Last August, Samsung unveiled a bold program directed at iPhone users called the “Ultimate Test Drive”. The program, when active, allows iPhone users to test one of three 2015 Samsung flagship devices for 30 days for just $1. The three flagships offered are the Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, and the Galaxy Note 5.
Not having used a Samsung device as my daily driver for over 2 years, I figured I would go ahead and try it out. I missed the initial batch of phones, but 3 weeks ago I received an unexpected notification via e-mail that more test phones were in stock. I went ahead and ordered the Note 5, and received the device within a few days.
Samsung gave me everything I needed to conduct a proper “test drive” of the Note: device, charger, earbuds, active SIM card, Lightning to micro USB adapter (for Smart Switch), and some specially tailored instructions to help you get the most out of your Ultimate Test Drive (and ensure that you don’t accidentally end up paying the full price of the phone, which you would be charged if the phone gets broken, lost, or if you return it after 30 days has passed). I powered the device on and easily moved the important stuff from my iPhone over to the Note with Smart Switch. Normally I’m not a fan of Samsung apps, but Smart Switch worked really well. After that it was off to the races.
It was a challenge getting used to the 5.7-inch display of the Note 5 compared to the 4.7-inch display of my iPhone 6. While I appreciated the extra real estate, it only confirmed that I’m still not great with big phones. I’m glad that I went ahead and purchased a cheap folio case because I ended up dropping it a couple of times, and the only thing worse than purchasing a phone you’re not sure that you want is purchasing a broken phone you’re not sure that you want.
The next couple of weeks were spent tinkering with settings, customizations, and getting used to having a stylus at my disposal again. The stylus never did become second nature, but at the end I did notice that I used Screen Off Memo quite a bit. During normal everyday use, however, I found that I mostly just used my hands.
The phone was really fast and responded well. The camera was great and there were a lot of settings to mess with, and overall I’m happier with the photos the Note took over my iPhone (when you have little kids it’s hard to take a picture of them sitting still – the Note 5 was faster at taking photos and therefore resulted in less blurry subjects, but the phone is also a year newer. Regardless, the Note 5 was the clear winner when it came to taking photos for me). I started using Nova Launcher in lieu of TouchWiz and found that I was much happier with that, but to each their own. The battery life was, as expected, excellent.
Overall I would say I enjoyed the experience. I returned my Note 5 and everything went through smoothly – no extra charges or anything fishy. I received a survey and an offer for $100 to trade-in my iPhone for a Galaxy device (which I wouldn’t recommend taking for newer iPhones, if you ever find yourself in the same position) as well as an additional $100 in Google Play credit. As much as I valued and appreciated the experience, it only confirmed that iOS is still the right choice for me. Even if I were to go with a smaller Galaxy smartphone, I think there are just too many features on the phone that I wouldn’t use right now.
As for the Ultimate Test Drive itself? I think it’s great. I wish that Samsung would open it up to more than just iPhone users because TouchWiz (and Samsung’s additional features) still set it apart from Android phones made by other manufacturers. iPhone users are a tough sell, and while I’m sure the Test Drive convinced some iPhone users to switch, I am willing to bet that Samsung would be doing itself a favor by lifting the "iPhone user only" restriction. Otherwise the Test Drive was well executed, organized, and for just $1 it was definitely worth the experience.
Readers, what are your thoughts on Samsung’s Ultimate Test Drive? Do you wish they would open it up to more than just iPhone users? Is there another manufacturer you wish would conduct an "Ultimate Test Drive" of their own? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!