Android this week: Galaxy Note 3 (un-)locked; LG G2 reviewed; Kindle Fire HDX launched

android-this-week

A few new Android devices were announced this week, but an upcoming one, the Galaxy Note 3, was front and center for attention. A sticker on the outside of the handset, which is currently available overseas, indicated the handset would be SIM-locked to the region it was sold in. For an unlocked, GSM handset, that’s simply not acceptable to potential buyers; particularly if they travel internationally.

Samsung SIM lock

The situation became even more confusing late in the week when a Samsung representative from Germany explained the situation. Even thought the sticker clearly indicates the Note 3 is region-locked, the phone will work with SIM cards outside of the sales region provided it is first activated with a SIM from the initial sales region. My colleague in Berlin, David Meyer explains:

“Let’s say you buy the device in Germany and want to take it with you on a trip to the U.S. If you activate it for the first time using a German SIM card, you’re good to go. If you want to activate it for the first time with a U.S. SIM card while abroad, you will need to find a local Samsung service partner to unlock it for you.”

Assuming the Samsung representative from Germany is correctly speaking on behalf of all Samsung international divisions, the situation isn’t as bad as initially thought. Of course, clearer language from Samsung at time of sale — the sticker on the box, for example — would be helpful.

Galaxy Note3 S-view Cover_005_Front set

The idea is to block sales on the gray market but this seems more annoying to legitimate customers interested in the Note 3 — or any Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 mini, Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III devices produced after July.

One new handset that isn’t region locked is the LG G2. Alex Colon shared his review earlier this week, saying

“The LG G2 is a very good phone. It’s arguably the best phone LG has released to date. And yet it’s a hard phone to recommend.

If not for all the needless software modifications and the frustrating button placement, the LG G2 would be one of the best Android phones available. At it stands, you get a far more polished experience with phones like the HTC One and the Galaxy S 4.”

The device’s speed and performance is without question and the camera is solid too. But hardware is only part of the equation; software and the user interface are equally important, if not more so. Check the whole review to see if the G2 is what you’re looking for in a large handset.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Jeff Bezos

If tablets are your thing, Amazon has a few new ones. Like the old Kindle Fire lineup, these are based on Google Android, but with Amazon’s own user interface and without Google services. The new Kindle Fire HDX tablets come in a 7-inch ($229) and 8.9-inch ($379) size.

It’s an interesting approach as the small tablet seems to compete squarely against Google’s own $229 Nexus 7 while the larger Kindle Fire HDX is priced under the slightly larger iPad. Both are aimed at Amazon customers who want to watch Instant Videos, read Kindle ebooks, and consume other content that Amazon is happy to provide.

 

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