• Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – SIM limitations

    By Clove , September 25, 2013 - Leave a comment

    Update 09/10/13

    How to use puman.ru to unlock the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (or any other handset)

    Disclaimer: Whilst we can report that the following method for unlocking the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the (other region-locked Samsung smartphones that we range) is successful, it is not an activity endorsed by Clove and we will not be held responsible for any implications that it may have on your handset’s warranty

    As was first reported by UKMobileReview, a website called puman.ru is able to offer a network unlock code for many handsets, including for the region lock on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

    It is a Russian website, but can be translated to English by your web browser. This page shows a list of handsets for which the site can provide an unlock code.

    After translating the page, you will see that the service for the Galaxy Note 3 is close to the top.

    If you would like to check that your handset is compatible for unlocking and to then place an order, you can do so by emailing smsmts@gmail.com. Include your IMEI number with the email so that they can check your handset’s compatibility.

    Email correspondence is fast, friendly and written in English. Once they have confirmed that your handset can be unlocked, they will ask you to make a payment by PayPal. Price varies per handset, but for the Note 3 it is $26.

    When making the payment by PayPal, include your IMEI again in the comments. Punman.ru will then email you the code once they have it. Again, the time to provide the code varies between minutes, hours and days depending on the handset. The turnaround time for the Note 3 is 12-24 hours, although our contact had his code emailed through within 20 minutes.

    Once you have received the code, turn your handset on with an overseas SIM in it. This will bring up the network lock message and the prompt to enter the unlock code. Enter your code and the network lock will be removed.

    Our source has tried this with a Thai SIM card in Thailand and was able to successfully remove the network lock and make use of GSM and 3G networks.

    Please bear in mind that if you unlock the handset but are then unable to use it for 3G, you may need to configure the access point names.

    This can be found under settings > mobile networks. Often they are downloaded automatically, but in some cases they do need to be entered manually. If the latter is the case for your handset, you may be able to find them online, but if not you will need to contact your network provider to determine what they are. They are specific to your provider, not the handset, so you would need to search for ‘Vodafone apn’ rather than ‘Galaxy Note 3 apn’.

    UPDATE 07/10/13 – Official reports are still conflicted however we have made the decision not to offer the European Galaxy Note 3 for delivery outside of the EEA and compatible territories, unless we have the explicit consent of the customer and their understanding of the regional lock. We have made this decision based on investigation with colleagues and customers in countries considered ‘incompatible’ and due to information received from Samsung Customer Support centres across Europe.

    Samsung UK released the following statement following the release of the Note 3:

    “In order to provide customers with the optimal mobile experience in each region including customer care services, Samsung has incorporated the ‘regional SIM lock’ feature into Galaxy Note 3 devices. The product is only compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within the region identified on the sticker of the product package. When the device is activated with a SIM card issued from the other region, the device may be automatically locked until it is released at the dedicated service centre.

    Once a device is activated normally, the regional SIM lock is automatically released. Users can enjoy the roaming service as usual and can use other region’s SIM card when travelling. The regional SIM lock has been applied to the Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S4 devices through a software update in selective markets. The regional SIM lock does NOT affect the device’s features and performance. Users can continue to enjoy all the advanced features of our products.”

    We have also received this communication through Samsung Backstage on Facebook:

    Hi [redacted] the regional sim card lock will not prevent customers from using the device abroad or using local sim cards, provided that the sim card used upon starting up the device is from [sic] a European sim card. It is designed to ensure that devices are sold within the region that they were designed for in order to ensure an optimal customer experience.

    Both of these statements would signify that if you purchase a Note 3 from Clove and activate it within a compatible territory, you can still travel and insert a SIM from a non supported territory without limitation.

    We now reiterate that our own experience and that of our customers and colleagues contradicts these statements. As a direct result of what we have learned, we will therefore not be allowing shipments outside of the compatible territories, without the express consent of the customer who we have ensured is aware of the regional lock limitations.

    Read on for our original post and the list of compatible territories.

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is the successor to the very popular Note 2.

    Now available, the Note 3 is already proving very popular, with new and existing Samsung Note owners.

    At Clove we now have stock of the Note 3 European SIM model, SM-N9005. These have 4G connectivity and a quad-core processor.

    We wish to make our UK & European customers aware of certain functionality limitations regarding SIM cards on the Note 3.

    The following image is of a sticker on our stock of Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

    If you travel internationally (outside Europe) and usually insert a local SIM card when in those countries, the Note 3 will NOT be able to use the local network. It will lose all mobile connectivity with the exception of emergency calls.

    For example, if you travel to the USA and insert a SIM card issued in the USA, you will not be able to use the Note 3 for any voice calls, text messages and mobile data connection. It will work via a WiFi connectivity only.

    We are accepting and shipping all orders from Europe, with the exception of those countries mentioned.

    As a result any orders received outside of Europe will not be shipped.


    This article was written by a member of the Clove Team. Clove is a specialist provider of mobile technology products, including smartphones, tablets, wearables, connected home products, memory cards and associated accessories.


  • that’s interesting. I wonder why. I would be worried that if another MVNO started in England that the Note 3 wouldn’t accept their SIM.

    • Hey Paul, I don’t think that would be a problem.
      We’re not sure exactly how it works but if it is based on information from the SIM, as the sticker alludes to, then all SIM cards have a unique IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) number, like each handset has a unique IMEI number.
      The beginning of this number contains internationally standardised country codes. So SIMs from a new MVNO would have to abide by these standards 🙂

  • i ordered it to use it in egypt. does this mean it wont work? why you did say that prior to sending the phones out to people?

    • That is right Mohamed, it will not work. If you are having it delivered here, the order will not have shipped and you will have been contacted. We have only found this information out today.

  • my order was excluded form vat and i was supposed to get my refund and i stated several times that the phone will be shipped to Egypt. why no one contacted me to cancel the order. are you going to send us unlock codes or take the phones back or what. mine is still in the UK and will be picked up by the carrier shortly.

    • Mohamed, it sounds like you were having it delivered to Egypt via the UK then rather than direct to Egypt? To refund the VAT we have to wait until we have proof of export. This is likely in hand but if you email sales@clove.co.uk to check. We may need to get the package back in light of this information. We stopped international shipments going out, but we are unable to verify every UK address to check whether it was being forwarded on.

  • Odd. It’ll be interesting to see if this is a one-off, or the Samsung norm going forward. Not a big issue for me, but it’s going to annoy a lot of exporters/buyers and long duration travellers. Hard to see what this is about, though.

  • Are there any solutions to have it unlocked to work within the uk on another network? My friend is due an upgrade and has agreed to keep my Note 2 and would happily hand over the Note 3 to me as a gift 🙂 but I’m on o2 and I’m not sure if I can have the note 3 unlocked from Three to work on o2 as of yet.

    • We can not comment on whether the networks will lock their units and the process behind unlocking them. But in the past there have been solutions.

  • I’m in Australia, should I cancel my order now or should I wait?

    It should be released here in AUS early October.


    • Steven, We are not aware of a workaround at this time. It is best to cancel and we will publicise other options is we have them.

  • I pre-ordered mine at Samsung UK website. Does that means it will come with this restriction?
    Briton in Venezuela.

  • I preordered one
    I recieved an email that my order will be cancelled because of this issue unless i reply to that email so i didnt waiting for refund.
    I am a regular customer , very disappointed
    I wonder why the whole world get unlocked version except europe!

  • is Clove a Samsung partner? because based on xda developers discussions, Samsung Germany said that unlock codes will be available with Samsung business partners. in addition, as they say, if you first activate the phone with a uk sim card you can use it on any other network anywhere.

    i would appreciate if clove can confirm this partner thing or with the distribute who gave it the phones.

    follow this:

      • Hi i bought my Note 3 in the States and it’s unlocked for Germany ( my husband is in the military and we are stationed in Germany ) but here is my question 🙂 why can i set my phone in German ? I only could change the keyboard language in German but not the Phone ,that’s weird !

        • Hi Heidi, glad to hear that you have the device unlocked and working correctly in Germany.
          The reason for this is due to the exact firmware and files installed on the phone by Samsung at the factory. These depend on the region the phone was ‘intended’ for.
          Now whilst there are usually lots of keyboards available, the system languages are often restricted to those most likely to be used in the intended region. As German is not widely used outside of Europe, your American bought handset won’t have it. If you look, you will probably find that other predominantly European languages are not available for the system such as Italian and Dutch. Spanish / Portuguese probably are, as these are widely used in the Americas and possibly also French as well due to Canada.
          It’s not always easy to add more system languages; you can try the MoreLocale 2 app, although I’m not sure if this works on the Note 3 properly.
          Hope that answers your question.

  • Good day!
    I want to buy from you phone Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
    You can activate this phone in Europe, so I can fully use in Russia? You can sell me the phone activated?

    • Hello Murat, we are currently investigating if this is possible – at the moment our testing would show that it will not work, despite what has been communicated from Samsung

  • I live in Turkey but spend a few months of the year in the UK and Germany. So I’ve got 3 SIM cards – Turkish, British and German. I’m currently in Turkey but will be in Germany in November. The plan was to order the Note 3 and the Gear (yes I’m a sucker for gadgets) from you in November and get them delivered to Germany.

    From what I’ve read here and on several other sites I’m guessing there won’t be an issue with the British and German SIM cards but I’m concerned about the Turkish one. The Samsung clarification I have read is very ambiguous. What an utter shambles – spend the best part of a thousand quid (will order accessories as well) and I don’t know if I can actually get use of a product that I spent my hard earned money on.

    Sure I could buy in Turkey but maybe I’ll get the same problem in reverse and my UK and German SIMs won’t work. Plus Turkcell are utter sharks who make the mafia look like a bunch of Sunday school teachers.

    Oh well, it’s a few weeks until November, hopefully it will be sorted by then.

    • Hi Robert- you’re right about the UK/Germany, from what we have seen our device will be interoperable in these territories.
      The flipside is true for Turkey – the models officially sold there come under the ‘Middle East’ regioning and have a similar sticker denoting available countries.

      We’re waiting for a clarified update now – the most recent one was provided to another blog we have good ties with and there have been conflicting reports from customers worldwide.
      As you say, hopefully this will all be sorted by next month!

      • Thanks for the reply Josh, appreciate it. Been following the very long thread about this on XDA which I’m sure you’ve also seen. Most people are saying everything is fine as long as you first activate the phone using a SIM from the same country you bought it, after that any SIM from any country will work. The problem is there are people for whom that hasn’t worked so it’s not all that clear cut.

        Was really looking forward to treating myself to some new toys, watching and reading reviews as we gadget freaks do 🙂 This unnecessary region lock nonsense has soured the whole thing and must have done Samsung a lot of damage. Totally unprofessional.

  • Can you say who at Samsung UK sent out the statement quoted in your update. There seemed to be some at Samsung UK on Friday who were not aware of it. Did you receive it direct from Samsung UK?

    Perhaps more to the point, if I purchase a Note 3 from Clove and activate it within Europe, but then travel outside of the EU and insert a non EU SIM and find I cannot use the non EU SIM due to a regional lock, will I be able to return the phone to Clove and get my money back?

    • Hi Derek, the quote we currently have on the blog post was provided to UK Mobile Review by an unnamed spokesperson.
      It does however mirror the message posted to various social media outlets by both Samsung Switzerland and Samsung Germany.
      These statements suggest that the SIM lock will disappear once the device is activated and registered in the intended territory.
      In practice however this does not seem to have been the case.
      We await Samsung UK to provide an official press release on the matter.

  • I just wanna know that its between EU countries and America or this thing is applicable in Asian countries
    For example I purchased samsung galaxy note 3 in Kingdom of saudi Arabia and I want to use the same note 3 in India does it work in India. Please do reply


    • Hello Arif, there is also a ‘Middle East’ version. This should have been outlined in asimilar sticker to the one we have shown on the side of your Note 3 box

      • in the middle east there are different versions being sold in many countries and MCC block list is different. some countries are even selling both the snapdragon version with blocks and the exynos version without blocks. more over you just drive half an hour from saudi arabia to bahrain over the bridge connecting the two countries and you can supposedly buy even the snapdragon version where the boxes apparently dont have the sim block stickers like they apparently do across the bridge in saudi!

        supposedly the russian site selling the unlock code works as per some posts on xda.

        wondering whether to import this from bahrain now (snapdragon version) as have relatives there.

  • This is going to be the norm going forward. Samsung have already ndicated that this ‘region locking’ will be rolled out to the SGS4, SGS3 and Note II (probably other devices too) in their next update. I’m disgusted by this. As an international business traveller, this impacts me massively. I was really looking forward to the Note 3 as a productivity device for when I go abroad and put the various work sims I have for the other countries where we have offices. Now I will have to find another productivity device and sell my S4 and buy a proper phone.

    • Hi Steven, the reports are now coming through that once ‘activated’ within Europe (set up with a compatible SIM card), the region locking will disappear and the device can be used as expected.
      We have sent out a few activated models out to contacts in restricted territories to test this.
      Come back in a few days and we will have a confirmed result

      • many of those people giving those reports have infact used sims that are not in the MCC block list present on the CSC of the phone. This list can be seen by using file explorers like es explorer and the csc version can be seen by using codes on the phone dialler as mentioned on xda posts. There are atleast 2 versions with 30+ or 60+ block lists on EU versions of this phone. Similarly there are atleast 2 versions of the middle east version of this phone with different MCC block lists. similar issues for various regions with different CSC file and MCC block lists.

        To get CSC file name (dial *#1234#) and the contents of the MCC block list in the /system/csc/customer.xml file using ES file explorer or other file explorers that can check system files

  • Hi Josh,

    I assume from the need to send the activated phones out to test them with contacts in the field that Samsung UK have not given you an official press release confirming the position one way or another. It seems tragic that Samsung UK will not give you straight answers and require you to send them out around the world to test their own policy for yourself. Samsung’s aloof treatment of its channel partners and customers suggests it is taking a page out of the Ryanair playbook perhaps.

    Good luck with the testing. Might you be able to tell us which countries’ SIMs you are planning to test. No worries if not, and again a lot of credit to you guys for being so proactive.

  • I had been planning to upgrade to a Note 3 from my Note 2 once the early adopter’s premium finished and prices steadied which would have been early 2014. I am now going to hold off on those plans, and in the meanwhile see if I still have a T-Mobile USA SIM around to verify that the Note 3 will roam; if I can’t, I will get one of my contacts abroad to send me SIM, or buy one off ebay (there are many people who sell foreign sims on ebay).

  • At least Clove are being pro-active on this unlike Samsung who are not replying to any emails which could quickly clear this up. It all leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Talk about a PR disaster. Remember how Nokia was once the biggest mobile phone maker? The same could very quickly happen to Samsung. Whatever my next phone may be I am tempted to buy it from Clove because at least they are putting their customers first.

    • Thanks John for the kind words. We try to serve our customers as best as we can, giving the more ‘personal’ touch where we can.

    • This is the perfect example of why buying from a company who have, and value their reputation, is worth paying the extra; thumbs up to Clove.

  • Just to add to what Jon has said above. My first purchase from Clove was a Psion 3a back in 1992 or 1993, it was probably just Chris by himself in those days :-). The service from Clove has always been absolutely first rate, way beyond normal customer service.

    Let me give you an example…

    In 1994 or 1995 Psion came out with the series 5. I’d read reviews in PC magazines (no online reviews in those days) and they were mixed. Don’t remember the exact details but I think some writers were complaining that key features were missing. I phoned Chris to see if he could clarify these points for me.

    You know what he did? He sent me a Psion 5 (selling for £500 18 years ago) for me to try out for myself. He didn’t ask any money, he just trusted me! If I was happy with it I should phone him up to pay for it (I was happy and I did), if not I should just return it. Now THAT’S what I call service! I have never forgotten that, hence this post.

    Why am I writing this? All of us, myself included, are quick to rant on blogs and Facebook, etc when things go wrong. Fair enough. But when we do get good service we should also praise those business that try hard. Clove is one of those businesses that go out of their way to help customers, as we have seen in this thread. They deserve our support.

    If and when this issue gets resolved I will buy through Clove. I don’t care if another online retailer is £30, £50 or whatever cheaper. Any fool can set up a site offering goods “cheaper than anyone else”. What’s not so easy is consistently offering high quality customer service over a 20 year period. Clove have done and are doing just that.

    I have no affiliation whatsoever with Clove other than as a long standing, happy customer.

    Cheers 🙂


  • A quick thank you from everyone at Clove for the level of understanding in this comment thread and the odd customer testimony too!

    This is undoubtedly a huge frustration – sure we’ve lost sales which no business enjoys; however it’s the confusion and extra work this has caused which compounds things. There have been industry mutterings reported by some news sites that this type of behaviour could be in the works from major manufacturers. It is pretty upsetting though that it was not communicated to us and other retailers fully until the procedure was finalised, orders had been placed and stock arrived.

    We hate disappointing our customers, which in this case we’ve had to do many times over by cancelling and refunding orders, in some cases to long standing and valued international clients.

    By the end of this week we should have a definitive update on the situation. We sent a Note 3 to offsite colleague Wardy in Thailand last week. He activated this there with a UK SIM. He could roam on the UK SIM but could not use his local Thai SIM, seeing the unlock SIM screen before he could proceed.

    We have since sent UK activated handsets to a few choice customers this week, on the basis that they can return them if they do not work with their local SIMs. These customers are in regions that include Africa, North America and the Middle East.

    Regardless of information from Samsung or anecdotes on forums and other blogs, we are conducting our own research on this, at our own costs, to cover all the bases.

    Especially now we are also beginning to see other Samsung devices (new stock of the S4 & S4 Mini) with the same restrictions and warning stickers on the packaging. We want to be 100% certain of the message we give out to anyone wanting to purchase a new Samsung device and provide any support we can to legitimate international clients

  • Just an update from my last message. I finally received the following by email from Samsung Customer Support:

    “I am very sorry to hear that you may not purchase a Note 3 due to the regional lock. In this e-mail, I will explain to you the reason for this.

    The reason for the regional lock is to ensure that devices aren’t being imported between regions illegally. However, this does not mean that you cannot use another SIM card in the phone while abroad.

    For instance, if you purchase a Note 3 in the UK and put a foreign SIM card in it, then it will lock and will need to be sent to a service centre to get unlocked. However, if you put a UK SIM card into the Note 3 first, then it will recognise that it is a UK SIM card in a UK model and wont lock. Then, if you go abroad, you can still use a foreign SIM card in it.

    We have seen a steady rise in complaints about people purchasing phones and tablets online and in local retail outlets that aren’t based to their specific region. What this means is that if we receive a call from someone who has a phone that originated in Asia, we have to send them to Samsung Asia as they have different parts for their models.

    This then leads to the customer having to pay a lot of money to get their device repaired. With the regional lock, we hope to stop this from happening.

    I hope this information has been of benefit to you and that you understand the regional lock a bit better now. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and we value and appreciate our customers thought and comments on the matter.”

    I think their excuse is mind boggling and they probably made it up as it bears no relation to the wording on the sticker. However if what they say is now true and Clove do confirm this after tests then I shall order one from Clove.

  • Hello,
    I do appreciate the clarification mail of Samsung Customer Support when they say “if you go abroad, you can still use a foreign SIM card in it”. However, here in France I did call Samsung Customer Service Hot Line, and the inquired about this issue. Their answer was clear cut, there is no way that the phone can work with another SIM card issued from other zone even if it was already properly activated, say (French Note 3 activated with French SIM provider). Furthermore that person on the Hot Line advised me that the only way to use the phone abroad is to use its activated SIM.
    All what we can understand from this situation is there is a big communication and coordination problem within Samsung Global organization. For a decent company it is believed that a good and clear clarification must be officially communicated. If we say so it is because we like this product but please a little more consideration for your costumes Mr Samsung.

  • I am glad you are running your own tests. I did one of my own too. I bought a Region locked UK Note 3, put my Vodafone UK sim card in it and made a few calls, sent a few texts and browsed the web. All fine. I then removed my UK sim card and replaced it with one from Dubai that I use whenever I go out there on business. THe phone requested a pass code in order to allow me to use the device. I have since returned the device and got a refund as I argued that I was sold the phone under false pretences as the store made no mention that the phone would not be able to be used abroad. I feel this is a very low blow from Samsung and whilst I understand that they may be trying to restrict warranty claims in one country with devices from another, this doesn’t help me, an international business traveller, one bit. As this device was touted as a productivity device, if I had gone abroad and tried to use my UAE sim, I wouldn’t have been able to use the device for its intended purpose.

    Samsung will never rescind this policy, they are too big and care not one jot about the man in the street. It’s just another way for them to bend us over and shaft us and make us keep coming back for more. I refuse to use Samsung devices ever again and I will be moving my office away from Samsung mobiles now (some thirty devices) purely because we all travel abroad on business and need to know our work phones will actually… well… ‘work. when we go abroad.

    • Thanks for sharing Steven.
      This test shows exactly the opposite of the original information Samsung provided that says ‘foreign’ SIMs would work following the correct activation within the UK. Disappointing to say the least.
      Your statement about moving the office away from Samsung is what could really hurt them. Not caring about the ‘man in the street’ is one thing for a business their size, but if they start losing big contracts off the back of this, that’s where things could get bad for them.
      It’s already going to be difficult to manage the PR backlash. Anyway cheers for the update, every personal account is worth hearing on this matter

    • I don’t mean to be funny ‘Steven’, but are you sure you haven’t gotten the Region lock and the Network lock confused?

      • Don’t think so Keith – Steven mentioned activating with a UK SIM then having a passcode requested when trying to use a Dubai SIM afterwards.
        The region lock manifests itself in a similar way to a network SIM lock. It brings up a dialogue box to enter an unlock code and refuses access to the device without it.
        In laymans terms the software can easily do this by finding country code information on the SIM and checking against a list stored on the phone.
        It’s very similar to network locking where the network provider’s information is found from the SIM and checked against records, although the exact mechanism differs slightly.

  • Bigger BS I never read – ‘someone who has a phone that originated in Asia, we have to send them to Samsung Asia as they have different parts for their models.’
    ANd once again unlocking first time with phone SIM card is not working for SIM card from country on blacklist in firmware.

  • Apparently in Hong Kong the Note 3 is being sold genuinely unlocked, i.e. no issues with non-HK SIM cards at all. Plus they’re around 20% cheaper there. Not sure if there are contractual issues but it might be worth Clove looking into importing from HK to sell in Europe? Would be pretty ironic if a policy officially intended to stop so-called “grey imports” actually led to a massive increase in them due to this nonsense.

    Once the HK based Ebay sellers work out what an opportunity they have to sell genuine worldwide unlocked Samsung phones I suspect they’ll cash in. As yet they seem unaware of it.

    • in some countries, locking of phones is illegal, think singalore is one such country. hong kong is getting an inferior 16gb model only. i dont know if it is truly unlocked or the user just used a sim not in the MCC block list. you can view the csc file and MCC block list as mentioned in another one of my comments on this post.

      there are some claims that the bahrain version (snapdragon version) does not have region lock

    • but the exynos based phone does not have LTE like the snapdragon version and hong kong version is 16gb only

  • Hi Tchai, thanks for that, we’ve all seen those rumours too.
    Considering the frustration the current situation is causing I think it would be a very low probability that Samsung would roll this out to existing devices in an update.
    It’s not impossible by any means but I think it would cause the a huge PR upset and risk them losing a lot of custom.
    We’re always on the side of the customer here and when we get definitive information we’ll share it ASAP

    • Cheers for the heads up John.
      Unfortunately due to our retail ties with Samsung UK we’re pretty much bound to only sell the UK (European) stock.
      We could locate these unlocked dual SIM units, import them and sell them on but quite frankly if we did so Samsung UK wouldn’t be pleased (to say the least) and the costs would go up as well due to reshipping across the world from Asia and back etc.
      Plus it would be unlikely we could find easily find a legitimate channel to get hold of them. I doubt we could get them from the officially sanctioned Samsung suppliers in Asia so we would be relying on a trader making their own profits.
      It’s a nice idea but the risks, price and likely antagonising of Samsung UK just make the whole venture not viable unfortunately.

    • Thanks for that Robert.
      Well it’s not an official app so we can’t sanction the use of it ourselves but it’s always good to see enterprising individuals out there trying to help 🙂

    • its only for rooted users and does not work without rooting so wont be usable by the vast majority of buyers. for those who dont want to root it might be worth checking out the paid unlocking service from the russian website mentioned on the xda thread discussing this issue.

  • I’ve asked this regioal lock issue to Samsung and here are the replies:

    “Dear Mete,

    Thank you for contacting Samsung Telecommunications America.

    After reviewing your email, we understand that you have ordered a Note 3 device from Amazon and want to know if it is unlocked.

    We should inform you that the devices sold by Amazon are factory unlocked and can be used globally. If there was any unlock codes to be entered, you can find all the codes in the device box or will be provided by Amazon.”

    I’ve asked it to Amazon and waiting an answer from Amazon.

    Samsung’s reply to my second mail:

    “Dear Ahmet,

    Thank you for contacting Samsung Customer Support.

    I’m sorry you have some concerns regarding the purchase of a Note 3. I can understand your frustration about this as you would like to use this device in other countries.

    Please note we do not lock any of our devices to any particular network. Some service providers may lock handsets to their own network, in order to ensure continued usage with them during the length of a user contract for example, which means only the service provider will have any unlock code for the handset.

    You will need to contact the original service provider or retailer for your handset to request an unlock code. This is not something that Samsung can do on your behalf.

    The UK does not have any laws governing SIM locking, however some service providers may allow you to unlock the handset for a small charge, or for free, whereas others may not allow the handset to be unlocked at all.

    If there is anything else we can help with, please let us know.”

    I’ve sent them a third mail to explain them this is not a sim lock that is put by any GSM operator, it is a lock put by Samsung to phone’s firmware. I’m waiting for the reply.

    • Cheers Martin, that’s turning into a MONSTER thread over there at XDA…
      Glossing over the deep details it seems like the blacklist files for other countries are still present on these devices.
      An OTA update has also surfaced which appears to have been rolled out quickly and quietly in the last few days.
      What needs to confirmed by the guys posting at XDA is if this ‘unlocking’ is due to:
      1) The device being activated ‘correctly’ on a European SIM and then used for some time on said SIM (to perhaps verify the activation) which has then removed the lock
      2) The recent OTA update released by Samsung removing the lock completely
      3) The recent OTA update released by Samsung changing the blacklist of locked countries
      The plot thickens once again

  • Answer to my third mail from Samsung.

    Your question

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    I”ve received your reply about the question that I”ve asked. Than you for that.

    In the reply sim lock was mentioned. But what I asked is a Region Lock, as it is stated on the boxes of Samsung Galaxy Note 3(N9005 Model only). You can also easily see the comments and videos related to this region lock issue if you search from internet. Again I”m focusing on it, this is not a sim lock that GSM operators put for the phone, it is a Region Lock that was integrated in the firmware of the phone by Samsung. I want to get info about this lock.


    Mete Arslanoglu

    Counselor answer

    Dear Ahmet,

    Thank you for contacting Samsung Customer Support.

    I’m sorry for any confusion regarding recent changes made by Samsung to regional devices. Regarding your query, please see the official statement provided by Samsung below.

    In order to provide customers with the optimal mobile experience in each region including customer care services, Samsung has incorporated the ‘regional SIM lock’ feature into GALAXY Note 3 devices.

    The product is only compatible with a SIM-card issued from a mobile operator within the region identified on the sticker of the product package. When the device is activated with a SIM card issued from the other region, the device may be automatically locked until it is released at the dedicated service centre.

    Once a device is activated normally, the regional SIM lock is automatically released. Users can enjoy the roaming service as usual and can use other region’s SIM card when travelling.

    The regional SIM lock has been applied to the GALAXY Note II and GALAXY S4 devices through a software update in selective markets.

    The regional SIM lock does NOT affect the device’s features and performance. Users can continue to enjoy all the advanced features of our products.

    While we don’t actually set any policy at this department, I have passed your comments on to our management teams for consideration. If there is anything else we can help with, please let us know.

    If there is anything else we can help with, please let us know.

    Our Customer Support Team love feedback! Share your thoughts on this response by completing the survey at the bottom of this page.

    Kind regards,

    • Cheers for sharing again Mete.
      So basically Samsung have provided you with the same statement they sent out a couple of weeks ago, despite several people’s experiences contradicting it.
      I called out Samsung Backstage on Facebook a few days ago to say that their statements were being contradicted by service centre staff and received no response.

      At this time it’s looking highly unlikely that any direct statement from Samsung that completely explains the situation is going to surface. A massive shame.

  • Josh

    Picking up on your questions, I have added some responses in square brackets below:

    “What needs to confirmed by the guys posting at XDA [[[COMMENT: strictly speaking it needs to be confirmed by Samsung which of course continues to hide behind the same stock statement whatever they might say in the local call centre]]] is if this ‘unlocking’ is due to:

    1) The device being activated ‘correctly’ on a European SIM and then used for some time on said SIM (to perhaps verify the activation) which has then removed the lock [[[COMMENT: for some users the regional lock is never applied,for others it continues to apply for a significant sometimes unlimited length of time – so some suggestion that silent calls are being made by the phone back to Samsung servers which would give rise to data protection law concerns to be an issue if correct as no informed consent about this?]]]

    2) The recent OTA update released by Samsung removing the lock completely [[[COMMENT: No, it seems at least some of those with working phones still have MCC-based NetworkLocks set out in CSC.]]]

    3) The recent OTA update released by Samsung changing the blacklist of locked countries [[[COMMENT: No, it seems at least some of those with working phones still have the same list of MCC-based NetworkLocks set out in CSC after the recent OTA. Of course Samsung could still have adapted related code or altered any (if any) secret Samsung server-side routines to alter the so-called “activation” process whatever that may or may not be?]]]”

    Also, thank you for continuing to update your blog – it is much appreciated.

    • Cheers Derek, sure it needs to be confirmed by Samsung but given that so far they’ve only provided some safe marketing speak in lieu of a direct statement explaining the situation plainly, I think we can be pretty sure this isn’t going to happen any time soon.

      In response:
      1) The silent call theory would of course raise data protection issues – the EU has shown it’s no stranger to getting involved in such activity. Of course proof would be required. Any of those enterprising individuals over at XDA able to create some kind of call tracking application? Something that runs in the background from startup and logs the radio to see if it’s calling / receiving?

      2) Also I’ve heard different batches have different blacklists also, even within the ‘European’ model. Has anyone been able to locate which batches have which lists etc? If runs of serial/IMEI numbers could be being affected differently by updates etc?

      Of course as you say, Samsung’s backend systems are the black box. They could effectively change anything at their end to negate the client side operations. Ho hum, the plot continues to thicken. Here’s hoping against hope Samsung actually provide a decent plain language explanation or simply decide to scrap this in future devices seeing the ruckus it’s caused.

  • Why would Samsung push the region lock to already SOLD old handsets (S3 & N2) using SW update. That’s pure evil. For NEW devices they could just make the model name i9505-EU or i9505-USA to clearly inform the customers what region device they are buying. Region lock is just another DRM scheme gone south.

  • Agree that minimal information (in writing) beyond bland stock answer being (or likely to be) provided by Samsung.

    On point (1), one other place that Samsung mention the need for “activation” is for the Knox container. This activation is by an “attestation” process in which according to Samsung (https://www.samsungknox.com/overview/technical-details): “In the factory, each device is provisioned a unique pair of public/private keys along with a certificate for the public key, which is signed by a Samsung root private key. At attestation time, an attestation server sends a random challenge to the device to be tested.”. I suppose that Samsung’s insistence on “activation” to release the regional SIM lock might involve such an external challenge/authentication process to compare the unique device in Samsung’ records with the SIM information returned by the device and result in the release of the regional lock too?

    On point (2), it seems that there is some consistency/pattern in lists within Samsung’s CSC regions. For example, it appears a reasonable assumption that currently:

    – for European region locked devices: the CSCs’ OXX, AUT, DBT and PHN have 38 MCC NetworkLock list and CSC OXA has 63 MCC NetworkLock list.
    – for Middle East region locked devices: in the case of CSC XXU, a 50 MCC NetworkLock list has been seen.
    – for Americas region locked devices: in the case of CSC UUB, a 20 MCC NetworkLock list has been seen.

    But it seems not all CSC region codes within a particular regional grouping (ie Europe, Middle East or Americas, so far) have a MCC NetworkLock list in their CSC. And even if they do have such a list, there is seemingly inconsistency as to which devices with a MCC NetworkLock list in their CSC suffer the enforcement of that regional lock. One point of relative certainty though seems to be, no device without the MCC blocklist in its CSC (whether pre-installed or as a result of upgrade) has been reported to be regionally locked yet.

  • To be perfectly honest with you Nav, we still cannot be certain.
    Do you happen to have an Indian SIM available at home?
    Some reports (read the other comments in this thread) are saying that the handset may unlock after several days use following a correct activation. So if you are using the handset in the UK for about a month then you might be in luck.
    The official Samsung statement is that this is the case – a UK/European activation will mean you can use the device with an external country’s SIM (although it looks like a few days may be required to verify this activation).
    If you have an Indian SIM right now, I suggest popping it in after the device has been activated for a couple of weeks and seeing if you get a message prompting for an unlock code. If you do, then this means the phone is still region locked

  • and now this reply, from Samsung on their own UK website Q&A:

    (see question titled “Activated normally”?)
    “Activated normally is by entering a sim card into the phone from the country it was manufactured for. Once this sim card has activated this phone you can insert a sim from any other country within the constituency region EG: EU and the phone will work.”

    Yes, read it carefully! That is right, according to Samsung activating a UK sold phone allows it to work with any *EU* SIM.

    Since that Samsung answer conflcts with other Samsung answers on the same page, which in their turn conflcit with user reports on the XDA forum, I really don’t think even Samsung knows what their own policy is and what exactly is the “activation” procedure and its result.

  • I purchased Note 3 at mygsmstore.com and it worked in Germany and Russia, no problems at all.

  • I want to buy the Note 3 to take back to Australia with me on the 25th. Will use my UK sim till then. I have my Optus sim with me and will put that in to see if it works. The retail shop rep says I should not have any problem but after reading all the posts above I am having serious doubts. Perhaps I should just buy it in Australia and not have to stress about the region lock.

    Hope my Australian Note 2 does not lock as I am giving it to my brother here in UK.

    • There won’t be any issue with using the UK SIM obviously.
      The official line is that the lock will disappear due to the correct activation so the Optus SIM will work after. Reports are varying and newer stock may work differently to the first few batches.
      Do you have the Optus SIM with you in the UK? If you do then just try it in the shop. Ask the rep to activate it for you on a UK SIM then put your Optus SIM in and see if it locks or not.

  • If I lived in Australia then I would probably but from Kogan. There’s another big online retail whose name I forget which has a better reputation.

    My Note 2 N7105 came from Kogan as it was my brother’s. Kogan had bought it from their supplier in HK so I had to find a YouTube video showing the steps to change it from Chinese to English!

  • Thanks for your response, Josh. Some have said that it needs to be activated with the UK sim for two weeks or so. I don’t have that much time left. Also, the reps are not willing to break the regional lock sticker on the box for me, on the chance that my Optus sim might work. I will try again tomorrow with them. 🙂

    Samsung has done a major boo boo! From what I hear, the Australian packet does not have the regional lock sticker on it.

  • Another reply from Samsung Customer Relations…

    Your question
    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I want to learn more about the region lock of N9005 Note 3. I””ve bought one Note 3 from Amazon and want to use it in Azerbaijan and Turkey. If I can not initially insert a UK sim card, can I ask a network unlock code from you and if I can get this code can I freely use my phone freely without any limitation?

    – I could not select N9005 from model number from the menu, that’s why I select N7105.

    Mete Arslanoglu

    Counselor answer

    Dear Mete,

    Thank you for contacting Samsung Customer Support.

    I’m sorry that this information has not been made more readily available for you.

    In regards to your query it is unfortunately the case that you will need to put a European sim card into the device before the region lock is lifted. Please be advised that if there is a network lock on the device you will need to get this from the network provider that the device is locked to as we would not have this code. Even when this network unlock code is inserted the device will still need to have the region lock lifted by inserting a European sim card.

    If there is anything else we can help with, please let us know.

    Our Customer Support Team love feedback! Share your thoughts on this response by completing the survey at the bottom of this page.

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Mete, be careful when talking to support about confusing a “network lock” with the “region lock”.
      A network lock is when you get a phone from a provider and they lock it so it can’t be used on other networks. Samsung are unable to provide the codes for this, as they said in their response.
      If you have a SIM free device then there is “network lock”, there is only the “region lock”, which is what this whole thread is about.
      Samsung should, at least according to their official statements from last week, offer to remove the region lock, if you ask them.
      If you mix up or use both types of lock in your question then they will only provide a muddled response like the one above.
      Try asking them again, but only refer to the region lock. Say your device was purchased SIM free and you have used a UK SIM card, however you are unsure if the lock has been lifted correctly. See what their response is to that.

      • There are lots of unclear things in this region lock issue. I’ve watched videos and read comments. Samsung made a mess about this. For removing the region lock 3 codes to be entered and first one is the network unlock code. It allows your sim card to be unlocked and add it in the white carrier list. That’s why I asked network lock. If you consider the issue there is a lock on the carrier that you want to use. If you check the online unlock sites, they are asking the carrier that the phone is locked. It looks like you’re trying to unlock the sim locked phone.

  • Just been to the Note 3 support page on Samsung UK and all of the questions & responses referring to the region lock have been deleted. There were a dozen or so there the other week when I checked. The ability to ask a question for the Note 3 also appears to be blocked, pressing the button does nothing.

    Bit of a bad show, now Samsung is censoring itself in a bid to stop misinformation from the support teams!

    • Maybe just a remporary glitch (or they blocked your IP address 😉 ?) – I have just checked and can still see all the Q/As here:

      I note with some amusement two of their answers:
      Q – Region Locked Phone
      A – “The regional lock means the product is only compatible with a SIM card issued from a mobile operator within the region identified on the sticker of the product package.

      Once a device is activated normally, the regional SIM lock is automatically released.”

      compare with:
      Q – “Activated normally”?
      A – “Hi Martin,
      Activated normally is by entering a sim card into the phone from the country it was manufactured for. Once this sim card has activated this phone you can insert a sim from any other country within the constituency region EG: EU and the phone will work.”

      Yup, read that last line carefully.

      • And they’re back! Hmm maybe a glitch. Or someone saw this post!
        Yes the last line is a bone of contention, any country within the “constituency region”.
        So not countries outside of that region, although other comments from them say you can.
        We’ve put words to this effect up on the product page and then had customer emails telling us that Samsung support have said our website is wrong! Contradicting their own message twice!
        Personally I think the lock implementation is broken on a number of devices so no-one actually knows how it *supposed* to work anymore

  • i bought mine from vodafone on contract and at the same time bought an unlock code from vodafone for £20 and am using another sim in it as prefer another network.

    probably clove should consider offering an unlock service, seeing as samsung seem to be doing it with all their new phones now.

    apart from the puman website which charges $25 looks like on xda some have said that http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/161120336570?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649 works as well for £6 but looks like they are charging more now. I havent used them but some xda post seems to say it works.

  • I have the same problem.. My uncle bought me an SM-N900 Unlocked Note3 from Orlando Bestbuy Store. Neither the salesguy nor Samsung mentioned/warned specificly about a “Region-Lock” while he was buying however he told that the phone is going to be used in another country (Turkey). So what i did was simply putting my Turkcell sim card in and unexpectedly the “network sim unlock pin” screen popped-up. I was shocked and called my uncle first to confirm he bought a sim-free phone for me and yep he did. I quickly gone through the forums in XDA, found the region lock away app from the respected Dev Chainfire, installed and ran it and buzz… No result ( didnt blame Chainfire though he noted its tested and verified only it Works in EU version) I had to root to phone to ran that app (i will come to that point in the end)..

    After that i delivered the phone to Samsung Turkey for unlocking, 10 days and no result. They told that they communicated with Samsung HQ and get an unlock code (somehow), but it didnt work. They told me to try “alternative” methods!! Say WHAT?? Samsung cant handle its own issue…

    I didnt gave up on it. I tried those unlocker sites that gave some codes for your IMEI number.. After some tries, i got the SAME codes from 3 different sites ( i wonder how it happened, maybe they are using the same database of something) and not just one code, 4 different headlined codes..NETWORK, PROVIDER, SUBPROVIDER, DEFREEZE codes.. But all of them didnt work and i posted some videos, screenshots to them about the errors.

    Finally, Samsung announced this… NOW; i did not activate my phone with sim card from that region as mentioned (now i demanded a US sim-card from my friend who is coming to Turkey next week and will try that method BUT i didnt not activate the phone with that card the first time so i am hopeless for that option also), my phone is rooted and the alternative methods are over on the net(as long as i install a custom-rom which is non-sense for a brand new phone if you ask me). From my point, my phone is dead as a brick now..Hooray Samsung for your brilliant marketing movement that “protects” your valuable customers…..

  • this is getting worse by the day as now they have started region locking phones that get software updates when you travel abroad even if you bought the unlocked phone in another country and used it there for a while! see a buyer who bought unlocked phone in india and used it there for a while and later travels for a short while in the netherlands and gets software update while using netherland sim and now he finds phone locked to EU and no longer able to use India sim even though unlocked phone bought and used in India and only travelling to netherlands! getting more and more atrocious by the day http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=47607737&postcount=1377 Any person that intends to use their samsung phone abroad with local sim or indeed any business traveller that uses multiple sims will find unwanted shocks if they use samsung phones now even if they bought unlocked phones!

    • Wow. If that’s the case and he has had a European update pushed to his unlocked Asian model phone then something has seriously gone wrong at Samsung’s end.
      Thanks for sharing once again Vinay and I hope the gent in question gets his phone sorted by Samsung soon

  • I bought unlocked S4 mini dual sim for my Mom who is here in US visiting from Europe. Before I ordered it from US website I asked them about region lock and they assured me it is not region locked.

    Phone arrived couple of days ago with the region lock sticker for North and South Americas. I was going to return it but I read Samsung’s statements about activating with right SIM card and talk to 5 minutes before region lock is permanently erased. I decided to give it a try. Inserted my US T-mobile SIM card, made a 5 minute phone call and then inserted my Mom’s European SIM’s. Phone recognized both of them right away without asking for any codes. They are obviously in roaming. So far no issues, I can send texts from her phone and make phone calls too (with European SIM’s inside). I just hope when she goes back to Europe next week it will stay that way. That the roaming will disappear and the phone will not lock once she returns to her network.

    Phone is running 4.2.2 Android version.

    • Hi Max, thanks for sharing.
      It’s good to hear that following the activation procedure a stated by Samsung appears to be working for the time being.
      Lets hope no future updates mess this up – I would inform her to be wary of installing any updates received whilst in Europe, a comment or two below outline some unexpected actions after doing this.
      If you could comment back in a few weeks’ time with any info that would be most appreciated 🙂

      • The USA phones that are region locked don’t have many EU countries in their CSC which can be confirmed by using test codes as described in my previous posts here and as mentioned on the xda thread linked here earlier.

        The phone might still be region locked for the countries in the CSC MCC block list file.

        Good news for the prayer is that his mum’s phone will work in her country with that sim they used. Bad news is that if they had the region lock sticker then it is a region locked phone but from their use scenario described there is no way to confirm that It is deactivated for region lock unless CSC is known via dialer codes and MCC file is accessed via es file explorer to read list of blocked countries as described on the xda thread.

  • Josh,

    I disabled automatic software update after reading about that dude from India visiting Holland. I don’t care if the phone is running 4.2.2 or 4.3 version. It’s not likely my Mom will wear smart watch anytime soon:)

    Anyways, she will be back to Europe this Sunday and I will keep you updated if her phone still works.

    • Good thinking Max, hopefully everything will be all right then.
      If your mum isn’t going to need any of the new features then that sounds like the perfect option

  • The reason I moved from Nokia was more or less similar to this. They used to limit the languages that could be supported on a phone, meaning for a multilingual person, their phones were an inconvenience. High end smart phones like the Note 3 are most likely to be bought by people who frequently travel. I think Samsung will feel the effect of this very soon.

  • I am happy to report that my Mom’s phone is working in Europe. She texted me this morning from airports in Franfurt, Ljubljana and Sarajevo. Roaming also disappeared once she returned to her network.

  • hello, i just purchased from amazon n9005.

    i wasn’t aware of this region lock thing.

    i’ve already rooted and tried region lock away without result.

    is puman.ru pretty secure site?

    damn… sammy this will be my last sammy phone.

    thanks ahead guys

    • Hi drleepark, rooting should allow you to get rid of the region lock, although you may invalidate your warranty by doing this.
      puman.ru seems to be well received by a number of our customers and other reporters. We can’t guarantee their service will work on your phone, however they seem to be the most reliable unlocking site we found based on our customer’s reports

  • Guys can u pls tell me that when n9005 model will be released in India. I m deeply waited for it

    • Hello Sukalpa, Samsung have made the decision to release the N9000 version in India at present; the official launch of any other model is up to them.
      Stock purchased from Clove and other retailers will be region locked by default.
      Should you wish to contact us about this then an email to our sales team at sales@clove.co.uk would be the first step

  • Hello there josh, I just bought a note3 SM-N9005 …4.3 I’m in Kuwait and I’m using an Indian sim but the phone Won’t recognize my sim and it asks for a sim network unlock code…what can I do,josh??

    • Hi Shiv, where did you buy the phone from and did the box have a warning sticker on it like the one shown in our original post?
      Most models of the Note 3 have a region lock installed – if you have activated the phone for the first time with a SIM card from an ‘unsupported’ region, then they device will likely be locked until you speak to Samsung. I would suggest returning to the retailer if you have that option.
      If you read the original post and these comments fully then there is a thorough explanation of the region lock, how it works and possible methods to bypass it.
      If you cannot contact the retailer or Samsung, your best option may now be to pay a small fee at a registered unlocking website such as the one featured in our blog (this is not run by Clove and we receive none of your payment)

    • Hello Boky, as far as I know a model bought from Germany will class as ‘European’ and Egypt as an ‘African’ region so if a region lock is present it would affect you.
      If you have turned on and activated the Note 3 for the first time in Europe with a European SIM card, then everything should be OK. Just make sure to make at least 5 minutes of voice call on the device to be certain before switching to an Egyptian carrier

  • Samsung are liars and imposters!!! I activated my Note 3 device in Europe with a local card and I used that card for more than 3 days. After that I went to Thailand I found that it is impossible to use any local sim card there! So the Samsung’s statement about the activation routine it is an insolence and lie. I was planning also to buy Samsung table, but after they make my holiday connection-less I don’t think I’ll give them even a cent. Never again Samsung products!

  • Did you make any calls during that period in europe, and if so, was it more than 5 minutes worth in total?

  • Is there a performance difference between the Snapdragon 800 and Samsung Exynos 5 Octa (1.9 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 + 1.3 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7) Core variants in terms of UI fluency thanks in advance.

    • Hello Ibrahim, if you are able to notice any difference between the UI fluency / animation speed etc. in these two models then you have much better eyes than most!
      The basic tasks these two processors will perform (such as running the OS, animations and system applications) are so simple that they should bear almost no influence on performance.
      The main reason I can see for choosing one version over the other is if you are mobile developer and want to code applications that will specifically make use of the 8 cores.

  • I recently contacted samsung india,saudi arabia and uk.
    india says they have no codes to unlock a saudi arabian note 3.
    uk on the other hand emailed me that a 5 min call in saudi would unlock the phone.
    They still seem pretty confident about that.
    Now i am wondering if I should get the note 3 or not.

    • Hello Aqeel, as far as I am aware, Note 3s sold in India do not have a SIM lock, so it would make sense for Samsung India not to have an unlock procedure. If I am wrong on this now someone please correct me 🙂

      The information from Samsung UK seems contradictory to me although you have not specified which version of the phone you are referring to.
      A Note 3 bought from Saudi Arabia would be unlocked through a 5 minute call in Saudi with a Saudi (or other eligible Middle Eastern) SIM.
      A Note 3 bought from the UK would be unlocked through a 5 minute call in the UK /Europe with a UK (or other eligible European) SIM.

      Again if I am now wrong and this has changed then I welcome up to date information

  • Should i update my phone to latest firmware before following the 5 min procedure?
    Also, if i unlock a note 3 through the unlocking site,would any future updates to the phone bring back the lock to it?

  • it is not just a case of sticking in a regional sim card and activating it, you need to make a 5-10 minute call using the sim card from the same region, for example, a UK bought N9005 lte can use any sim card within the EU and EAA countries and it will remove the Region lock. I do not know about Network branded Note 3’s as mines is an unbranded one.

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