The unlocked version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3
will be a regionally-locked device, forcing the owner to activate the device in the area it has been assigned to. Though the phablet will be usable with any carrier based in the defined region, owners traveling to other continents may not be able to use local SIMs to save money without first activating the Note 3 in its home region, and potentially not at all.
A sticker for the European model spotted by Clove
states that the smartphone is "only compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within Europe," as well as a short list of non-European Economic Area countries. A similar sticker for North American versions found by the XDA-Developers forum
has a similar warning, advising it as only usable with SIMs from carriers based in "the North, South, and Central Americas and the Caribbean."
At first glance, these stickers suggest that the phone will only work with carriers in its designated region, opening up the possibility that they will not be able to use local SIMs in other regions, and are instead forced to pay the roaming charges of one of their home networks instead.
A statement issued from Samsung's German division, received by AllAboutSamsung.de
, states that the manufacturer has been region-locking devices manufactured after July 2013, though none of these devices have been shipped as of yet. The statement appears to state that the region lock will only exist on the Galaxy Note 3 until it has been activated on a carrier in the appropriate region, and can then later be used with non-region SIM cards. If a user takes a device with a region lock to a different region without activating it, they will be able to unlock it via a "local Samsung service partner." The Galaxy S 4, Galaxy S III, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note, and the Galaxy S4 Mini are all said to be covered by the same region lock scheme.
If the regional locking is only in place before the Note 3 is activated, the locking appears to be a way for Samsung to control the regional roll-out of its smartphones, and deterring possible gray market imports.
Samsung in the United States has been contacted for a further clarification of the sticker's meaning.