Just thought id do a review for the samsung upgrade program as I couldnt find any reviews for it when I was planning to opt for it.
Overall: So far I am really happy with samsung, their communication regarding the order, delivery and the products I have received but that doesnt mean blind loyalty. Samsung will have to continue to deliver to this standard to retain my business. Another thing to note is Chinese competitors are just getting so much better by the day and i could easily switch if they offer something as compelling; a phone that does everything, in the years to come.
Background: This was end of 2017/early2018, I had an LG phone and went back and forth between the V20 and G6. Overall i loved these phones, they were the only ones with the wide angle cam and quad DAC and i needed a phone that did good photos, music and they had to have an excellent screen as i watched a lot of Netflix/Youtube on my phone and do some photo editing etc. While the phones delivered in most areas, there were major quality issues with the screen. While colours were punchy and crisp there were blotches on the display (both phones) which could be seen on lighter colours. Frustrated i decided it was time to switch. The last samsung i owned and still do was the S2 and i thought maybe its time to try them out again but ***** their phones were expensive, was it worth spending £800 + on a phone that is going to be outdated in 2 years but then i seen this scheme on the Samsung site and they were offering the Note 8 at 0% interest, a downpayment of around £89 and around £32 every month. I am on a sim only contract and pay another £11 for the network so overall my monthly expenditure on the phone would be £43, much cheaper than getting the note 8 from a carrier and no network lock when traveling abroad or deciding to switch. And knowing myself, i would end up spending close to the same amount on phones over a two year period anyway given how I get bored with them pretty soon. So why buy a mid range phone for £400 when you can own the latest and greatest. Plus they would offer me the option to upgrage a year later. So I thought might as well go for it and evaluate a year down the line whether the upgrade is worth it. The note 8 arrived next day. Everything was perfect and like I wanted. The DAC on the note 8 was sufficient for my consumer grade earphones (uisii t8 dual driver), adaptive sound just made things so much better and the cameras were stellar! The screen again was awesome. The battery on the other hand started of as average and towards the end of my time with the phone was quite bad. I was charging my phone twice a day. So when the note 9 launched i decided to upgrade as this seemed like an iterative upgrade that fixed problems with the note 8.
How: I received a mail in October inviting me to upgrade which stated that i was eligible for an 'early upgrade', which i found strange as i still had 3 months to go before I completed a year. When i tried to click on the link and upgrage, I was taken to the upgrage lounge where I was told that I couldnt upgrade until the end of December (when i complete paying 11 installments). Eventually in december I was able to upgrade. I was also given a £50 discount on the acutal price on the samsung site. However, if one did decide to purchase it at full price from the site (not via the upgrade scheme), there were freebies thrown in, so it works out to the same id say.
The Process: In the upgrade lounge once you check out, you need to make the down payment and apply for a loan from close brothers retail finance again, exactly like you would when you purchase a phone new on finance. There is a form to fill out online to assess your eligibility etc. Once you are done and your order is confirmed, you get an email to notify you of their acceptance of the order. I also received a mail from them stating that i would get a 'return kit' in the mail and to use that to send back the old phone, not to use the return label that comes with the new phone. I placed my order on a saturday and spent the weekend wondering if they would ship over the weekend or if they would on Monday which meant i would have to wait till wednesday (given that tuesday was a public holiday) to have the phone in hand. Surprisingly they did ship it out on Sunday night. I received a mail from DPD at 8:30 in the morning on monday stating that my order would be with me between 10:20-11:20. Unfortunately i woke up at 10:21 and seen a message on my phone that they missed me and that i would have to re-schedule the delivery or pick it up from their depot. Man i was so upset that i missed the delivery by 1 minute! But anyway i couldnt wait and scheduled to go pick it up from their depot that same evening. Collected it, unboxed it, everything fine, everything working well so far. Two days later i received a regular business letter sized envelope in the mail which had the instructions I needed to follow along with a Royal Mail 48h tracked return label and a plastic shipping bag. Apparently the handset is not shipped back to samsung but to a 3rd party company that buys used phones. One thing that was strange here is that Samsung on the instruction leaflet states that it is my responsibility to ensure that the mobile is safely shipped back to the address. But they are the ones providing the label and it is not a guranteed delivery service, and i am unaware if they have insurance on the 48h tracked service should the package get lost in the mail. The instructions also stated that i needed to remove my google and samsung accounts and reset my phone. It is important that you remove your account as apparently there are security features from google and samsung that prevent an unauthorised phone reset. No accessories are required to be shipped back, just the handset and they suggest doing it in the original box if possible. Fortunately I had the note 8 box with me still and shipped it back in that. Once they received the phone, i received a mail from close brothers retail the immediate next day stating that my previous loan account with them has been settled and thats it. Everything went quite smoothly and took less than two weeks for the whole to complete. I generally tend to keep my phones in good condition with cases and screen protectors, so my phone pretty much looked like the day i unboxed it so no issues or discrepencies on the condition of the phone.
Will i upgrade again? Pretty much depends on what the Note 10 brings to the table. I am not a fan of the leaked punch hole cameras of the s10, if the note 10 follows suit I might give it a miss. I might just stick to the note 9 for the next 2 years and jump ship after that or see what else is in the market at that time. I could also potentially sell the phone on ebay a year later and pay off the loan but i doubt the phone will fetch half its price on ebay, with unofficial sealed boxes and sealed unwanted upgrades going for a similar price.