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

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A few new Android(s goog) 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(s amzn) 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(s aapl). 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.


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

  1. hotfairy87

    I have bought a T-Mobile note 3, after getting service with them, i have to have service for 60 days as the Representative ( Ryan) told me . I asked could it be possible to get it unlock if i buy it out right? he said after the 90 days you can, so that’s where i am stuck now.. i just want to unlock my phone so i can use it with my current provider (family-mobile which is provided by t-mobile). I also checked it out, i can’t put my Sim card (family-mobile ) in it and its locked. I contacted samsung online chat, and phone support, they said they are just the manufactured company and can’t provide with an unlock code, that is up to the carrier as in: AT&T,Sprint,Verizon and T-Mobile. If you can’t get an unlock code with those providers then basically you can’t use your phone with any provider. so now you have to either wait the 60days or unlock it your self via 3 party.

  2. I’m sure that Samsung will loose a lot of sales to this issue, there are a lot of people traveling overseas and changing sim cards to local carriers when they travel. So if you pay full price for a Samsung note 3, it should be unlocked period, regardless what carrier you purchased it from.

  3. I simply don’t understand this kind of black mark on three LG G2. I first purchased the HTC One and thought out was a great phone but the on/off button annoyed me and the camera software also and as a heavy user though the battery power on the HTC One is better than most i decided to look at the LG G2. I bought it and have found out superior to the HTC One in every way except for build quality of the body of the phone but most everyone uses a case so ours not really an issue and the LG G 2 has such a nice display and its so thin. I love it. The controls on the back are nice and easy to get used to. I’m sick of these superficial reviews by those who haven’t really used the phone for any length of time. Buy the phone you’ll love it. It has 10:42 of continuous video play vs Samsung’s S4 having 6:41. Battery is a big issue with more but this phone quality is excellent.

    • It’s a non-issue for most buyers if you and other people bothered to follow along with what has been revealed: If you buy a Note 3 in a store (say, in London) then the SIM card the phone is FIRST ACTIVATED WITH must also be from that same region, which will unlock the device from that point onward to allow you to travel and use any SIM card anywhere else. Since *most* people usually activate their phones with a SIM card from a carrier in the same region as the phone they bought, 95% of you can ignore the internet’s belly-aching and continue about your normal lives. As for the rest of you who might buy a Note 3 online from Hong Kong and then ship it over to the United States and expect it to be unlocked using an AT&T SIM card, yeah – you may experience difficulties if you didn’t think ahead a bit beforehand.

      • That’s actually not true. gfung on XDA forums has tested a new UK Galaxy Note 3 by activating it with his vodaphone sim card and then swapping out a Hong Kong sim card with roaming enabled. No dice. It’s locked.

        The sticker is correct. The sales rep is either lying or simply uninformed. The phones are region locked and if you purchase one, it won’t work outside your region.

        I have no interest in a Galaxy Note 3 now. Then thing about high end phone buyers is we tend to travel much more than people who cannot afford high end phones.

        At this point, buy Samsung at your own risk. I say bring on the next Nexus phone or a Sony Z1. The Z1 is a better phone anyway, and the Nexus will probably be just as good at half the price.