It was discovered back in September that Samsung’s latest phablet, the Galaxy Note 3, could be region locked. This would have meant trouble for frequent travellers or customers who rely on the grey market in their countries to buy such devices. Samsung has already clarified that region locking applies to first time activations of the device only, but still a lot of people are confused as to why this restriction has been put in place for SIM-free variants. Samsung Germany has cleared up misconceptions about region locking in an attempt to make it clear for customers to understand why this restriction has been put in place.
For example, a SIM-free Galaxy Note 3 is purchased in Europe, the first SIM card inserted in the device must be from a carrier that operates in the particular region. It doesn’t matter if the carrier doesn’t operate in the particular country where the device is bought from, it just need to operate in one of the countries in the entire region. After the SIM has been inserted, it must be used for voice calls for at least five minutes, it doesn’t matter if the call is initiated from the device or not. The call must be placed through the carrier and not through an internet based service like Viber or Skype. Once this is done, the region lock is automatically deactivated. The device can now be used anywhere in the world on any carrier. Those who end up with a region locked device in a different region and can’t use a SIM to deactivate region lock, they can go to a Samsung care center and get it deactivated, it is not known if there are any costs associated with this or if it would have to be proved where the device has been purchased from.
The aim of implementing this restriction is to curtail grey market sales, though it remains to be seen if there will be any visible effects on the grey market as a result of region locking. Its not going to go away anytime soon, in fact, region locking isn’t exclusive to the Galaxy Note 3. Samsung is likely to introduce it in other devices in the future.