For those who care, Test Drive is a T-Mobile marketing promotion wherein T-Mobile sends me an iPhone 5s and I get to use it for 7 days on their 4G LTE network - for free! The only catch: if I loose or screw up the phone I'm out $700 via my favorite credit card. It made me nervous but what the hell, I was relatively confident that I could use an iPhone for a week without screwing up. (fingers crossed)
The FedEx guy dropped off the T-Mobile branded box at my home address without waiting for a signature. Inside was an iPhone 5s with 64 Gigabyte memory in non-Apple packaging. No paper instructions or quickstart guide was included. As soon as I turned it on, it asked to be connected to iTunes. I did so and the thing promptly began downloading/installing it's software via iTunes. Somewhere along in the process it asked to restore my previously configured iPhone backup from my iPhone 4s. I allowed it to do so. Shortly I was presented with an iPhone 5s configured exactly like my 4s. All my contacts and applications were there in exactly the same places. Passwords, however, required manual entry. Setting up the Touch ID was a snap. All in all, it's quite amazing how you can restore your saved settings to a replacement or upgraded iPhone -- if you've got a proper backup in iTunes or iCloud.
Why they sent me a 64 Gig model I don't know, but thanks a bunch! My next iPhone purchase will require maximum memory because I've now been spoiled. The 5s was markedly faster doing everything. Opening up and typing something into whatever URL Safari last visited has become slow and clunky on the 4s, but the 5s just jumped immediately to where I could start typing without the annoying 2 or 3 second pause for a keyboard to appear like on the 4s. All other apps were suddenly snappy too (exactly like the 4s felt when it was new). Performance streaming music was excellent. The battery indicator indicated about 3/4 battery remaining after 8 hours of continuous use streaming music. Not bad. The old 4s battery goes dead after about 5 hours of streaming music. The Touch ID worked flawlessly only requiring a second try maybe once out of 20 times accessing the phone.
The acid test was using this thing downtown in Austin while pedicabbing. The Sprint network coverage is awful and usually I can't even get 3G connections, but T-Mobile's 4G LTE network seemed to have full bars and the little "LTE" logo showing all the time. I never had a problem connecting with and using my Square application even when I tried it at spots where I've previously experienced problems with Sprint. I also streamed music using the Beats music app continuously. Streaming on the 4s was less than satisfactory on Friday night and on Saturday night it refused to work at all (crowds?). T-Mobile's network rocked it. I also tried the phones out at my most consistent Sprint dead zone at Hannah Asian Market on Parmer Lane. Again, the T-Mobile network worked flawlessly.
After about 4 days, I installed a speedtest app and tried it out, comparing the two phones. True, it's not exactly fair to pit an old 4s on a 3G network to a 5s on LTE network, but the results were stunning. Turns out my Sprint phone was delivering dial-up modem speeds. (I'm pretty sure that really sucks, even for 3G) The T-Mobile network was delivering speeds OVER TWICE AS FAST as my throttled broadband connection at home via Time Warner (typically 10 Mbps).
The Dreaded Return
I was pretty stressed about that $700 charge just waiting to be activated on my Mastercharge account, so I returned the phone a day early. I'd been prepared for some sort of hard sell at the T-Mobile shop - like the one I endure every time I walk into RadioShack, maybe an offer to keep the phone for a discount, perhaps some sort of contrived survey and coupons for a discount. I was shocked when nothing of the sort occured. The guy at the T-Mobile store simply took the phone and accessories without checking anything (maybe I should have kept the lightning to USB cable), scanned the serial number and printed out a receipt. I was unmolested and on my way home in minutes.
I guess I was sold after only 6 days. I'm done with Sprint. I'm going to switch to T-Mobile eventually. Looks like I'll save a bunch of money in the process too. I'm just waiting until Apple refreshes it's iPhone line this fall. Hopefully a discounted iPhone 5s is in my future.