Samsung’s new device region lock policy an attempt to pressure “some” importers

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Looks like Samsung Electronics has had it with all the importers who are buying Samsung devices on one continent / region and then sell them elsewhere at a higher price. All new Samsung mobile devices will get a ‘special’ region lock in an attempt to stop such practices.

According to many users on XDA, this isn’t a typical SIM lock, and uses an MCC-based (Mobile Country Code) lock that will not be disabled using a standard network-based SIM unlock code. The bit doing the locking lives inside the CSC (Consumer Software Customization) package in an MCC whitelist, specifying which country codes the device can be used in based on what regional software variant it is. Modifying the CSC without doing warranty-voiding kind of stuff is also apparently very, very tricky.”

It essentially means that even with a SIM unlock code, devices who have this locking mechanism, will not be able to work with a SIM that has an MCC beyond the cellphone’s home territory.  This will become quite challenging to deal with.

Buyers, of especially the Note 3, have seen that Samsung has a new sticker on the boxes that advises that the company has a new policy to SIM-lock popular phones to the territory in which they are sold.  Many people have confirmed it, in Europe, USA and the UK, in fact it was Clover in the UK that first publicized the news yesterday.  Samsung Germany gave a statement with regards to the matter, but did not elaborate as to the  ‘why’ there is a need to do this.  This is the statement in a nutshell:  There is a new company policy which applies to Galaxy S III, S II, Note, S4, S4 Mini, and Note 3 devices produced after the end of July 2013, in that all regionally locked devices will have a sticker which will indicate this.  The lock is over an expansive area, in that a European region would mean the device will work throughout the entire European Economic Area and multiple non-EU countries / principalities, but not in, say, Africa or Asia).

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If a you buy a device in an area without activating it with a SIM in that region, you are able to have it unlocked for free outside that territory by a ‘Samsung service partner’ where you will ultimately use it.

There are currently two zones, the Americas and Europe.” The European lock extends to the following regions (meaning, you can use your European region-locked phone in any of these countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands , Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK, Switzerland, Croatia, Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Vatican City

More clarity is required from the Americas but apparently the box indicates “The North, South, and Central Americas and the Caribbean,” which we think would probably be any country included in the declaration. However, this does not mean that US carrier phones will work anywhere in the Americas, they are still carrier locked. Phones bought in the Americas will not accept an Asian or European SIM and vice versa. Your Samsung device will be restricted to the area in which it was bought.

“For the less curious, this will mean more roaming bills to rack up – music to the ears of carriers the world over. But why has Samsung even engaged in this practice? Is there anything to be gained? Possibly. This may be a shot at phone importers / exporters and the retailers who sell imported devices. The phone import / export business lives and dies on things like favorable currency exchange rates, regional pricing / release date variations, and localized hardware shortages. Samsung is taking in the reins on its supply line here by making it a significantly more difficult process to import phones from, say, Asia, and then sell them in Europe or the US.”

What this means is that it is more profitable for Samsung to have tighter control of where your devices are sold, and for how much, rather than let the exporters make the money by buying devices in cheap regions and selling it at a profit in a more expensive area.  This is sure to cause confusion with regards to warranties and software support.

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