Samsung, please copy Apple and bring back phone subscriptions

Wait, does it copy if you did it first?


We learned yesterday that Apple is planning a new subscription sales model. The plan would include hardware like iPhones and iPads, plus insurance and access to subscription services like Apple Music, bundled together for a discounted monthly fee. Here in Android land, we don’t really have an analog option. Sure, there’s Google’s Pixel Pass, but it’s more of a finance plan – you pay for two years and then the phone is yours. Samsung briefly offered a program called Samsung Access that was more in line with what Apple expected, but the program is no longer available. I think now would be the perfect time for Samsung to bring it back.


Starting at $37 per month, Samsung Access included a Samsung phone, warranty coverage, one terabyte of cloud storage through Microsoft OneDrive, and Microsoft 365 Personal access. Customers were able to return their rented device and walk away free of charge after subscribing for at least three months, and Access offered the option to trade in up to a new device every nine months. The program’s landing page is still accessible, but it only mentions the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy Note20, and there’s no way to subscribe – the handful of “SUBSCRIBE” links on the page don’t lead only to error messages, or even nowhere.

In light of Apple’s subscription plans, this year would be an opportune time for Samsung to relaunch Access, or something like that. The Samsung Mobile Upgrade Program exists, but only in certain countries – and it only includes hardware. A subscription to an all-in-one hardware and software package is a very attractive proposition for a certain type of customer.

There is of course the question of what services Samsung might include in such a bundle. Samsung Care+ is a given, but while the productivity apps might be an added value for some buyers, they don’t have the massive appeal of music streaming or fitness subscriptions – both of which would be included in the future bundle. subscription from Apple in the form of Apple Music and Apple Fitness+.

Samsung’s close relationship with Microsoft has me imagining a bundle that includes a Samsung device and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — it might even come with an Xbox controller and phone stand to push subscribers to Xbox Cloud Gaming. Deals with other third parties like Spotify aren’t unheard of either: Galaxy phones already come with a three-month trial of Spotify Premium, and I have to think a bundle that includes a rented Samsung phone and a subscription to Premium for a discount would appeal to many people.


The reported Apple plan would also include options to lease other Apple hardware like the iPad and Apple Watch, and Samsung is currently the only Android maker that could hope to compete in this area. Google doesn’t have any tablets or smartwatches to speak of that it could include in Pixel Pass (at least not yet), but Samsung makes some of the best Android tablets money can buy, and its Watch4 series included our two favorite smartwatches of 2021.

Pixel Pass is the closest thing we have to Apple’s supposed subscription model right now. And for a small subset of Android users, it’s a good option: if you’re planning on keeping a Pixel 6 for two years and you’re already subscribed to the services included in the package, it’s a no-brainer. . But in the eyes of many American smartphone buyers, android means exclusively Samsung. I’m hoping the company brings back some kind of subscription-based hardware/software bundle – it’s the only one that might do it on our side of the aisle.

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