Samsung's recently introduced "regional lock" for its latest range of Galaxy smartphones wasn't the electronic giant's brightest idea and it's clear why Samsung introduced it: To stop grey market imports and trading. As a matter of fact there are areas in the world, where you can get an imported Samsung smartphone cheaper then buying it from a local authorized dealer. Now, Samsung Germany (or better its attorneys - if you read the German original text) sent All About Samsung a statement in which it tried to explain why the regional lock was introduced (for sure Samsung only had the customer's experience in mind) and how to get rid of it - or not. In any case, Samsung made clear that the regional lock is here to stay.
Statement to simplify the "Regional Lock" of current Samsung products
Samsung has implemented a regional SIM lock feature in current devices to provide customers in the respective region the best possible mobile experience and to adapt customer service to the different needs in different regions.
Samsung has taken the feedback of its customers to hear and has therefore improved and simplified the deactivation of regional SIM. The first activation of a device with regional SIM lock feature should be done with a SIM card from a provider from the European region. A device from the European region* is immediately ready if the SIM card from the Europe region registers to a network within the European region and if its is used to make phone calls as normal. In practice this means that customers in Germany have to use the phone with a SIM card of a provider from the European region and after the first use of the device customers have to only make a five minutes call in the German mobile network to deactivate the regional SIM lock feature. It does not matter if the usage time of five minutes is achieved actively or passively by calling or being called. Then, the regional SIM Lock is permanently disabled. The new solution is part of the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update which is already available for the Galaxy Note 3. Further updates for the Samsung Galaxy S4 , S4 mini, Galaxy S III and Note II will be available in the coming weeks via FOTA system update (Firmware Over The Air ). If a user takes the device from the European region in operation with a SIM card from a provider who is not from the Europe, and the device does not accept a SIM card, he can get unlocked his device from Samsung Customer Service.
[Translated from German]
*Samsung defines the European region as countries from the European Economic Area which are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein Norway, Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia und Vatican City.
Everything clear? Not? Ok, to make a long story short: If you are living in Hong Kong or the U.S. and you are ordering a Galaxy S4 from Amazon UK, it won't work in Hong Kong or the United States because most likely you will plug-in an AT&T or Peoples Phone SIM card. This will lock your brand new phone. Same happens if you are a business traveler from Canada or China. In case you break your device here in Europe, you can't easily purchase a new contract free Samsung Galaxy Note 3 because you might setup the 5 minutes call in the right network, but most likely with the wrong SIM card, except if you also purchase a local SIM card the same time.
Cheers ~ Arne