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Samsung to roll out Apple-esque upgrade program in Singapore

The company's new concierge service will allow owners of its phones to upgrade their devices yearly, and access out-of-warranty repair services at a discount.

Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple's iPhone upgrade programs appear to have piqued the interest of Samsung, which is now trialing a similar service in Singapore.

The South Korean electronics giant on Thursday unveiled a program called Samsung Concierge. The service, currently only available in Singapore, costs a one-time fee of S$38 (roughly $25, AU$35 or ‎£20). Like Apple's recently announced Trade Up With Installments plan, it allows owners of current Samsung Galaxy devices to upgrade their phones to the latest model after 12 months at not cost.

Concierge was developed "specifically to address the needs of Singapore consumers," said Samsung Electronics Singapore's Vice President of IT and Mobile Eugene Goh. It's possible the plan will make it to other countries though, with a Samsung spokesperson adding that the company is "continually assessing and exploring solutions that offer the best experience for consumers in other markets."

Samsung Concierge is timed to go live in the island nation alongside the release of the newly revealed Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones. As well as free upgrades, if you're enrolled in the program you'll also get a one-time 50 percent discount on out-of-warranty repairs made to the phone in the first 12 months.

Compare this to Trade Up With Installments, which is only available in the US, where you pay off a new iPhone in 24 monthly installments and can get a free upgrade to a new model after 12 months. The Cupertino, California-based company also allows customers to trade in older iPhones to get a discounted monthly repayment rate.

The plan, in addition to matching Apple, could be a reaction by Samsung to facing increased competition in international markets from Chinese brands. Companies such as Xiaomi and Oppo sell tens of millions of "good enough" smartphones each year at prices well below Samsung's premium-priced Galaxy S range.

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