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Your 'unlocked' Euro Galaxy S7 is still region-locked — but that's not a huge deal

Over the past couple of years, Samsung has introduced region-locking to some of its unlocked handsets — particularly in markets like Europe and Latin America. The idea is you wouldn't be able to pick up a new Galaxy phone in one region and immediately use it with a SIM card from somewhere else. (This is not to be confused with network-locking, where a phone bought through a carrier is locked to its network.)

The same applies to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge — models SM-G930F and SM-G935F, if you're keeping track — which have just officially launched across Europe. Pick up an unlocked GS7 or GS7 edge and its box will be sealed with a sticker reading "European SIM card only."

European SiM Card Only

The tab below this sticker explains how and why, albeit in tiny and rather verbose script. Essentially, in order for your unlocked European GS7 to be fully unlocked, you first need to make a total of five minutes worth of phone calls using a European SIM. If you don't do this, and try to use it with a SIM from outside of Europe, it won't connect to the network.

Even without this requirement though, you can still use your brand new Euro GS7 on any European network you like.

Samsung's trying to scupper grey importers, not regular consumers.

So why is Samsung doing this? It's most likely intended to scupper grey importers — sellers who offer European Samsung phones for sale in regions they're not intended for. (And that's an increasingly attractive proposition given that Samsung's still not selling unlocked Galaxy S7s in the U.S.) The region lock lets most regular buyers have a completely unlocked phone for use around the world, after first using it for a short while in their home territory, while roadblocking anyone who's bulk-shipping Euro GS7s to other parts of the world.

It's a minor inconvenience, and something we'd rather not have to deal with when we're paying top dollar for a brand new device. But at the same time, a five-minute phone call (or five one-minute phone calls, or whatever) is a fairly small compromise.

Alex Dobie
Alex Dobie

Alex is global Executive Editor for Android Central, and is usually found in the UK. He has been blogging since before it was called that, and currently most of his time is spent leading video for AC, which involves pointing a camera at phones and speaking words at a microphone. He would just love to hear your thoughts at alex@androidcentral.com, or on the social things at @alexdobie.

46 Comments
  • As a former Samsung fan, I am now on the unlocked phone band wagon. It's a shame that Samsung snuggles up to carriers, then region locks an unlocked phone. I guess it's the only way they can make sure we're forced to choke on the carrier bloat that they got paid to install.
  • The weird thing is who would come from abroad and buy an European device? It will most likely be more expensive when converted to their own currency. Unless in rare occasions. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It is cheaper in certain cases. Just as an example: a couple of my friends bought microsoft surface tablet from the USA because it is more expensive here (in the United Arab Emirates) Thus region locking is done so people dont buy gs7 in bulk and sell it somewhere where the gs7 is very expensive. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah USA would be cheaper. But I meant buying from Europe will probably not be cheaper.. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "It's a minor inconvenience, and something we'd rather not have to deal with when we're paying top dollar for a brand new device. But at the same time, a five-minute phone call (or five one-minute phone calls, or whatever) is a fairly small compromise."
    Samsung-friendly post there. Assuming you're in the US and have imported a European Galaxy S7, this is a 'minor inconvenience' only if you access to a European SIM with enough credit to make a 5 minute roaming phone call. But if you don't have this the inconvenience turns sour. There's a big market of prepaid European SIM cards available in the US? eBay is your friend in this case?
  • If you're in the U.S. there's no reason to import a Euro model. Because you'll be paying more for it I'm quite sure. Ultimately this is probably to stop grey importers buying overseas and selling on. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well there is a reason if you don't want a carrier branded phone. Im on cricket and prefer the unlocked models to the carrier ones as I won't get updates if I just throw an att version on my plan. Also last year I got an unlocked Galaxy s6 cheaper than the carrier version, so not always more expensive. It's a shame.
  • Just have to be careful with what bands it supports, the Euro model doesn't support all US LTE bands sometimes.
    It's also not optimized for US networks, so their can be some weirdness with signal quality I've heard.
  • Theres any ways to fix that about the LTE ? I bought a s7 on ebay when i put my sim card in the phone only goes 4G -
  • Don't worry Eddy. 4G and LTE are one and the same. Only in USA they use the term LTE (bcoz AT&T and T-Mob used 4G for 3.5G) whereas rest of the world uses the term 4G which is correct,
  • I have the same issue with global s7 edge purchased through EBay. Now LTE is same as 4G I would expect speeds be identical but that's not the case. I see speed way lower than LTE. Anyone knows if there's a way to turn on LTE.
  • LTE and 4G are the same thing. If you're not able to achieve full upload and download speeds then it could be either the reception in your area is not strong enough for high speeds or 4G not enabled in your phone (for an example: https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.anrdoezrs.net%2F... The worst case is that your phone model doesn't support the LTE frequence bands your mobile operator is using. My operator is using LTE Band 3 (1800MHz) so I need the G930F model of the Galaxy S7, if I decide to get this phone.
  • Can you please specify the damage caused by "grey importers"?
    For what I know a company that protects it's contracted distributors in the region , simply won't allow them to sell items in bulks unless the buyer has a registered [physical] store from the specific area sold only in that area.
    When I tried to export Dr Scholls from US (was cheaper) I only asked for the quantity and pricing. And was asked to provide the documents showing my actual store here (minimum 2) and if not to contact their distributor for Europe in UK. VZW Moto X DE/N7
  • At this point, Samsung is more than big - popular enough to stop supporting US carriers bloat and demand from them to keep the OS with timely updates and security patches providing consumers best experience possible. But no, they still care more for the "guaranteed" shipments.
    So this region lock is more than obvious.
    You should have called them out on this first VZW Moto X DE/N7
  • That is unless you want the superior model (Exynos) with root available, which a lot of US folk do want.
  • I ordered my new S7 and only just realised it's the US octa core version. Any idea if it'll be region locked to the US? And if so, how do I get it to work in the UK?
  • Well that's exactly what they're trying to prevent, so technically it's not even intended to be an inconvenience at all, rather a dealbreaker. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Do roaming calls work? I'm not sure that's an actual work around.
    I would think you'd need to activate the device on the actual network abroad first at minimum.
  • Lol this site is truly becoming samsuncentral
  • I'm curious.. is the LG G5 out yet? Is the HTC M10 out yet? No?
  • Nope but there is a new android version in developer preview, while other sites are writing the most stuff about it you can barely see one article here. The rest is Samsung, Samsung everywhere. So samsungcentral is for real.
  • Which other relased phone in your opinion, should they write about? Are you seriously saying there are no articles about Android N?
    Hell, there's a whole section for it! http://www.androidcentral.com/whats-new-android-n
  • Major changes to the notification shade
    Android N's Recent apps key has grown a bunch of awesome new features
    Android N adds a potentially life-saving feature
    How Multi-Window works on the Pixel C
    Waiting on the Android N easter egg
  • Can you even read I said you can barely see one article here. And thats the link you posted lol. Most of the site are done writing this lots of stuff about the S7 and turned the attetion where it belongs. To the Android OS but here jezzzz Samsung,samsung everwhere.
  • Right now, they definitely are focusing on everything Samsung, but I suspect that to end in a week when the novelty of the s7 wears off. Then they might be LG central! Posted via the Android Central App
  • i bought note 3 after its release...that was a sealed euro sim model and i bought it in K.SA it worked like a charm...and it was really cheap than the regional note 3 Posted via the Android Central App
  • There goes my plans on buying an imported unlocked model. Oh well, perhaps I'll find a way to work around it. If Samsung did it like HTC and sold an unbranded and unlocked device at full-price for those who want it, I think we would be happy with that, especially since carriers are ditching subsidized prices.
  • Simple. Thats what i do with my latin America clients. If they want we can power them up here for them, unlock the region like its mentioned in this article and then send it to them. Most of my clients buy the phones here and then take them to their country. Its a method that has worked for years. The whole region unlocking is not really that much of a pain if the dealer knows what he's doing. He'll have your phone ready, region unlocked before you even get it even if it a euro phone or american version going to south america.
  • The only thing Samsung is doing with these shenanigans is ensuring I continue rooting my devices 5 minutes after I get them for no other reason than to uninstall all the garbage.
  • I gave up on that since GS3. So but buying Samsung until they sell it unlocked in US VZW Moto X DE/N7
  • I bought the S7 edge SIM free from Unlocked Mobiles in the UK. Does this mean I have to use a European SIM card first? How is that SIM free? Plus, they just emailed me today and said it's delayed until March 21 because of high demand! Posted via my LG G4
  • Never mind, Their site says that they place a 5 minute phone call first to unlock.
  • Wizzy- are you in the US? If so, how was the pricing compared to a carrier model? This may be a good work around if I read your OP correctly.
  • It works out to about 750 US. I'm living in Costa Rica so I had to get it unlocked and with international shipping. If you want a factory unlocked version and want the Exynos processor, it could be an option for you. No bloatware!
    Take a look: https://www.unlocked-mobiles.com/sim-free-mobile-phones/samsung-galaxy-s...
  • Thanks!
  • Yes - it's one of the reasons I gave up on Samsung after the Note 3.
  • Locking anything is a good reason not to buy the brand. Posted via my Motorola Startac
  • Well, that's that then - I'm not buying another Samsung. I'm still using my S4 with CM13 on it. I liked the S5, but from then on it went down hill - they either removed external storage, or user replaceable battery and now this. Can't they just build phones that I can buy and use how and where I want? I want plain vanilla, with user exchangeable battery and external storage option - ideally I would also like to have the whole gambit of LTE frequencies - not a phone where they either leave off the key US ones or the key EU ones (if you hadn't noticed ... that's another little trick they have - check the Nexus specs). Imagine they did this with cars - you can only by a Merc if you drive it for 100 miles in Germany first! I'd gladly pay for the privilege, just make it already!
  • Placed an order on eBay. See this. Cancel the order.
    Guess I keep waiting and hope this region locked is really "not huge deal", but for now, it's not "not huge deal".
  • I bit on the $599 S7 SM-G930F on eBay. The seller States that no sim locking or region lock is present. So I don't know haha. They say sealed new and will work with any GSM provider in States. I saved all of our correspondence, so I can return and dispute on eBay if necessary. It was too good of a deal not to gamble on it.
  • I asked people who have F model and they say they have no issue with AT&T, Cricket and T-Mobile network on their F model.
  • Isn't that stupid? I mean shouldn't I be able to use my UNLOCKED phone whereever I want? Stupid move from Samsung, but I shouldnt even care because I live in Germany and have no plans to change that :)
  • What happen if you are FACTORY RESET the phone after you spoke those 5min? You need to speak them again? what if I will be in another region when I have done the factory reset?
    Now my S7 has a CALL BARRING protection to outgoing calls locked with a pin which I never set... (i try already 0000 1111 1234-not working) Someone knows if this CALL BARRING appeared because this regional lock protection? NOTE: I spoke 11min with the regional sim card before FACTORY RESET. Regional sim, local sim is working but international (roaming) with another sim (not regional) is not working, the outgoing calls are CALL BARRING ON.
  • I would like t ask a question about that. When I buy a s7 (european card sim only),first I need to use european card like a 5 minutes afterthat I can use non-Europe. So afterhat updates are coming and need to update.İf I install the update, do I need to use european cards or not ? Please help about that
  • This is so ******! I bought a Samsung S7 Edge for my mother who lives in another continent as a gift while she was visiting me, now she can't use the phone, 5-min call unlocking is impossible from outside europe! & Smart Samsung didn't even bother to write a note or anything on the packaging that it won't work outside europe! I am sure this is happening to thousands of people! So unfriendly
  • I have a GM-G935F S7 Edge phone I bought for a good deal.. Its the Global European version and it worked perfectly fine with ATT in the USA right out of the box.