Samsung Max is a “freemium” VPN and privacy tool that Samsung launched on February 23rd, 2018. That means it is free to use, but there is also a premium version. Officially, Samsung lists it as a “Data savings and privacy manager”. The Opera browser company originally designed this app, but Samsung purchased it for exclusive use on their phones. If you take a look at Google stats, users have downloaded it more than 10 million times. It also has more than 325k ratings and a 4.3 star rating. In our review of Samsung Max, we’ll look at the different VPN and privacy features as well as see if it is worthy of that sort of rating.
About the Product Development
Opera Max started as a browser. It was designed as one of the first data-friendly mobile offerings, but later added a VPN and other privacy features. In 2017, the Opera company announced they were closing the project. When Samsung decided to take over the product, they allegedly made it exclusive for Samsung phones. However, you can download it for other phones if you want to. In some countries, it comes pre-loaded on some Samsung phones. The rest of us would need to download it from Google Play, Samsung Galaxy Apps, or other mirror stores. The question is, can Samsung give this product the attention it deserves? If you don’t mind spending a couple dollars a month we would would recommend using Private Internet Access as an alternative. For just $2.50 a month you can enjoy secure VPN access on all your devices from a well known and trusted privacy company.
As we mentioned in the beginning, there is supposed to be a premium mode. That said, you can find the location and you can click the upgrade button. You can also move the slider to premium mode. Supposedly, the premium mode provides you with fewer ads and access to more features with the service. One thing you may not be able to find is any sort of pricing or a way to pay. The app says it will give you premium mode if you will agree to ads on your charging screen. That is the first time we have seen that as an option for payment.
There are several different aspects of Samsung Max, so we will go over them. The Android app offers different tools for privacy to keep you safe and perhaps save some data. Their in-app messages state they want to stop you from wasting data and squeeze out every bit of “savings” they can.
- VPN – Once you install the app and open it, the app asks you if you want to set up the VPN connection. As soon as you do, you are connected. When we checked the “Settings” option, we were not able to find out anything about the connection. There was no place to see the location of the server or encryption levels. Also, there is no way to change those options. Since that information is not displayed, it is possible that you may be vulnerable.
- Extend Your Time – This setting is related to the privacy protection. According to the app, it provides you with protection and data savings. The protection includes ad tracker blocking and requests protected. You will extend your time in all of your apps without your mobile data running out so quickly.
- Manage Apps – By selecting this option, you can limit or restrict apps that are using too much data.
- Ultra Apps – This is an interesting feature that gives you the option of “Ultra Apps”. The development team reworked some of the most popular apps in the community. They are actually advanced web apps that load mobile website versions of those apps that are optimized for Samsung’s Max cloud technology. They state that these apps will protect your privacy and save money on your mobile data plan. At the time of this review, there are only 5 ultra apps. Those are Facebook, Instagram, VK, Cricbuzz, and Wikipedia.
Samsung Max App Usage
As you can see in the image below, there is not much to this application. It simply has a connect/disconnect slider for the VPN, WiFi Data Saving Mode, and Privacy Protection. You also see the Ultra Apps in the image.
As you see in the image above, there is no real connection screen. Just a slider that indicates that you are connected. In writing this review, it is difficult to test some of the factors of this application. You should notice some differences, though, if you use one of the ultra apps. We can, however, test the VPN to see if it is worth using. We’ll begin with a speed test.
Samsung Max Speed Test
While the Samsung Max app is trying to keep you safe, there are some usage issues. The first has to do with the speed you get when connecting to their VPN service. As you can see in the image below, there is a large difference in performance. Additionally, the high ping on the server in the first image shows that it may be a crowded server, slow, or have other connection issues. We like to see faster speeds, but it is a free service.
Samsung Max Leak Test
Another test you should be aware of deals with DNS leaks. In this case, we used our favorite comprehensive leak testing site, doileak.com. Though some of the test items have to do with your mobile browser choice, others deal directly with the safety of your connection. We also used the DNSleaktest.com site and got the same results. As you can see by the items highlighted in yellow, there were some leaks when connected to the VPN. If your goal is to protect your privacy as Samsung Max suggests, using this service will not do a good job if it leaks. If you decide to run this test on your device, you should make sure that you have the WebRTC setting disabled. Otherwise, any website will still be able to see your real IP address.
Should I Use Samsung Max?
If you are familiar with the Opera Max and expecting Samsung Max to be the same, you need to enable the premium version to get the same benefit. Whether or not this application will actually protect your privacy is an open question. It is not doing it with it’s VPN given the leaks. Samsung Max may be ok for helping save some data usage but the VPN portion of the service makes us hesitant. Again, we suggest using other options.
Final Thoughts About Samsung Max
Samsung Max is extremely popular and a good thought, but there is some work that needs to be done. That includes making the VPN settings and servers transparent and giving the user more control over encryption, server location, and server choice. The lack of those features means you can’t take advantage of some of the other benefits of using a VPN. At least some of the reviews in the Google Play Store express disappointment in the product, especially when compared to Opera Max. Our speed was reduced by half in the performance tests and we had an issue with DNS leaks when using the app. There are certainly better options that will give you more freedom. You might want to take a look at our Top 10 VPNs for a better list of options.