I personally prefer to do it that way--you can create a more convincing review that's more likely to make sales. It's not always possible or practical, though; for example, would you break up with your significant other just to test a product for getting your ex back? ;-) In cases like that, or if the product is expensive, it's usually best just to use the vendor's affiliate resources instead.
If you have a good idea for an app, and the skills to create it, then producing your own premium app can be profitable. However, with so many free apps available, it may be hard to convince people to pay. If you want to go down the premium app route, consider having a basic free version to encourage people to download the app in the first place. You can then provide the option of upgrading to a premium plan once users realize how useful the app is.