Galaxy Note 3 SIM lock

European SM-N9005 and Latin American SM-N900 locked to SIMs from their respective regions

Update: Check our breakdown of exactly what's going on with region-locking on the Note 3 for more details.

Here's some alarming news for those wanting to pick up an unlocked, SIM-free Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and use it internationally. Reports have been surfacing over the past day from Note 3 owners in Europe and Latin America that their devices come with stickers warning that they're only compatible with SIMs from their particular regions.

Like many others, our European Galaxy Note 3 box is sealed with a sticker saying it's "only compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within Europe," before going on to list individual countries. And while we were able to load a T-Mobile USA SIM into our UK-specific phone without any error messages, enough other "unlocked" Note 3 owners are reporting problems to indicate a widespread issue.

Users on the XDA forums are reporting SIM lock-style restrictions on both the unlocked European LTE Note 3 (SM-N9005) and unlocked Latin American HSPA+ Note 3 (SM-N900) when used with SIMs from outside their approved regions. Using a Vodafone UK SIM in the American Note 3 produces a SIM lock screen, one poster writes. Nirave Gondhia from UK Mobile Review reports that his UK Note 3 refuses to accept SIM cards from the U.S., United Arab Emirates or Singapore. Curiously, it appears the lock doesn't apply to the Asia/Pacific version of the phone.

In practical terms, this means if you travel outside of the phone's intended market — for example, using your Euro Note 3 in Asia — you'll be forced to keep your European SIM in place and use an expensive roaming plan, as the option of popping in a local SIM is eliminated. That could be a major inconvenience (and expense) if you're a frequent traveler. However roaming between countries within each region — for example, using a Note 3 purchased in the UK with a French SIM — shouldn't be affected by this regional SIM lock.

It's unclear why this restriction is in place; the Note 3 is the first "unlocked" handset we're aware of that's actually locked to specific countries. We've got emails out to Samsung seeking further clarification, but in the meantime you may want to hold off buying a Note 3 if you plan on using outside its intended target market.


Reader comments

Some 'unlocked' Galaxy Note 3s apparently SIM-locked to specific regions


Everybody travels, you don't know if for vacation or work, If you invest 800$ on some device "Unlocked" is to be able to use with an local sim where you visit (more practical coz LD Calls use to be thru skype or similar, and local calls are for service, emergency and local contacts)

Everybody travels

That's a dumb thing to say, this issue will in no way affect every single person that buys this phone.

I think it's more due to carrier "interference," than Samsung removing a feature from the handset, in my opinion.

Posted via Android Central App

Where would carriers get involved in such a decision?
When the phone isn't purchased through a carrier, I don't see why they would be given a say, as they have no economic interest after the sale.

This is something that Samsung cooked up all by themselves.

Why *wouldn't* carriers get involved... if forces you to use your phone on roaming charges / plans -- more money, more money, more money.

(not saying I support it, just saying that it is very much a carrier-centric decision)

Not really, because now I am the local carrier that wants you to use his SIM card.. So it is also in the carriers interest that it works the other way. I guess depending on the carrier

Posted via Android Central App

While what your saying does make some sense you have to think about how much money they make in each instance. The carriers make much much more money off of international roaming charges using ones regular carrier than they do a prepaid account for that week or two a person buying a local SIM. The difference is so large that ppl go through the trouble of getting a local SIM to use right, so it's obvious the carrier makes a lot more if ppl roam using their regular carrier.

I'm not sure, they could even be called or considered "unlocked," anymore, if this scenario becomes par-for-the-course.

Posted via Android Central App

some brands just don't quite grasp the concept of "globalisation". whilst some brilliant people work hard to develop universal systems such as GSM others go out of their way to annoy people unnecessarily.

Savvy and True. I'm pity about Samsung falling to the Dark side of the Anti-Freedom Lobby, this is absurd, and will cost to samsumg a BIG LESSON. I Was Ready to Order an Note 3, this axed this for a While, I'm not a frequernt traveler but when I vacaton I like to travel with my phone and use a local SIM and a local phone number, that makes every thing more easy not only saves money, local contact use to be by phone calls, while long distance home contact I use to do thru SKYPE and similar.

Not good news, I pre ordered the Note 3 and I'm leaving the country next month wtf

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I have been with AT&T long enough that it rarely has been an issue to get the unlock code quickly after receiving the phone. I do a lot of business travel and if it is unable to be unlocked, I don't want it. Hope that's clearer.

Maybe it's to prevent grey-market sales of phones. That's the only thing I've read that makes any sense.

Even if that's the case, they'll likely lose more sales with this idiotic lock in place as customers won't buy the phone.

God, when will manufacturers get it?

I hope the customers can punish them for such stupidity. just go with other brand this time.

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Unfortunately, there is not much the customer can or will do, since most don't travel outside the region they bought in.

What is needed is for the EU to step in and outlaw this practice.

(Note that I have no hopes of the US saying word one about this)>.

Well most phones from overseas don't work on our LTE networks anyway and T-MO's HSPA has gotten slower for me in recent months. I considered quite a few phones from Huawei and Oppo but lack of LTE was a deal breaker. NOT that I'm defending our government but not many people actually buy phones from overseas.

Why would you get the T-Mobile unlocked version instead of at&t? AT&T's has Bands 2, 4, 5 and 17 while T-MO's only has band 4.

makes no sense and this could be a reason why many stay away from, what looks like, a great device. i travel out of the country/region about once a year so not too big a deal but it still makes me unsure about getting the GNote3.

The thread over on XDA is growing rather quickly. People are rather upset and I would be too If I had pre-ordered one of these.

Scumbags!!! I hope everyone stops ordering these type of phones so the dumba$$ manufacturers get the message!!!

This is an "interesting" step by Samsung. Since it is impossible to buy an unlocked, unbranded Sammie device in the US (all of them are sold through carriers - with branding and restrictions) and they work against hardware standardization (different CPU/GPU depending on market, changes that make different version ROM incompatible etc), I have already ditched them.

This make it even more obvious that it is time to switch to different brands and also learn the concept of buying devices from independent retailers, not the carriers.

Since a couple of Samsung devices are grey imported into different countries where carrier branding is the standard modus operandi, it is clear why there is an interest in this kind of restriction. Samsung USA "looses" together with the carriers when I buy an imported device from Europe through an independent store. Time to stop this "immoral" behavior!

I am not going to buy any Samsung product from now on as long as this practice goes on. Knox is another reason to avoid them, btw.

This is going to suck big time for the travelers like myself... Don't see why Samsung is going this direction.

Posted via Android Central App

There are many third-party services that unlock phones with a code. I'm not gonna spam for them here (try ebay), but I would hope that this issue is only with the phones that are purchased in a locked state. Hopefully this code-method of unlocking bypasses and overrides any regional limitation.

I hope someone here gives it a try and let's us know. Though I guess we will have to wait for you to leave your region to test it out. I have my money ready for a Canadian contract Note 3 that I plan on taking with me when vacationing in Europe, after unlocking with a code. This would be a deal-breaker.

While I don't do any international traveling, if Samsung doesn't reverse their decision, I will DEFINITELY not be purchasing a GN3 or any other Samsung device. The Nexus 5 will probably be my new phone.

Bad move on Samsung's part.

Samsung is getting worse than Apple by pulling these anti-customer stunts, the Android market marketshare and profits is getting to their head!!

Samsung already made a statement about this. It will work in any country after its been used in its own region, for example if you by the phone in the U.S and insert a sim from any U.S carrier then afterwards it will work in any country, but if you buy the phone new in the U.S and insert a sim from a different country it will have to be unlocked first by a samsung store for free before you can use it.

Can you point to that statement from them if you remember where it was, please? I indeed saw something which looked like it was saying what you said, but it was in German, unclearly translated by Google, and referring ostensibly to German or EU units. Thanks!

Posted via Android Central App

Im unable to post links on here but it was on my google+ post in android authority you can go there and look for the post, thats where i read it.

Being a very happy T-Mobile customer for over 10 years I know my Carrier would never send me a package with those kinds of restrictions on it. I also have an account with Verizon, I can believe anything from them but never from the best Carrier in the US. I have been to Ireland with my SGS3 and had no issues when I threw a sim card in that I bought at Shannon Airport. It's just a bunch of crap, The Note 3 is the best Android phone for 2013-2014.

Glad you enjoyed my island. The Note 3 may be the best phablet for some. Don't even call it a phone. Some tablets have the ability to make phone calls too...

Glad you enjoyed my island. The Note 3 may be the best phablet for some. Don't even call it a phone. Some tablets have the ability to make phone calls too...

I would suspect it has more to do with the lte radios used in the different regions America and Asia different to the European models...
Samsung saving money ..

Posted via Android Central App

Do You Have A Clue...?
Your Like 0.00001% that are travelers (Business or Pleasure) That can't afford, or are afraid your Company's can't afford whatever Roaming Charges you may run up..
Awh.. Did That $800.00 Dollar Phone Drain Your Little Account?

I swear, some of you just like to Whine..
Damn... Stop Crying About It.. What's Done is DONE.

Another ignorant post among many ignorant posts on the Internet.:)

If this is an attempt to defend Samsung or downplay the problem, I have only one simple and humble recommendation: go and study the concept of a "free market" and return when you are done with it.

If you think international roaming charges are nice and that it is great with a device that is "build for roaming" (a way to market this new feature) - go ahead and travel overseas with your region locked Note 3, use it as usual during that time and tell us the bill and if it is a benefit or if it had been a good idea of just putting a local SIM in like on normal unlocked phones.

You noticed the ridiculous capitalization and punctuation and expected the person to have a clue? LOL.

I didn't expect anything but the post was funny and I am not surprised either. For every anti-consumer move a manufacturer or a carrier does, someone WILL always defend it and present some kind of explanation. An explanation meaning that the action is 100% correct and that no one else understands the true reason, for example the threat of great import or customers that root and remove carrier bloatware.

Commie.. Your with a STUPID Name Like That, I'm going to have you INVESTAGATED..
Tejas.. Go Home.
Mercroid.... You Still can only type One Word At A Time........ BOY.

Nothing but a Bunch Of Coke Bottle Glaases Wearing Geeks..

Shut Up and get over it..

The Phone is LOCKED DOWN..

And you are STILL Whinning like Punka$$e$.

I payed $850 for the original Note a lot of us could afford one which is why we're on this website imo. But when you can pay less for other options and gets more flexibility and better reselling value (due to being unlocked), why waste $800 on plastic Samsung? The original Note and Galaxy SII was on of my favorite design, even though they had plastic body, they were very durable phones, I can't say the same for new generation Galaxy devices.

This really isn't a problem for me. Plenty of options out there like Oppo, Z1, LG, all have big screen phones. I am a big fan of Samsung, but moves like this will just piss off their fans, but fortunately they have many followers now so this news won't really do much.

Also paying high fees for roaming charges when you have a more affordable option is just dumb.

What will Verizon do with their Note 3 models, since aren't they required to unlock all their recent LTE hardware due to FCC regulations?

What I am especially ticked off about is that we never got advance notice of this, especially before pre-ordering the phone. Shame on you Samsung!

This is a misleading headline and this practice has been in force for years.

Samsung is entitled to do what it wishes, its a business. This is by far the most expensive device ever in terms of Android mass market.

If you cant deal with it, dont buy it. And why would ANYONE in America even try & import this, it will NOT work without some begging from AT&T & is NOT compatible w/ T-Mobile US due to firmware (Wi-Fi calling & authentication via SIM)

Im still within my 30 days on T-Mobile, I have an Xperia Z. I may save up a little more & swap this out or just wait a few months & JUMP! onto it. Either way, I'm covered.

What's misleading about the headline? I've never seen a "SIM-unlocked" phone ever be restricted to a region - this is the first I've ever seen (it's not locked to a specific carrier, this is like buying a Region 1 DVD and trying to play it in a Region 4 player).

And to your second point, if it had been indicated up-front that the phone would ONLY work in those regions, you're right, people wouldn't have bought it. But everyone assumed "unlocked" meant "unlocked" like every other phone (or SIM-equiped device, like my Galaxy Camera which is an UNLOCKED French import model) and would work just fine.

Like 60 of these sold yesterday on eBay's "Daily Deals" for $749 a pop.

I feel sorry for that seller. He will have a ton of chargeback claims on his hands when US based purchasers realize it won't work.

What absolute crap. How are they even doing that? When I buy a SIM-unlocked device that's exactly what it should be. There's no issue here with copyrights like with movie content (i.e. DVD regional settings) - this is strictly to protect carriers who want to charge overseas roaming fees, and I'll bet it was done at the behest of Sammy's large US carriers (why would any of the European carriers care about this?).

Just one more thing to check now when buying a phone.

Actually that is NOT what they say;

"Users of these Samsung devices can continue to use these together with their SIM card of a mobile operator from the European region via roaming serviceto appropriate roaming charges to their wireless service provider around the world. If purchased in the European Union and not yet been put into use to be activated for the first time abroad, users can unlock their device for the region free from local Samsung service partners.”

Note, it says we will be able to use the phone outside Europe using ROAMING. AND that is NOT what I want to do, I do NOT want to roam.

EDIT: Bah, they added an update that claims that it is possible. That is what you get by having the window open during the night before replying.

Really poor decision that entirely undermines the brand for me. Stop trying to trip your own customers up.

Good bye Samsung. These things like locking bootloaders, now this, is telling us you now do not care about your customers that helped build your android business.

This is why people should stop buying Samsung. They have drank their own kool-aid and now think they can do anything and people will follow like sheep.
It does remind me a lot of Sony when they were at the top of the world in electronics. They to acted like they could do anything and fell hard.

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Hi (sorry for my English)

I buy the note 3 from studenmobile . nl it is Netherland webshop for phone

I use the Dutch sim card (Vadafone, Tele2, T-mobile) for calling chatting internet.

As i read a lot of news about this. I should can now just put Thai sim card in it already. But it not working it still ned a clod for unlock the sim.

I try all the Thai Sim card i have.... AIS, True Companay, DTAC. None of it working.

I also call to Samsung support in Netherland. Samsung Service - en Informatielijn
Tel: 0900-SAMSUNG (0900-7267864) (10 c/m)

I get 3 different answer.
First one She only say just follow what the box say if you have problem with it just change the phone within 7 day.

Second one say.. I just go to the any simlock free shop for ask for helping. But the phone will only working a about 14 Day in Thailand if i make it a simlock free and use Thai Simcard. Or if i want to use longer i have to ask from Thai provider.

Third one. She not even know what I'm talking about. I mean she not know about this model. When i say Galaxy note 3,she not know., SN-N9005 she not know. I have to told her the serial number and many thing before she know that this model is available.

From the all answer I get. It seem like they not aware this problem yet in Nederland. Or they not being train yet what they have to do. Or they being trail only say do what the box say if you do not want it just return and buy something else.

I also go to Samsung Service Center (Maastricht) that in the Vadafone shop . First thing i feel is they not welcome me as I am a customer because I did not but the phone from them. What they only say just try to call to where i buy this phone. So what the point to be a Samsung Service Center if you not help costumer who buy the Samsung phone.

Now i think i have to wait till this thing be aware in Nederland.

If someone also from NL whom have this phone. Do you have a same problem ?

thank you for reading