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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!

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