The Samsung Galaxy Note III. Samsung’s new phablet does many things, but work with a foreign SIM card isn’t one of them. (Samsung)
The Samsung Galaxy Note III. Samsung's new phablet does many things, but work with a foreign SIM card isn't one of them. (Samsung)

If your job or your lifestyle takes you around the world and you're considering investing in Samsung's latest phablet to keep you company on your travels, you might want to think again.

That's because the Galaxy Note III -- a device aimed at those that value productivity as highly as entertainment -- won't work with foreign SIM cards even if the handset is unlocked, meaning that international travelers have no choice but to accept huge roaming charges

There is one reason that consumers specifiy the more expensive, unlocked version of a smartphone: so that they are not tied to a network carrier and can therefore swap the SIM card at will. Something that has become a crucial feature for business travelers and jet-setting consumers alike who want to be able to use their devices, without incurring huge roaming fees, wherever their work or their lifestyle takes them.

However, as first reported by Gigaom on Thursday, people who have pre-ordered Samsung's latest phablet for that very reason are in for a serious shock.

On the packaging for the SIM-unlocked version of the oversized handset is an equally large sticker which states that the device will only work with a SIM card issued from a mobile operator within the territory of purchase.

So, for example if a Galaxy Note III is purchased in Europe, it will only work with a European-issued SIM card, meaning that if the owner attempts to replace it with a US SIM when travelling or working in North America, the device becomes a glorified iPod as it will be unable to make or receive calls, access the internet via 3G and 4G/LTE networks.


It means that owners will have no choice but to persist with the region-specific SIM and the often expensive roaming charges that it entails. Or switch to Airplane-safe mode and hope that they can survive purely on public wi-fi hotspots. Not exactly the most productive way of working for a device aimed at the productivity obsessed.

Since the story broke, consumers and retailers have reported that the region locking has spread to the Galaxy SIV handset with July shipments of devices also carrying the sticker.