You might have run into the specifications sheet of a Samsung smartphone and found in the listing that there are two versions of the phone – one a USA version, and the other an international version. Every now and then, Samsung releases a smartphone that has two different versions like that. The international version of Samsung phones tend to be unlocked (not restricted to any one carrier), while the USA version comes in both carrier-locked and factory unlocked options.
The international version is sold and supported in other countries outside of the USA (e.g. in South America, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc.). The USA version is sold exclusively in the United States of America. It is important that you purchase the version that is appropriate to your location.
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Traits of the international version of Samsung phones
There are a number of different traits or characteristics of the international version of Samsung phones.
The chipset (or processor) is the major differentiating factor between USA version and international version of Samsung phones. At the premium flagship level, the international version of Samsung phones uses an Exynos chipset (made by Samsung), while the USA version usually uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. This pattern is evident in the Samsung Galaxy S22 series.
Though Samsung didn’t follow this dual pattern in the Galaxy S23 series, we are already getting reports that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will have a Snapdragon-powered USA version and an Exynos-powered international version.
At lower levels, i.e. mid-range and entry level, the international version also uses an Exynos chipset but the USA version switches to a MediaTek chipset. An example of this is seen in the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G, which has an Exynos 1330 in the international version and a Dimensity 700 chip in the USA version.
Is there sometimes a performance difference between the USA version and the international version of Samsung phones? Certainly. Usually, the Snapdragon chipset in the USA version is more capable than its competing Exynos alternative in the international version. I can tell you that international buyers are never happy about this. But at lower levels, the opposite happens too, and you will sometimes find that the international version uses a chipset that is more powerful than the alternative used in the USA version.
The international version of Samsung phones is designed to support U.S. carriers specifically. If you were not aware, U.S. carriers often use network bands and frequencies that are not widely used in many places around the world. As such, the international version of Samsung phones may not support all carriers in the United States. The USA version does. You really do not want to purchase an international version of Samsung if you are resident in the United States, only to find out that it does not work with a particular service from your carrier, and vice versa.
The international version of Samsung phones usually has dual SIM support. With the advent of eSIM, this means that in some cases, the second SIM slot is an eSIM. The long-term pattern with the USA version is that it is single SIM.
The international version of Samsung smartphones usually has a varied set of warranty that is different from one country to another. Samsung has been known to provide up to two years warranty in some international markets. has a international warranty. On the other hand, the USA version will have the standard 1 year warranty – and only for US residents.
Google Play Store
The Google Play Store for the international version of Samsung phones is set, by default, to different countries and may not have the same apps that are available in the USA version, and vice versa. As such, if you are using an international version of a Samsung smartphone in the USA and can’t find a certain app in the store, then you can’t download that app because that app was not released for the international country. Of course, you can change the country in the app store to get past that restriction.
Software update is another defining factor. The international version of Samsung phones often get software updates faster than the US version.
Almost everything else is the same on a Samsung smartphone even when it has both an international and a USA version. There might be some other minor differences apart from the key ones listed above, but the two versions are essentially the same device.
Why does Samsung do this?
For one, there is some cost savings in not having to support all carriers worldwide on one single universal version. By picking and choosing what carrier frequencies to support across the two versions, the company saves some money.
In recent years, there has also been the problem of global chip shortages. Samsung is able to manage the shortage better by using different chips in the two different versions.
How to identify the international version of Samsung phones
The surest way to be sure you are buying a version that is appropriate for you is to shop from Samsung authorised sources only. Samsung’s official retail channels will not sell you a USA version outside of the United States and will never sell you an international version in the United States.
If you shop online a lot and across international lines, you have to know what chipset is used in which version and look out for that before you make your purchase. There are also codes attached to each phone version. If you can identify those codes, you can check them up against the label on the phone box or information on the metchant’s product page. But I assume you that it can be tedious playing detective this way. But sometimes, it is worth it. Sometimes, the price difference between what you get shopping around yourself and what obtains from the official channels is big enough to make all the hassles worth it. Happy shopping.