Saturday, 26 April 2014

Warning regarding Samsung Smartphones

After purchasing two Samsung smartphones overseas at a very reasonable price I was shocked to discover Samsung have added a second “lock” to their smartphones manufactured after May 2013.  Most phones have a “carrier lock” which prevents the user from changing the SIM card for another operator.

Recently Samsung added a “Region Lock” to the smartphones.  The effect of this is to prevent the phone being used in another country unless you use the SIM card from the country of origin.  This means that if you buy and activate the phone in country A and then go to country B (business/holiday) you may not be able to purchase a local SIM card and use it in your Samsung phone.  You must continue to use the Country A SIM card and pay the high cost of international calls.

I have read that Samsung claim they have done this to “improve the owners experience”!  However my opinion is that Samsung has done this to prevent the sale of cheap “grey” imports.  What Samsung want to do is divide up the world into regions and price the same phone according to what the local market can pay.  If you live in the you can obviously afford to pay more for the phone than someone in Laos or Equador.  So the phone gets sold cheaper in Laos and Equador and to prevent the 3rd party shipping and sale of Samsung phones from Equador to the UK Samsung has Region Locked them to ensure they won’t work.  The problem is this affects genuine travellers.

If you have a Samsung smartphone be advised that Samsung is adding this Region Code lock retrospectively to all firmware upgrades.  So if you have an existing (pre May 2013) smartphone is may currently be Region Free, but if you upgrade the firmware the Region Lock will be installed.

I’ve found the hidden file on my Samsung phone and it has 48 locked countries

460    China
454    Hong Kong
250    Russia
255    Ukraine
401    Kazakhstan
259    Moldova
437    Kyrgyzstan
438    Turkmenistan
436    Tajikistan
428    Mongolia
400    Azerbaijan
282    Georgia
283    Amenia
257    Belarus
525    Singapore
452    Vietnam
505    Australia
520    Thailand
515    Philippines
502    Malaysia
510    Indonesia
456    Cambodia
414    Myanmar
457    Laos
404    India
405    India
470    Bangladesh
413    Sri Lanka
429    Nepal
724    Brazil
370    Dominican Republic
338    Jamica
374    Trinidad and Tobago
706    El Salvador
734    Venezuela
714    Panama
712    Costa Rica
740    Ecuador
704    Guatemala
708    Honduras
710    Nicaragua
744    Paraguay
748    Uruguay
736    Bolivia
732    Columbia
722    Argentina
730    Chile
716    Peru

Apparently the number of locked regions depends upon where you purchased the phone! 

After corresponding with Samsung UK I was directed back to the Samsung distributor in the country of purchase.  They informed me by return email that provided I first used the phone in the country of purchase with a local SIM for more than 10 minutes the Region Lock would automatically be deleted. 

I’ve now checked the phone and they are correct.  Because I used the phone in the original country for more than 10 minutes the Region Lock has gone.  However it is worth noting that if you purchase a Samsung smartphone as a parallel import then it may not work!  So a cheap parallel import Samsung phone may not be that cheap after all.


Catherine VK4GH said...

Is your new Samsung a 3, 4 or 5? Does it still have the external antenna port in the back?

Tom and Jan said...

Catherine it's an S4 i9505 (4G)and specifically purchased because it has the external antenna port!