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Turns out Verizon's Galaxy S3 isn't global ready after all

Last year, Verizon promised the Samsung Galaxy S3 could be used worldwide by customers. It took six months for the company to enable this, and it only works for voice calls.

Danny Sullivan
Danny Sullivan is a journalist who has covered the search and internet marketing space for over 15 years. He's founding editor of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, and writes a personal blog called Daggle (and maintains his disclosures page there).
Danny Sullivan
2 min read

When the Galaxy S3 came to Verizon last June, those who wanted to use it globally were promised that feature would come after launch. It did, in January, six months later. But customers remain frustrated that their supposedly global-ready phones can't do data outside the U.S.

The issue is that despite the upgrade in January allowing Verizon Galaxy S3s to accept SIM cards from non-U.S. carriers, there's no way to establish a data connection on those phones through non-U.S. carriers.

In technical talk, you can't create the needed APN (Access Point Name). As one reader e-mailed me:

I am from the USA and have the Verizon S3 with Jelly Bean. I am currently in the UK. Used my usual UK VodaFone Sim card and it immediately worked for both Voice and Texts (something it didn't do when I was here in November before the Jelly Bean Update). 

The reason it won't work at all in SOME countries is actually SIMPLY (but major) because Verizon seem to have disabled the ability to modify or add an APN. It just so happens, in the UK, their default APN works (for text and voice) on the VodaFone UK network. I've been here a week and text / phone all over the world. Since I can't edit the APN though, I cannot set the settings needed for Data. 

My wife has a Verizon Incredible 2 and her phone works in the UK for Voice, Text AND data but only after I modiified the APN (which the Incredible allows)....

It WILL work as a true GLOBAL phone (Verizon rates). For 3rd party SIM cards - It WILL now at last work as a phone/text in some countries. It WILL NOT work if you need to mod the APN to get any of the features for any country you are in - until Verizon fix it.

Over at Verizon's support forums, there's a longstanding thread (recently closed) covering this latest issue for those who've long been awaiting global roaming for the S3.

Technically, being able to make voice calls outside the U.S. would be global roaming. And it's nice that the phone can use a local SIM card to do this, which saves money versus using a Verizon international plan.

But it seems unreasonable to think those who have Samsung's flagship smartphone expected that when global roaming was promised by Verizon, it meant voice-only -- that it meant making their smartphone dumb.

I reached out to Verizon about this last month and again last week. So far, still no word back on when and if it will ever be corrected. Stay tuned.