samsung galaxy note 3

Galaxy Note 3's region locking could cost world travelers

If you're planning to pick up Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 next week, you might want to think twice before taking it abroad.

Android Authority reports that both the North American and European versions of the Galaxy Note 3 are region-locked, citing stickers that have appeared on “unlocked” versions of the phones. The phones were purchased from retailers such as Clove, Handtec and Negri Electronics, and Clove itself confirmed the SIM card limitations in a blog post. Samsung has since confirmed the practice to GigaOm.

Update: The Next Web reports that region locking only applies if you purchase a phone intended for certain regions, and then activate it with a SIM card from another region. For instance, phones purchased from UK retailer Clove and activated in China will no longer work on European carriers. But even then, users can take their phones to a Samsung service center to unlock them. If you buy the Galaxy Note 3 from a U.S. carrier, region locking shouldn't be an issue, though you'll still have to ask the carrier to unlock the phone for you.

In other words, if you buy a Note 3 in Europe, you won't be able to pop in a SIM card from AT&T when you're in the United States. The opposite should also be true for North American models of the handset, preventing users from inserting a SIM card from a local carrier when traveling outside the United States. Users can still take their phones abroad, but they'll have to pay the exorbitant rates charged by their main wireless carriers.

Keep in mind that in the United States, wireless carriers have not yet released their own versions of the Galaxy Note. AT&T is shipping the oversized handset on October 1, followed by T-Mobile on October 2, Sprint on October 4 and Verizon Wireless on October 10. Right now, it's unclear whether U.S. carrier versions of the Galaxy Note 3 will have the same region restrictions as the unlocked model.

Samsung's decision to region-lock the Galaxy Note 3 is certainly puzzling, especially because the phone's 5.7-inch display and built-in stylus make it an interesting option for business users on the go. We've reached out to Samsung PR for clarification.

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