Note 8 Carrier Neutral? Help... Bloatware apps destroying experience

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Bought a Note 8 certified refurbished on Amazon. The phone was advertised as 'factory unlocked' which I had anticipated would mean what it means on every single other unlocked phone I've ever purchased; that I would have completely stock firmware (yes I know Samsung has modified android UI) with no carrier-downloaded bloatware like AT&T help or direcTV. The Note 8 is certainly 'unlocked' but it is not truly unlocked how I see it. The phone allows other sim cards to be inserted, but any time I do this, it prompts me with a message saying that I've inserted a sim from a different carrier and that the phone needs to be restarted and that the carrier-specific trash-fire apps need to be installed on the phone.

I've owned Nexus, ZTE, essential phone, and none, NONE of these phones EVER gave me a message like this. They simply say, "oh, cool, yeah you're good" and everything works perfectly. So what the hell kind of phone did I purchase?? I've called every single help line I can think to call and none of them have been able to give me a definitive answer! Even Samsung! And no, before you respond saying, "lol just root it"... no. I'm not going to root my phone.

I'm currently in the process of trying to get the seller to give me a different phone that won't give me this issue, but I'm the kind of person who wants to know what to avoid in the future, and I like learning about new issues with phones. So someone, please help... I never want to have to come crawling back to Apple... but after this debilitating experience, I've started to consider it. God forbid I do...

Like I said: don't tell me to root my phone, miss me with that.
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B. Diddy

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Mar 9, 2012
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Welcome to Android Central! In this situation, it sounds like the phone was in fact a carrier-specific phone, which has been carrier-unlocked. You're right that "factory unlocked" should mean that it's "carrier-agnostic," since the term implies this was done at the factory level, and not after it hit the carrier. I suspect the seller was playing a bit loose with the terminology.

In the future, it may be helpful to ask for the exact model number of the phone. Samsung model numbers can often tell you if they're originally carrier-specific phones.