Samsung has started locking its Android smartphones, built after the end of July 2013, to their respective home continents. So far the new practice has been confirmed for Europe and America (read South, North and Central, including the Caribbean).
Each device will come with a sticker in the retail package, indicating the region it can be used in.
The information became public primarily through UK retailer Clove which reported that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 units it received came with a warning that they are locked regionally.
Samsung Germany issued an official statement, which shines some light on the new policy. Only devices produced after the end of July 2013 are SIM locked to their region and it refers to the Samsung Galaxy S III, S II, S4, S4 mini, Note and Note 3. The lock lets you freely travel across the whole continent – a device purchased in Europe will work in all European countries, for example. However, according to the warning stickers you can’t use those with a SIM card issued from an Asian, African, Australian or American carrier.
If a device is purchased in one region but hasn’t being activated before being exported, you will be able to get it unlocked through a Samsung service partner.
The SIM lock uses an MCC (Mobile Country Code) lock method and is done through the CSC’s (Customer Software Customization) whitelist of countries. Removing the lock yourself will most probably be enabled later on but will almost certainly end up voiding your precious warranty.
Despite official information on the new policy Samsung does not address the reason behind it. Why is it doing it? It might be an attempt to try and prevent retailers importing devices from different continents, but it’s the customers who travel a lot that will end up suffering because of it. Not quite ideal, if you ask us.