ask me about unlocking code, I try TrueMove Thailand card and this same question about unlocking code . I put german Vodafone card it works and first card inside was Orange Poland card. brand new phone from Orange Poland shop they told is sim lock free but reality is different. I make chat with Samsung Polska and have answer 'this phone is for european market only he will accept only european cards he will not work with another continent sim cards.
Screen print from chat (remove sapace from link) : " from

Numerous posts showing that samsung statements to various websites are misleading at the very least.

Posted on 2 Oct 2013 15:17:04 BDT can unlock the device for 20$ and it will work with an SIM card anywhere in the world.

Posted on 2 Oct 2013 17:52:55 BDT
Onweel2 says:
And this the comment form CLOVE UK

"Josh Bethell says:

October 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm

A quick thank you from everyone at Clove for the level of understanding in this comment thread and the odd customer testimony too!

This is undoubtedly a huge frustration - sure we've lost sales which no business enjoys; however it's the confusion and extra work this has caused which compounds things. There have been industry mutterings reported by some news sites that this type of behaviour could be in the works from major manufacturers. It is pretty upsetting though that it was not communicated to us and other retailers fully until the procedure was finalised, orders had been placed and stock arrived.

We hate disappointing our customers, which in this case we've had to do many times over by cancelling and refunding orders, in some cases to long standing and valued international clients.

By the end of this week we should have a definitive update on the situation. We sent a Note 3 to offsite colleague Wardy in Thailand last week. He activated this there with a UK SIM. He could roam on the UK SIM but could not use his local Thai SIM, seeing the unlock SIM screen before he could proceed.

We have since sent UK activated handsets to a few choice customers this week, on the basis that they can return them if they do not work with their local SIMs. These customers are in regions that include Africa, North America and the Middle East.

Regardless of information from Samsung or anecdotes on forums and other blogs, we are conducting our own research on this, at our own costs, to cover all the bases.

Especially now we are also beginning to see other Samsung devices (new stock of the S4 & S4 Mini) with the same restrictions and warning stickers on the packaging. We want to be 100% certain of the message we give out to anyone wanting to purchase a new Samsung device and provide any support we can to legitimate international clients
You can see that he being test already what Samsung say is not correct.