First Look and Hands On: Samsung Instinct

We know, we know- this phone has been out since late last month and that Apple has something new coming Friday. But we finally got our hands on one and better late than never 🙂 . This phone is insanely awesome and read below to hear our take.

Lets start this slow- Features: NOTE: iPHONE REFERS TO BOTH 3G AND ORIGINAL iPHONE

  • Thin phone yet sturdy feel— phone is not the lightest, but it still could fit easily into a jeans pocket, and when you hold it, you feel like you’re actually holding something.
  • 3.2 inch touchscreen— very large and bright while still not hurting the size or feel of the device.

Example of the large screen with the Instinct’s Menu- fills all of touchscreen with large “buttons” like iPhone

  • Full Web Browser with Sprint 3G— instead of running off WiFi, which is what Apple’s iPhone uses, the Instinct uses the regular Sprint 3G phone network, so wherever you have phone service you have internet too (WiFi in contrast is harder to come by). While not quite as fast as iPhone’s WiFi, the speed of Sprint’s network gives this phone the internet speeds similar to a computer, and the web browser loads pages like a computer, giving you the “real” internet on the go.
  • Tactile feedback— feedback= the response of the phone when the screen is touched; tactile= a vibrating response imitating the feel of pressing an actual button. O, and the iPhone doesn’t have it!
  • Sprint TV— ability to watch On Demand TV and Live TV. the quality passes for watchable on the go, but thats about it. Its definitely not replacing your TV.
  • Mp3 player with ability to Download Songs over Sprint’s network for $.99- the Mp3 player functions much like the iPhone’s, except for no cover flow 😦 . The downloading songs also works like Apple’s system, though as mentioned above, you will have connection to the Sprint network more often than WiFi.

The Instinct’s Mp3 player (sorry for bad pic, took from YouTube b/c I couldn’t get a better one- don’t worry, it works VERY well)

  • 2 megapixel camera with video— the pix are good enough for a camera phone, but this wont be substituting your regular digital camera (and if it is, think about getting a new camera–see our camera suggestions). The video feature also is nothing special, though its beats the iPhone, which has none at all.

Example of Instinct’s picture taking using a Palm Treo as the subject.

  • Built-in Speaker— good quality, but not too loud for listening in large groups or in public/ crowded areas.
  • Micro-SD card slot— can fit as much as 8 GB in there, and the phone is prepackaged with a 2 GB card already slotted in
  • FM Radio— in case you want to listen to something else other than the songs on your internal and external memory
  • GPS– clean and clear maps with voice directions;  map zooming though is less fun than on the iPhone (see Drawbacks below)

Example of Instinct’s GPS and Maps

  • MultiMedia Messaging (MMS)– ability to send videos or pix through texting to another person; a feature not available on the old iPhone, though it is suspected to be on the new one
  • Visual Voicemail– like iPhone’s, this lets you search through your Voicemail and pick which order you want to listen to them, rather than listen to each one in the order they came in like on a regular phone
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack— what now appears to be standard on these touchscreen/music phones, lets you use regular headphones with the phone rather than some special headphones.
  • Gr8 call quality— yes, it also does the phone part very well (kinda sad that a post about a phone has this as last but oh well 😉 )

Includes a stylus, a backup battery (though regular battery is really good, and lasts really long), case, and a USB cable in the box as well.

Now it’s time for the down sides of the phone.


  • No WiFi– even though you have Sprint’s network behind it, it is not as fast as WiFi is, and you’d think that with it being an iPhone competitor that it would have this feature, sadly it is missing.
  • No Multi-Touch– we know Apple has this thing patented to who knows where, but still, as I used this phone I couldn’t help but long for the ability to just “pinch” web pages, pix or GPS maps to shrink them, and stretch out my fingers to enlarge them.
  • No App. store yet– Sprint does give it a lot of programs, but it just doesn’t compare with all that can and will come out for the iPhone.

Now we say yet, because we do have news from Sprint saying that yes the Instinct will get its own apps, and that it will be part of a whole contest open to everyone, with a Grand Prize of $20,000 (yes 20 GRAND) for the person that makes the best app for the Instinct using a mobile version of Java (Java= way to play games, or other interactive things on a phone or computer). We’ll have more on this soon in its own post, though now let’s get back to our review of the phone.

  • Lacking the overall slickness the iPhone offers. We’ll be very out there with this one- this phone does not match the ease of use and simplicity the iPhone offers, and there were a few times when using the phone that this became very apparent.

Final Verdict: Okay so here it is- this is a gr8 phone, works very, very well, and even passed my own expectations for it. Is this the complete iPhone killer? No. Is this a easy-to-use, feature-filled phone that gets the job done? Yes. Call quality was gr8, and that is what a phone should do right? Learning the keyboard was a breeze (keys are very spaced apart), and that tactile feedback made it even better and easier. This phone also is not terribly expensive, it costs $129.99 from Sprint’s site with a 2 year contract. Also, while Sprint also slaps on a $69.99 a month fee for the Instinct (like AT&T with the iPhone 3G), Sprint is including the “Simply Everything Plan,”  with unlimited Web, TV, E-Mail, Text and Video/Picture Messaging, and GPS, in addition to 450 anytime minutes.

I would recommend this phone as a gr8 iPhone alternative, especially for Sprint users, people who don’t want to pay AT&T for the less-featured or more expensive plans, or someone who doesn’t have the money to buy the iPhone 3G without contract (see here for our post on that pricing).

There you have it. Now are you going to go for this phone, perhaps the LG Dare for Verizon, LG Vu or iPhone 3G for AT&T, Motorola Rokr E8 for T-Mobile, or something different entirely? Let us know your choice in the comments.

Btw, special thanks to my uncle, Dr. Robert Richter, for providing us with his Samsung Instinct for this review

Posted on July 9, 2008, in Cell Phones, First Look/Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Went with the Instinct. NO regrets!

  2. i love this phone….it sometimes freezes up on me and I have to reset it but its expected on a first generation phone, but overall, i think its a great replacement for the iPhone for now….plus, you have video!!!, and an SD slot for more storage!!…overall, i think its great. And you cant go wrong with the price.

  3. hey there, i am contemplating to get this phone, my contract is up in september and i am on the telus network. my question is if you can get a micro sd wifi card, can you put it into the phone and somehow enable it to use the wifi card and therefore have wifi connectivity

  4. Hey Daniel,

    With regards to your question on adding a MicroSD WiFi card to the Instinct for WiFi access, I think you may want to think about a couple of things before you make any moves.
    1. How much extra $$$ you got after you buy this phone from Telus.
    2. How important is adding WiFi to you- the card itself is hard to find (I did a Google search and while I found info on a card coming from a company called Spectec, I couldn’t find a place to buy it or even a price on it).
    3. No word on storage space on the card- the Instinct relies on its Micro SD slot if you want to put on any music or videos, and if that is used just for WiFi, then you lose the music and videos unless you wanna carry multiple Micro SD cards around and keep swapping them in and out.
    4. There are no guarantees that this will work with the Instinct- most important info, and from Spectec’s site they say their card only works with Windows Mobile phones. You also should probably check to make sure whatever Micro SD WiFi card you get works with the Instinct before you buy it.

    Let us know if this helps, if you got any more questions, and how this all goes for you in general.

  5. i’ve put some tunes on the sd card…i cant find them or play them on the i missing somthing…?

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