Tue. Jun 11th, 2024

Though there is evidence that this practice is being slowly done away with, there are generally two kinds of factory unlocked Samsung phones. One is the “international unlocked” model meant for use in all other countries outside the USA (e.g. in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc.). The second version is a USA version or “US unlocked version” which is meant to be used on any network carrier in the USA.

An example is the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G. It has an international version using an Exynos 1330 chipset, and a USA version using a Dimensity 700 chipset. There is no way to visually tell which is which. You have to look at the sales box to tell.

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G has both a USA version and an international version.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G has both a USA version and an international version.

Officially, USA versions of factory unlocked Samsung cell phones are sold only in the United States, while the international versions are not sold in the United States. So, if buying from official channels, you never have to worry about which version you are getting.

Processors

The main difference between the two versions is the processor. The international version is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos processors, while the USA versions use Qualcomm Snapdragon or MediaTek Dimensity processors.

Mobile Network Support

The international version often has other network bands that the USA one doesn’t have, while the USA version has network bands that works best with all US carriers. This is because many US carriers use network frequencies and bands that are different from what carriers in the rest of the world use.

Single vs Dual SIM Support

The international one usually has dual SIM support, but the USA version almost NEVER has dual SIM support and only supports single SIM (dual SIM lets you use two SIM cards on different networks at the same time).

Differences between the International Version and USA Version of Samsung Unlocked Phones

Warranty

The international unlocked one has international warranty. You cannot claim warranty from Samsung in the USA if you had a international variant. The USA version will have the standard 1 year warranty only in the US only.

Google Play Store

Also, in some cases, the Google Play Store for the international phone may be set to a different country and may not have the same apps that are available in the USA version, and vice versa. As such, if you are using the international Samsung phone in the USA and can’t find and download a certain app, then you can’t download that app because that app was not released for outside the country (you will likely get an international version of that app which may have different features compared to the USA version of that app).

Software Updates

One final thing is software updates. This is just from my experience, the US unlocked variants tend to get very slow updates.. and the carrier branded variants seem to get updates the fastest.. not sure why but this is just something you might want to know if software updates are very important to you. International variants often get software updates faster.

They also do not have any cellphone carrier apps, features, or bloatware.

To buy an International version or a USA version?

Bottom line, get a US unlocked Samsung phone if you live in the USA, and get an international variant if you live outside the USA. But if you can get your hands on a cheaper price on an international phone, and if you don’t mind those differences that I’ve mentioned, then go for it.. the international unlocked phone should work fine in the USA, it’s designed to be globally compatible enough.

Carrier-branded Phones

In addition to US unlocked phones and international unlocked phones, there are many different US variants of carrier branded Samsung phones which are tied and NETWORK LOCKED to specific US cellphone carriers (carrier branded phones like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.).. but if you paid full price for the phone and you meet the carriers requirements (usually you have to use the phone on their network for a period of time and not have any money owed to it), you can get the phone permanently unlocked for free and you will be able to use it outside the USA and on any other cellphone carrier. 

Usually, carrier branded phones are much cheaper if you buy through a 3rd party than the US unlocked variant or the international variant. if you can get the carrier version unlocked, then it should work globally and you could use it in any country and you’ll probably save a lot of money.