Ask LH: Are Kogan’s ‘International’ Smartphones Safe To Use In Australia?

Dear Lifehacker, is it worthwhile getting a Samsung Galaxy S8+ from Kogan or Dick Smith? I believe they are selling international or “grey import” smartphones. Are there any problems I need to know about regarding warranty, chargers, etc? Thanks, Galaxy Buyer

Dear GB,

Kogan – and its sister site Dick Smith – sell imported smartphone models in addition to stock specifically earmarked for Australia by the manufacturer. This is clearly outlined on Kogan’s website:

We work hard to partner with global distributors to bring you the latest items at the best possible prices, meaning some products we sell are an equivalent international model. By cutting out the middleman, we’re often able to sell the world’s biggest brands (like Apple, Samsung and Nikon) for significantly cheaper than local retailers.

You can find out whether Kogan is selling the local or international model by checking the product listing for a ‘Direct Import’ banner. This usually appears below the product photos near the top of the page.

For the most part, grey import smartphones are fine to use in Australia. The main issue is ensuring that our LTE bands are supported by the device. However, you can rest assured that anything sold by a local vendor (such as Kogan) will work as advertised over here.

Another issue facing importers is the charging accessories that come packaged with the device. Obviously, a phone charger manufactured for European or American markets won’t plug into an Australian AC outlet and vice-versa.

Kogan gets around this problem by substituting the overseas adaptor for an “AU/NZ Compliant Generic Charger”. We haven’t tested these Kogan-supplied chargers so can’t vouch for their quality. However, we suspect they’re probably not as fast as Samsung’s, which is something to keep in mind.

You don’t need to concern yourself about warranty either. Merchants remain beholden to Australia’s consumer protection laws, even when selling international products. All Kogan and Dick Smith products come with a minimum one-year Australian Standard Care Warranty.

Kogan also provides options for Extended Care, but as we’ve explained in the past, these are a bit of a rort. When the fault lies with the manufacturer, most ‘big ticket’ items like TVs and smartphones are still covered for repairs outside the nominal warranty period. So pocket the money instead!


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