As reported by Android Police (sourcing All About Samsung and two xda-developers threads) and relayed by GSM Arena and IBTimes, Samsung Galaxy S III, S4, S4 mini, Note II and Note 3 devices manufactured after end-July 2013 are region-locked!
The good news is that once the device is “activated” (why the fuck does a full-price smartphone need to be “activated”?!) with a corresponding SIM — a European SIM for the “European Model”, an American SIM for the “American Model” –, the locking is released, so that the device can subsequently be used in no matter what part of the planet, with any SIM.
The bad news is that there is no logic behind all this shit! If all it takes to cancel this region-locking is to put a “proper SIM” in the device and boot it, then what’s the purpose of this crap?! Samsung’s top management is more stupid than a Drosophila melanogaster, for not realising this idiotic decision brings more harm to their image than the (hard to understand) gain!
My advice? Screw Samsung, they’re shitheads and in the same league with Apple. Go for Huawei, they currently have three interesting devices with good EU prices — Mate (with a great battery life), P6 and G700 (the latter soon to be released in the EU as G700-U10 dual-SIM and G700-U20 single-SIM, but even if you buy the Chinese G700-U00 version and root it to add Google Play, it will just work).
Samsung — the proof that the utmost idiocy and lack of respect towards customers is not limited to the Northern part of the Korean peninsula.