Since last few days there has been wide spread rage over the internet, deeming Samsung as unethical for “Region SIM locking” its unlocked Galaxy Note 3’s in Europe and America. In simpler terms, this means that if you have bought an Unlocked Note 3 from Europe and America, you won’t be able to use them while traveling to other regions. This accusation is not entirely true and there is more to it.
The whole confusion started when people saw the label on seal of Note 3 boxes which made it abundantly clear that the device was only compatible with the SIM cards of the region they were bought in.
Truth is your phones will be SIM locked only when you run the initial setup with a SIM from a foreign region. That implies that if you run the initial Set-up on the device with a local SIM then your phone won’t be locked even if you insert a foreign SIM while on the move. So now you just have to take that initial precaution. Once you run the local SIM, the SIM lock will be disabled permanently.
SIM locking and Region Locking is different. Carriers lock the SIM cards so that you cannot use SIM from any other service providers during contract period. This SIM lock is relatively easier to break and is a customary practice. The Region Lock runs deeper and is based on Mobile Country Code (MCC).
Samsung issued an official statement accepting that it has been Region Locking phones including Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 Mini, Galaxy Note2 and Note 3 manufactured after July 2013. This practice has been adopted to discourage grey marketing practices where by vendors buy products from cheaper markets and sell them off in expensive ones.
So most users will be safe from this Regional lock anyways, and if you are about to switch on your Note 3 or any other Samsung high end smartphone, just make sure that the first SIM is a local SIM. Once the starting Set-up runs on Local recognized SIM, the SIM lock will be disabled and you won’t have to worry about it again, even when you do a Factory Reset on your device. If you have already tried a foreign SIM and your device is locked, there is a simple solution. A local Samsung service center will be able to fix it for you.
The Region SIM locking isn’t as bad as it might seem at first. Many users won’t like their freedom curtailed in such manner and many wouldn’t care. In some markets you can’t get a carrier unlocked version and the only solution, if you desire one, is to import it from other markets. This move from Samsung will mostly affect such consumers in a negative way.