Samsung Instinct: A look back at the original iPhone killer

Samsung has no doubt delivered some innovative smartphones that are constantly praised. Most recently, the Note 9 and its new set of features are setting the tone for the rest of the smartphones being released for the impending fall season. But long before the Note series, even its venerable Galaxy S line, the Korean company was banking on another long-forgotten line to make them a formidable contender in the space.

Ask anyone, chances are the vast majority of people will proclaim the original iPhone as being one of the most revolutionary phones of all time. And it certainly lives up to that reputation! But during a short period between that phone and its subsequent successor, the iPhone 3G, there was a phone released by Samsung that aimed specifically at focusing on the original iPhone's shortcomings. That phone was none other than the Samsung Instinct, which was initially released in the US through Sprint – offering a compelling package when we look back at it.

Interestingly enough, the Samsung Instinct wasn't technically classified as a smartphone at all, mainly due to the fact that it wasn't leveraging any of the major smartphone platforms at the time. Instead, it was classified more as a glorified feature phone with smartphone elements with its operation. Aesthetically, it didn't deviate from the all-touchscreen form factor that was increasingly becoming popular – with many critics saying it was without a doubt an iPhone clone with its design. However, it managed to really differentiate itself from its esteemed rival by what it was capable of doing!

For starters, the marketing campaign was relentless when it came to highlighting the Instinct's advantages over the original iPhone. Everywhere you tuned or looked at, there were commercials running on television and billboard ads that referred to the Instinct as the first and true iPhone killer. And in many ways, it did live up to that. In particular, it featured faster data speeds thanks to its CDMA EV-DO Rev A connectivity, which was indeed faster than the iPhone's 2G EDGE connection. Even though the Instinct's web browser wasn't the most intuitive, the phone's EV-DO Rev A speed was still faster.

It did what the iPhone couldn’t, like capturing video with its camera and then sending that to someone. While that may not seem unique, it was nonetheless an advantage because the original iPhone couldn’t record video. There was also built-in GPS, allowing for precise location for turn-by-turn directions – something again that was lacking on the iPhone. Even though the iPhone doubled as an iPod, there was still no way to download music wirelessly over-the-air. However, that was a feature that was available on the Instinct. Other positive standouts for the Instinct included its removable battery, ability to watch live television through the Sprint TV app, and expandable storage courtesy of its microSD card slot.

As we mentioned already, the marketing campaign for the Samsung Instinct was relentless! They really dissected the original iPhone’s shortcomings, but the phone’s downfall was honestly its release time frame. By the time it was subsequently announced, the original iPhone was nearing its end, as its successor in the iPhone 3G was released only a few weeks after the Instinct – bringing along improvements that seemingly made the Instinct’s advantages redundant. Surprisingly enough, there were two variants that were spawned, the Instinct s30 and Instinct HD, but neither were really able to recreate the disruptive nature of the original.

That all could be attributed to fact that the phones were not smartphones at all, but rather, glorified feature phones with a sprinkling of smart features. You couldn’t really download new apps to enhance its functions, so you were essentially handed all of the phone’s functions right from the get-go.What were some of your memories of the Instinct? Let us know in the comments below!

Related phones

  • Display 3.1" 240 x 432 pixels
  • Camera 2 MP
  • Storage 0.032GB
  • Battery 1000 mAh(5.75h talk time)



1. district11

Posts: 126; Member since: Apr 17, 2011

Original iPhone killer was galaxy S

2. kotan24

Posts: 321; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Lol! You don’t say...

3. darkkjedii

Posts: 31765; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

There's never been an iPhone killer. The iPhone is alive and well, and outselling everything on the market. That kinda makes it the real killer.

9. Alcyone

Posts: 615; Member since: May 10, 2018

True. Very strong sales from Apple. Gonna wait and see if they keep that lead with the 2018s on the way. If cell manufacturers just sold one series (aka lg g, HTC u, samsung s, apple i, etc) I'd like to see if Apple could hold the lead. Price point could be the breaking point for some buyers; of any brand.

12. darkkjedii

Posts: 31765; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

True words.

23. nodes

Posts: 1164; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

most of Samsung profits come from their low - mid tier phones. i don't think any other company beside Apple could do with only premium priced phones. i mean look at Google Pixels sales.

10. maherk

Posts: 7065; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Exactly. No phone should even be referred to as the iPhone killer. Huge smartphone makers went bankrupt and the iPhone is still breaking sales records, and almost every Android OEM, except for few like Samsung and Sony, are shamelessly copying iPhone, even Google are following Apple's lead in designing their phones.

11. darkkjedii

Posts: 31765; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Exactly, don't even know why he posted that, other than to troll. Apple sits in a very good position with the iPhone, and the way others use it as the benchmark shows that it is in fact the killer.

15. Sagemode87

Posts: 39; Member since: Aug 16, 2018

Um no, you'll have to find another argument outside of sales. Samsung and Huawei are ahead of Apple.

17. darkkjedii

Posts: 31765; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

How about you ask these OEM's what their goals are with these iPhone killers, then get back to me. If they're so far ahead, and killing the iPhone, why is it still the most coveted phone out there? I'll wait.

18. darkkjedii

Posts: 31765; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I'm waiting.

20. MarvzIsFallen

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Don’t tell me about cheap $200 garbage phones from them.

5. Phullofphil

Posts: 1846; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

Galaxy s was a complete iPhone ripoff

13. darkkjedii

Posts: 31765; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

In the beginning, it strongly copied the iPhone, but it has since taken on its own identity.

16. Sagemode87

Posts: 39; Member since: Aug 16, 2018

Comments like these is why people hate Apple fans. Apple didn't innovate anything, they just had the largest following initially.

28. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

You mean the laggiest phone made by Samsung.

4. delthor7

Posts: 10; Member since: Nov 30, 2012

I had this phone. Great GPS & turn by turn directions!

6. Phullofphil

Posts: 1846; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

I had a Samsung omnia wich was Windows mobile 6 I think. It was a very capable phone. What I hated was the plastic resistive touch screen. Calibrated twice a day. It was a lot better than what Sam song used on this phone the instinct. Just like I said Wayback win if they want to use a glass panels touchscreen like iPhone add eventually used and had an app stores I had apps that were less than 30 bucks to buy they could’ve competed with the iPhone with that platform. The problem is when does decided to redo the whole thing and took forever to come out with something that had no App Store at the time or very poor one. If they would have skinned the windows to accommodate a glass touch screen with fingers instead of a stylus and figured out an App Store. I think that they could have bought some time to compete and not fizzle away. They just would not listen to all the people telling them.

7. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3192; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

I was briefly on Sprint during this time because of my Nextel work requirements and I chose the Palm Treo 800 as my personal phone over the Instinct specifically because of Outlook and Palm's version of Google Maps. The Instinct was definitely NOT a smartphone.

8. Alcyone

Posts: 615; Member since: May 10, 2018

Funny. Still with the iPhone ripoff bit. Guess, one could say iPhone was a ripoff of the LG Prada. Yeah, it was a phone model, and yes it was released before the LG iPhone (albeit no US release).

14. joeyfingaz

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

ahh the LG Prada. Still want one of those bad boys(not sure why but I do). Also the LG Dare was the US "version" of the Prada.

35. Crossblade

Posts: 224; Member since: Apr 21, 2005

It was announced AFTER the iPhone.

19. tempdogg74

Posts: 136; Member since: Jan 04, 2009

I loved the Instinct was a great phone at the time for Sprint.

21. matistight

Posts: 1054; Member since: May 13, 2009

Nothing that runs on Sprint can kill...anything

22. CDexterWard

Posts: 138; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

Too true. Worst 2 1/2 years of my life, mobile-wise. Data signal was weak everywhere except, ironically, in my work building where Verizon & AT&T failed. Go figure.

24. kabhijeet.16

Posts: 895; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

"LG PRADA" -- the phone which brought the design Apple could copy.

27. nodes

Posts: 1164; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

you might as well say that Apple copied the very first cellphone.

30. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Lg Prada and Samsung instinct both copy Nokia 5800.

37. Crossblade

Posts: 224; Member since: Apr 21, 2005

Is this sarcasm? Nokia 5800 was announced an year after the iPhone.

36. Crossblade

Posts: 224; Member since: Apr 21, 2005

The Prada was announced AFTER the IPhone, you should get your facts checked.

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