Blog Post

Samsung admits its region-locking scheme hasn’t gone to plan (whatever that plan was)

Samsung has finally acknowledged that there is a problem with its region-locking of current smartphones such as the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3. In a German-language statement (why, Samsung, why?) on Thursday, the firm said it had not anticipated the uncertainty its move would introduce.

To recap that uncertainty: first Samsung started putting stickers on its retail boxes saying the phones wouldn’t work with SIM cards from other regions; then it said this only applied to initial activation; and then many users reported that the devices really couldn’t use SIM cards from other regions after all, or at least that the deactivation of this lock wasn’t working as promised.

At least by that point we knew the feature was based on a blacklist of blocked countries.

Today, Samsung said the regional SIM lock feature would remain in place, but it was working on making the procedure friendlier for consumers (my suggestion: drop the region-locking). Samsung said it needed more time to answer everyone’s questions satisfactorily (my top question: why do this in the first place?).

In the meantime, those having trouble getting the lock removed should go bother Samsung’s customer service. Good luck!

Here’s a short English version of the statement, put out by Samsung on Monday 21 October (after this story’s original publication):

“We are working to improve and simplify the way the regional SIM lock is released, in order to provide convenience for our customers. The new solution will be announced as soon as it is ready.”

And for those who read German, here’s that original statement in full:

“Wir versichern, dass das angenehme und reibungslose Nutzererlebnis unserer Kunden mit Samsung-Produkten für uns oberste Priorität hat. Selbstverständlich nehmen wir uns das Feedback unserer Kunden zu Herzen.

“Dass die regionale SIM-Lock-Funktion in diesem Maße für Verunsicherung sorgt, haben wir nicht erwartet. Daher haben wir in den letzten Tagen die vielen Fragen gesammelt und ausgewertet.

“Die regionale SIM-Lock-Funktion auf aktuellen Samsung-Produkten wird weiterhin Bestand haben. Derzeit prüfen wir jedoch intensiv, wie wir das Verfahren insgesamt zur Zufriedenheit unserer Kunden optimieren und vereinfachen können. Um alle Fragen zufriedenstellend beantworten zu können, benötigen wir jedoch noch etwas Zeit.

“Sollten Nutzer bis dahin Probleme bei der Deaktivierung der regionalen SIM-Lock-Funktion haben, können sie sich direkt an den Kundendienst wenden. Dieser unterstützt gern beim Freischaltungsprozess, sodass Kunden ihr Gerät uneingeschränkt nutzen können.”

12 Responses to “Samsung admits its region-locking scheme hasn’t gone to plan (whatever that plan was)”

  1. I activated everything properly with my Dutch Galaxy Note II (activated it in The Netherlands with a Dutch sim card) and it still doesn’t recognize a China Unicom sim card in Beijing. Samsung’s customer service is being completely unhelpful. Now I”m pestering the insurance company that gave me this piece of crap to replace it with something that actually works worldwide.

  2. derKleineHannes

    Hi everybody. I’m a German native speaker and this is my best shot at translating their statement. Although I tried my best – this is NOT the official wording by Samsung. In particular I didn’t know how best to translate the word “Verunsicherung”, which literally means the opposite of “ascertain”, but as a noun – so I translated it as “worry”. Here it goes:

    We ascertain that the comfortable and frictionless user experience of our customers with Samsung products is our highest priority. We will of course take the feedback of our customers to heart.

    We had not expected that the regional SIM lock function to worry our customers to this extent. For this reason we have collected many questions in the last few days and assessed them.

    The regional SIM lock function on the current Samsung products will still exist in future. At this point we are inspecting closely how to optimize and simplify the procedure for our customers. However, in order to answer all questions satisfactorily, we will need some more time.

    If until then users should face problems deactivating the regional SIM lock function, they may contact our customer service directly, who will gladly assist you through the unlocking procedure, so that customers may use their device without restrictions.


    • David Meyer

      I have no problem with Samsung putting out a statement in German. I do have a problem with them *only* putting out a statement in German, when the issue affects people all over the world. It’s not exactly the most widely-spoken language.