T-Mobile customers are being offered a week-long iPhone "test drive"

Just who is providing all the iPhones that will be offered to potential T-Mobile customers as part of a new program that lets people test drive the carrier’s network for a week? Apple. That’s according to T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who said Cupertino is doling out the now nine-month-old handsets free of charge. The test drive program, which was announced today at the company’s”Uncarrier 5.0″ event, lets anyone take home an iPhone 5S that runs on T-Mobile’s network, and comes with the company’s unlimited plan. At the end of the week, people bring the phone back, and either sign up for a plan or return it with what T-Mobile says are no strings attached. Legere said he expects the company to do a million test drives within the first year of the program. That’s a relatively small number of phones for Apple, which sold 43.7 million iPhones in its last quarter. T-Mobile is also not initially offering the service with devices made by other manufacturers, something that clearly benefits Apple this late in the iPhone 5S’s lifecycle.

Pulling a page from the car dealer’s manual, T-Mobile is offering would-be customers a free seven-day trial of its network using an iPhone 5s. “You (can) have a 7-night stand,” CEO John Legere said in an interview just head of the company’s “Un-carrier 5.0″ event in Seattle. “You cheat on your carrier and it’s free.” Legere said the goal is to help correct some misperceptions some customers still have about the quality of T-Mobile’s network. “Our network is really really different than the idea people have about it.” People can sign up for the iPhone test drive starting June 23 and will get the iPhone 5s a few days later. They then have a week to use it and can drop it off when they are done at any T-Mobile store. (Apple itself used a test drive to get people to try out the Mac back in 1984.) In a bold prediction, the company says it expects more than a million people to take it up on the Test Drive offer in the first year. Apple is providing tens of thousands of devices for the Test Drive, T-Mobile executives said. T-Mobile announced its plans before a raucous crowd at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, a venue packed with a vast number of T-Mobile employees and local customers. T-Mobile originally had its event slated for LA, but the company moved it to its hometown to be close to all the press in town for Amazon’s phone launch which took place earlier in the day.

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