Update: GigaOm has received a new statement from Samsung that clarifies the Note 3's region locking policy. Though Samsung's own text and initial statements seemed to confirm that both the European and American models of the Note 3 would be barred from using SIM cards from other regions, Samsung is now saying that this only applies to the very first SIM card used to set up the phone. Insertion of a foreign SIM during the Note 3's setup process will lock up the device, ostensibly as a way to stop distributors from sending phone models to areas they weren't meant for. However, if the Note 3 is set up using a local SIM card, it will be able to use any other card from that point forward — foreign ones included. GigaOm reports that this policy is in place on units of the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 mini, Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III that were produced after July as well. We have adjusted to the headline to reflect Samsung's new statement — the original article continues below:
Galaxy Note 3 owners are going to have limited options when it comes to using their smartphone on another continent. According to Android Authority, Samsung has region locked both the American and European models of the Note 3, allowing them to only work within limited areas by default. For the European version, that's largely all of Europe, while the American version includes North, Central, and South America, as well as the Caribbean. Samsung has confirmed details of the European lock to GigaOm, but we haven't heard back on confirmation about the American model.
"Works with all types of LTE networks."
Though the Note 3 will be able to connect to foreign networks, it won't be able to do so simply through using a foreign network's SIM card like usual — instead, Note 3 owners will have to pay their local carrier's international roaming fees in order to tap into wireless networks on another continent. Android Authority reports that both Note 3 models explain this through stickers on their packaging, which say that the device is "only compatible with a SIM card issued from a mobile operator" within either Europe or the Americas, depending on the model. According to Ausdroid, Note 3 units bound for the Asia Pacific region do not include such a sticker, however, though the presence or absence of a region lock has not been confirmed.
It's an odd choice for Samsung to make, particularly given that the company touted the Note 3's wide support of LTE bands. "Works with all types of LTE networks, no matter where you are," JK Shin, head of Samsung Mobile Communications, said while introducing the device. The statement remains as true as ever, but Samsung is certainly making it a bit harder for most customers to take advantage of it.
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