Home Your Tech Mobility Samsung Galaxy Note 3 - 4G may not work everwhere overseas (update)

Samsung’s terrific Galaxy Note 3 purchased overseas or parallel imported locally may not support 4G everywhere, or at all.

Reports are filtering in from UK, Europe, Asia, and USA that the Galaxy Note 3 will only work with SIM’s issued by carriers within the country, or region of purchase.

As the Galaxy Note 3 does not go on sale in Australia until 3 October iTWire sought Samsung's comment - "Genuine Australian variants of the Samsung GALAXY Note 3 are not affected by any region SIM card locking.”

But that answer is not as straightforward as it seems because of the different 4G LTE standards. There are three base models

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9000 with 3G connectivity
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9002 with dual SIM card support (China only)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9005 with 3G & LTE connectivity.

Australian gets the N9005 with a Snapdragon S800 SoC for LTE. Other markets get either a N9000 or N9002 using an Exynos 5250 SoC. A listing of countries and models is here. 

The official Samsung global web site states "4G (LTE Cat 4 150 /50Mbps): up to 6 different band sets (Dependent on market)"

For example, Apple has five versions each of the iPhone 5S and 5C to cover different markets. Each can be used with major carriers in the region - but no single phone/tablet can support up to 13 different LTE bands. iTwire understands that Samsung use a similar Broadcomm LTE chip, so devices sold in Australia may only be compatible with Hong Kong (CSL, Hutchison, and SmarTone), Korea (KT and SK Telecom), Singapore (M1, Singtel, and StarHub) and NewZealand (Vodafone).

Opinion

There is no impact if you are using the Note 3 in Australia, but there may be if you are visiting the USA, Europe, or China, and cannot swap out the SIM for a local one.

As new smartphones graduate to the BroadComm or other 4G LTE modem chips the same issues will arise. It is not so much of an issue for voice – GSM (global system for mobile communications – commonly called 2 or 2.5G) has 80% global coverage. Any 4G device will default back to 3G (UMTS has similar regional issues to LTE) then 2G but data speeds become far less usable.

ITwire will continue to seek clarification as to which six of the 13 LTE frequencies are supported on the 'genuine Australian variants'.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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