Xiaomi and Redmi smartphone owners have been taking to the forums on Reddit and XDA Developers to warn others about an apparent uptick in phone locking by the Chinese OEM. Previously, it had been quite straightforward to buy a Xiaomi phone in one region and take it to another without incident (Samsung is known for such region locking that can be bypassed after localized activation). Such an active grey market has actually helped propel Xiaomi into becoming one of the world’s most popular smartphone companies, as its Mi, Redmi, and POCO phones have popped up in almost all corners of the planet. However, the company still hasn’t cracked the lucrative US market yet.
It’s possible that expansion plans for the US market have been put properly in action, as obviously to succeed there Xiaomi will have to closely comply with the country’s rules and regulations. This means not officially selling phones without US Government authorization in the most heavily sanctioned countries and territories: Crimea (region of Ukraine), Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Incidentally, this same list of prohibited places appears in Xiaomi’s terms and conditions of sale, with point 1.2 stating: “The buyer may not export any product purchased from the seller to any country or territory or any party if prohibited by export control laws”.
Unfortunately for Mi and Redmi fans in Syria and especially Cuba, where Xiaomi is very popular, there has been an increase in reports of users having their phones locked out of the blue, with a warning notice explaining that the device had been blocked because of international sanction restrictions. It has been noted that mainly Xiaomi and Redmi phones that have been first used in the prohibited destination are being blocked, so activation and usage in the (non-prohibited) country of purchase beforehand should help prevent this locking issue. Resorting to using one of many available custom ROMs may also be a solution for Xiaomi fans.
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