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Samsung Instinct Review

Samsung Instinct 9

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Samsung Instinct Review
Camera performance was underwhelming, which unfortunately is a growing trend with Samsung in the US. It is a 2 megapixel camera, but is no autofocus and in fact there are not even any options. Color representation was pretty good, but edges were soft and pictures turned out grainy to the point of being pixilated. Results were better under natural lighting conditions, but still far from what we’d determine as good. It records video as well, but the only option you have here is to keep the videos under two minutes so they could be uploaded, or to record until you run out of memory. Samsung really dropped the ball here, and we are pretty shocked to see no image controls.

The picture album is nifty, though again not on par with competitors. Images can be viewed either in a standard grid, or in a cover flow style. Tapping the image zooms in and out, and in full screen mode you can flick back and forth to change pictures. Images look good on the high resolution display, and when setting a background image you can rotate, zoom and center the image to your liking. Unfortunately, as we said earlier, you only see the wallpaper when the phone comes out of sleep and is waiting to be unlocked.

Outdoor sample - Samsung Instinct Review
Outdoor sample - Samsung Instinct Review
Outdoor sample - Samsung Instinct Review

Outdoor sample

Strong light - Indoor samples - Samsung Instinct Review
Medium light - Indoor samples - Samsung Instinct Review
Low light - Indoor samples - Samsung Instinct Review

Strong light

Medium light

Low light

Indoor samples


The Instinct has the potential to be a multimedia powerhouse, featuring OTA music downloads, live TV and streaming radio. On the music side it supports MP3, AAC, AAC+ and WMA files, while the video player handles the H.264 and MPEG4 codecs.

Audio quality was good, and the sound quality was on par with our iPod. With its 3.5mm headset jack the user is free to use whatever headphones they like. Sound was surprisingly good out of the speaker as well. A small set of aftermarket speakers would no doubt be bigger, but it does a good job with what it has.

Music playback is handled by the Sprint Music Store. It’s gotten a redesign for the Instinct, but functionality remains the same. It’s fairly basic, with only shuffle and repeat options, but easy to use. The store portion lends itself to finger-friendliness and searching for music is simple. The player displays the song information on the top, with the album art dominating most of the display. There is a time bar towards the bottom and previous track, play/pause and next track controls below it.

Sprint Music Store - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint Music Store - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint Music Store - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint Music Store - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint Music Store - Samsung Instinct Review

Sprint Music Store

Unfortunately it still has issues with ID3 tags at times, and for some reason it seems to be worse this time around. We side-loaded five or six albums to test and it read the song information on all but one, though it did not read the artwork on any of them. A bigger issue we had was that it completely didn’t recognize a certain album we loaded. The files were in mp3 format, properly tagged with embedded album art but the player just didn’t see it at all. We have even used this album with the Sprint Music Store in past reviews, so something is definitely amiss.

The Sprint TV application also looks different on the Instinct, and handles side-loaded videos as well. In TV mode it has a sidebar to the left, and the channel listings on the right. Unfortunately the mediocre quality is only exaggerated on the Instinct’s high resolution screen. Side-loaded videos didn’t look much better unfortunately, and the Instinct is well behind the iPhone In this regard.

Sprint TV - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint TV - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint TV - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint TV - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint TV - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint TV - Samsung Instinct Review

Sprint TV

Sprint Radio is a separate application than TV, but has a similar layout. Like the TV service, it offers content that is live, made for mobile or on-demand. An added feature of Sprint radio is that there are hundreds of local channels available from across the country.

Sprint Radio - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint Radio - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint Radio - Samsung Instinct Review

Sprint Radio


Since it is built on a Java platform, the Instinct can run many Java applications. However, due to its unique no soft key layout and touchscreen display, most current apps won’t work. We were able to load Opera Mini, but then couldn’t do anything with it and Google wouldn’t even let us download Google Maps since it didn’t know what phone we had. Since this is a new phone and new platform this is to be expected, but we hope developers start working on applications sooner rather than later.

Live Search - Samsung Instinct Review
Live Search - Samsung Instinct Review
Live Search - Samsung Instinct Review
Live Search - Samsung Instinct Review
Live Search - Samsung Instinct Review

Live Search

Sprint Navigation - Samsung Instinct Review
Sprint Navigation - Samsung Instinct Review

Sprint Navigation

The Instinct comes pre-loaded with a few very nice programs. We’ve seen Live Search on other phones, as well as Sprint Navigation, but for the first time the two can talk to each other. Live Search’s voice recognition capability means you can search for businesses and get local results based on your GPS location. A simple tap and you can start a navigation session to guide you there. Navigation on the large display looks beautiful. We’ve often though that Sprint Navigation was missing voice prompts, and while Live Search can’t look up specific addresses by voice it’s still very handy.

The Instinct’s Speech-to-Action is powered by VoiceSignal’s Vsuite. VoiceSignal has long been one of our favorite programs, and it seems that the Instinct is running an updated version. It seems to work better, and it picks up the wrong command (for example, “Jane Doe Mobile 2” instead of just “Jane Doe Mobile”) it will tell you that the number doesn’t exist and ask if you’d like to call a different Jane Doe number. In the past it would just let you know that no number existed and then time out. You can actually launch Live Search with it, meaning that you can pretty much start a navigation session completely with your voice.

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posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:55

1. (unregistered)

thank you for rating the PHONE, not like those who just hate sprint and say the phone sucks. Great job.

posted on 08 Aug 2010, 02:25

41. mrmister (unregistered)

Hi, Thanks for the review, i'm considering this phone but still i like my Samsung Hype.Pls. visitwww.samsunghype.com

posted on 21 Jun 2008, 23:05

2. (unregistered)

Thanks for your review. I already order one........ let's see how it looks.......n will definitely write comments ...

posted on 09 Jul 2008, 18:37

23. canevaro24 (unregistered)

Believe me I have one, this is a beatiful phone and it does more than the iphone plus it comes with an extra battery as everyone knows iphones dont have that

posted on 22 Jun 2008, 01:05

3. mock5 (unregistered)

Went to play with the device at a Sprint Store, I must say it's not what I thought it would be, it honestly feels quite cheap in the hand and it lacks the simplicity that the iphone has with its OS. but, if that's your thing I am sure it will work for you. The speeds with the data varied based on reception, although when it had full bars I didn't notice much lag on it, the phone did freeze a few times on me. The GPS was quite a nice touch, the music player which got low marks already wasn't that great. All and all it wasn't enough to make me go back to Sprint, sorry to say I am going to wait for the iphone 3G when it comes out and if that's not as a WOW factor as the original was for me I am going to bank on the Samsung Omnia with it's FM Radio, 5 MPXL camera, Wi-Fi, WinMo 6.1 and HSDPA. Plus it's a phone I can take with me overseas. All and all I can see why the price was knocked down to 129.99 for it. Just not that stellar.

posted on 05 Oct 2008, 10:11

35. Joey77 (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 Oct 2008)

WoW its actually cheap and not tough/durable.

posted on 22 Jun 2008, 15:49

4. (unregistered)

I purchased his phone on the 19th and must say this review is the closest to the experience I have had so far. The QWERTY is extremely accurate and easy to use right out of the box. I did want to point out that you do not need to use the virtual back space button as the permanent back button next to home icon will work as well. I also had trouble with the virtual back space button which will make the keyboard disappear if you missed it. Also I was able to load Google Maps by sending the text link to myself via google.com. The UI is very easy and user friendly but seems to be pretty dumbed down. I was surprised with the lack of options under the Settings icon. My favorite feature is the Sprint Navigation which like the review stated works hand in hand with Live Search. The Navigation was quite to re-route when I would purposely not follow where it told me to go. I can search everything from gas by price to just about anything else under the sun with easy which is all categorized and once you find what you are looking for you are given the phone number, a map, driving directions, and the ability to send the info to anyone! All in all t is a great phone for what I need. If you are looking for email access you are better off to stick with your BB, WM, or Palm because the Instinct will not cut. It is far from a smart phone but has to be one of the best multi-media/GPS phones.

posted on 22 Jun 2008, 18:54

5. NoIMQQ (unregistered)

No... I ... M.... nice....

posted on 22 Jun 2008, 19:00

6. (unregistered)

its just a java app, so i wouldnt be surprised to see it in the near future. not shipping with it, however...

posted on 24 Jun 2008, 01:09

7. (unregistered)

I was able to download google maps and use it just fine on my Instinct. I agree with all the cons. The camera sucks and not having T9 is pretty dumb. I hate not having the ability to personalize the phone with a wallpaper that I can see longer than 2 seconds. Other than that it is great!

posted on 27 Aug 2008, 10:41

31. (unregistered)

no need for T9 when you have a keyboard!

posted on 25 Jun 2008, 01:31

8. JohnJohn (unregistered)

I was going to switch from Sprint to AT&T with iPhone 3G but then I took an hour and tried out Sprint Instinct at the store. It is an awesome phone and a serious competitor (except browser which will be resolved with Opera Mini soon). Other than that, it is very customizable, single handed operation for most stuff, fast Touch-screen response, real GPS (unlike iPhone which just tacks on Google Maps) with turn-by-turn directions. You can even download Google maps (both street view and satellite view) on Sprint Instinct (should be integrated with GPS in a little while as well). The voice command search is awesome (you say Chinese Food and it will find nearby using GPS and even give you a one-touch number to call or one-touch to turn-by-turn GPS directions), and 30+ TV channels and a lot of Radio channels are included. It also has a camcorder that iPhone doesn't. It is perfect size (iphone is too wide). And best of all, for $69.99 single line or $129.99 for 2 lines, you get everything that iPhone 3G will provide plus UNLIMITED Text messaging (iPhone will cost $20 extra per month!) and UNLIMITED TV and RADIO time (no TV or Radio on iPhone)! The TeleNav GPS on Instinct is like high-end GPS unit for a car and it has voice command with real names of streets. It also checks for real-time traffic alerts and re-routes you! You can even set Instinct up to announce (text to voice) the names of phone callers on incoming calls or text messages! And it cost me $129.99 at BestBuy (no mail-in rebates needed) with renewal of 2-year contract (I was 23 months into the contract). This is the best deal for my money and I got 2 of them for me and my wife and she loves it!

posted on 07 Jul 2008, 16:21

20. (unregistered)

Too bad this sweet phone is on one of the worst "nationwide" networks available. Poor Sprint.

posted on 27 Aug 2008, 10:43

32. (unregistered)

here we go, we know Sprint isnt your cup of tea but it works great for me and my family for the last 5 yrs.

posted on 25 Jun 2008, 23:06

9. (unregistered)

now what's left? Sprint needs to improve they network. I still believe vzw and att has the best network in the business. Without a good ASS network all of this ain't possible. Because u will be frustrated with the phone but really is not ur phone is the cell towers that SUCKS!!!!

posted on 26 Jun 2008, 16:35

10. (unregistered)

its all about what works in your area, but as one who uses both vzw and sprint and travels a lot i have to admit that sprint has surpassed vzw in the past two years or so. they keep getting better, while my vzw service deteriorates.

posted on 26 Jun 2008, 17:12

11. (unregistered)

The real deal killer for me on the Instinct is that it currently lacks the ability to open PDF's and Office doc's, no push email, and no calendar sync. I know this is not intended as a "business" phone, but these are serious drawbacks for anyone considering the phone for anything but play. Does anyone know if these shortfalls will be addressed?

posted on 27 Jun 2008, 10:16

13. (unregistered)

Hopefully the SDK release will solve some if not all of the probelms you listed. The other option is wait util they release the Andriod version which I've read is expected Q4 08 or Q1 09.

posted on 27 Aug 2008, 10:47

33. (unregistered)

well working in retail and selling Sprint this phone is mainly for play, no calender sync and no plans of correcting that as of yet. also this device is not ment to compete with your current line of PDA phones it is not even classifyed as such by samsung and sprint.

posted on 25 Nov 2008, 13:30

38. (unregistered)

do you mean that there is no way to sync your phone with your computer??

posted on 26 Jun 2008, 20:40

12. 1DESIRE (unregistered)


posted on 27 Jun 2008, 10:21

14. (unregistered)

Have you tried to typing on the Instincts virtual keyboard yet? I wasn't sure I would like it myself but after the first day I was amazed with how responsive it was. The only problem I have is the "?" is right next to the space bar so I somethings have a "?" instead of a space.

posted on 27 Jun 2008, 10:39

15. (unregistered)

Did anyone know that if you are using the GPS or radio that you will not receive phone calls. They go right to voice mail.

posted on 30 Jun 2008, 08:02

17. (unregistered)

I received a call on Saturday night while I was using the Navigation so you may have a probelm with your phone. Now if I'm watching TV or using the RAdio app it will go to VM but not when I'm using the Nav

posted on 30 Jun 2008, 04:31

16. Sara98 (unregistered)

I enjoyed reading this review thank you phone arena. The only inaccurate item in your review is saying sprint has the largest 3g network. If you go off of sprints website their EV-DO is available to over 230 million people in the U.S. If you go off of Verizon's website their EV-DO coverage is available to over 245 million people. But hey who's perfect?

posted on 08 Jul 2008, 14:07

22. (unregistered)

ev-do is not the same as 3g

posted on 10 Jul 2008, 15:12

26. (unregistered)

ev-do is the name of 3g that sprint and verizon use.

posted on 11 Dec 2008, 08:23

40. tuscan_sun (Posts: 2; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)

"largest" can mean geographical area, rather than metro population coverage. Personally when assessing a network coverage i dont care about the other 244,999,999 folks.. i want the largest geographical coverage from a network.

posted on 30 Jun 2008, 12:27

18. sprintrules01 (unregistered)

These are all the known device issues so far, glad i didnt get it as soon as it came out, :) Customer may experience slow response or service unavailability on the Samsung Instinct (M800) MicroSD card not recognized on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Important Voicemail information regarding Swaps to the Samsung Instinct (M800) Issue with sending a 2 min video to another carrier on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Wireless backup to Mobile Sync not working on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Mobile Sync times out with large address books on the Samsung Instinct (M800) User Guide is not included in the box on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Phone as Modem not supported on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Prohibited services with Visual Voicemail on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Lotus Notes not supported by Desktop Sync at launch on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Sprint Mobile Sync MySprint headers missing on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Sprint Mobile Sync / MySprint Authentication issue on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Desktop Sync email issue on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Sprint Mobile Sync entries missing on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Intermittent Sprint Mobile Email delays on the Samsung Instinct (M800) USB phone off when in USB mode on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Intermittent TV Quality Issues on the Samsung Instinct (M800) Some websites will not recognize Instincts web browser as capable of handling PC formatted versions of a site on the Samsung Instinct (M800) SOFTWARE UPGRADE There are no Known Issues of this Type EXCHANGE / REPAIR There are no Known Issues of this Type

posted on 02 Jul 2008, 12:27

19. Al in TX (unregistered)

I got my Instinct the day it came out, and now I'm on my 2nd one. The GPS and the Live search only work when it feels like it. I just moved and it has gotten me lost TWICE for over 30 minutes each. One more mess up and I'm turning it back in and reactivating my old trusty M1 flip phone.

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Display3.1 inches, 240 x 432 pixels (159 ppi) TFT
Camera2 megapixels
Size4.57 x 2.17 x 0.49 inches
(116 x 55 x 12.5 mm)
4.40 oz  (125 g)
Battery1000 mAh, 5.75 hours talk time

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