Though issues with the regional SIM lock on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 have persisted, developers have quickly stepped in with a fix for those savvy Samsung fans who would rather not wait for the Korean manufacturer’s next move.
While Samsung insists that Galaxy Note 3 region locking has been set in place to combat illegal “grey market” importing, and can simply be resolved by activating a Note 3 handset with a compatible same-region SIM card, many early adopters of the Note 3 have found they still have issues with foreign SIM cards.
In order to properly activate a Galaxy Note 3 handset bought in the U.K. for example, one would need a U.K. SIM card. Afterward, said Note 3 handset should be capable of operating with a U.S. SIM card by a local carrier like T-Mobile,or a SIM card from any local carrier around the world. However many Galaxy Note 3 owners in the U.K. especially report that they have had issues with SIM cards from local carriers in Africa or Asia, with Egypt and Thailand being singled out as areas where the Galaxy Note 3 European model has not functioned even after a proper activation.
Enter XDA elite developer Chainfire who has developed an app called RegionLock Away, which will aptly do away with the regional SIM lock mechanism on Galaxy Note 3 handsets. Galaxy Note 3 owners can purchase the app for just $2.99 at the Google Play Store; however, there is also a free version available at the XDA-Developers forum.
Galaxy Note 3 owners should keep in mind that this fix will only work for the SM-N9005 model, running the European Samsung M17 firmware, and the handset must be rooted. Those who are unable to or would prefer to not root their Galaxy Note 3 handsets have the option of purchasing an unlock code online for $20-$25 or can have their Note 3 unlocked for free at an official Samsung service center.
Grey market importing, in which vendors purchase devices from one region and sell them to another region to profit from the difference between retail prices in different areas around the world, appears to be a major issue for Samsung. In addition to the Galaxy Note 3, several Galaxy handsets manufactured after July 2013 have been locked according to their geographical region, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4 Mini. Rumors also indicate that the upcoming Android 4.4. KitKat update will implement the region lock onto all other Galaxy handsets currently on the market. However, this has not yet been confirmed by Samsung.
Check out RegionLock Away App in action here.
Will you be testing out the RegionLock Away App to unlock your Samsung Galaxy Note 3? Let us know in the comments below.
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Fionna Agomuoh is a Technology Reporter for the International Business Times, a vegan foodie, and a lover of Electric Dance Music.