Samsung Instinct HD Review

User Interface:

The Instinct HD is built off of the original UI, but there are many improvements. The main layout is the same; there are two environments - home and phone - and each one has several tabs. Previously, there were four tabs on each, now there are five. On the Phone side you’ll find the self-explanatory Speed Dial, Contacts, Recent, Voicemail and Dialer. The Home side still has Favs, Main, Fun and Web, and is now joined by My Stuff. There is a new lock screen this time around; instead of a press and hold of the power button (which still works) the user can slide to unlock, just like the iPhone.

Favs allows the user to set up to 12 shortcuts to menu items, bookmarks, TV channels, radio stations, playlists or to send a text or email to a specific contact. Main features commonly used items such as messaging options, navigation, calendar, settings and others. Fun houses all of the multimedia and social networking offerings of the Instinct HD and My Stuff has all of your downloaded games and apps. Lastly is Web, which now has top-tier content providers instead of a generic link to news, sports, weather, etc. Partners are CNN, ESPN,, Fandango and Bloomberg.

All of these menus except Favs allow you to view them in the familiar grid view, but like Favs, you can also view the other menus in list view. Certain apps, such as CNN,, and My Photos deliver content directly to the homescreen when in this list view. For instance, the app gives the current conditions, and if you have multiple cities set you can scroll through them. CNN delivers five headlines, and the My Photos app shows your most recent pictures snapped. These upgrades really enhance and make for a richer user experience.

The screen is very responsive, but the menu isn’t always so snappy. Performance doesn’t seem to be improved over the original too much and we were often waiting for apps to load. Granted, there is  only 84MB of internal memory, but given this isn’t a smartphone (despite Sprint and Samsung’s claim) there really isn’t an excuse for the sluggish performance. Unfortunately this is all too familiar with featurephones, and overall the Instinct HD has the best dumphone UI out there.


The phone interface is largely the same as before. Users can easily assign speed dials by touching “Tap to add,” then selecting them from the contact list. From the Speed Dial tab they can simply touch the user to call them directly, or hit the arrow key for contact details.

On the details screen the user will see the picture ID (or placeholder silhouette) at the top and the contact’s details down below. The user can tap on a number to call it, or the speech bubble next to it to send a text message. Tapping the email initiates an email. If you have the user’s address stored you can initiate a navigation session with the press of a button, or you can map the location or send the address as a text. You can also view the history for that contact, which holds all of your text messages and call logs. We would have liked to see a few more options, such as birthday info or Facebook integration, but everything is still very good.

The contacts tab of course lists your contacts, in this case alphabetically. There is no first name/last name field so it sorts by however you have them named. At the top is a “+” icon which is used to add a new contact. Along the right is a little half circle that you can drag to quickly scroll though them; as you grab it a giant “A” appears on the screen and you can run through the alphabet. Samsung has addressed one of our gripes by adding a search option at the top of the screen.

Visual Voicemail is pretty much the same as we saw the first time around. Within a contact you are given the option to send them a voice message, which is a welcome addition. We appreciate that Sprint does not charge for Visual Voicemail, it really is a fantastic product, but we wish that it was on more phones other than the Instinct line and now the Hero.

Voice dialing is the same as before, again powered by Nuance. The Speech to Action button on the left-hand side initiates this, and it goes beyond the standard voice dialing by allowing the user to launch applications or initiate a message to a particular contact. We loved it the first time around and it is still best in class. Mobile Sync still backs up your contacts to the cloud free of charge.


The original Instinct choked in this area, and the HD is not much different. It toes the line quite nicely however, and does support Exchange calendar support out of the box. Mobile Sync has a desktop client that syncs with Outlook for indirect contact sync. The phone offers remote management support so that it can be controlled by your enterprise admin.

The calendar is relatively basic, allowing you to add appointments and set a reminder alarm up to one hour before. You can set it to recur daily, weekly, monthly or yearly as well as select days of the week for it to occur. The notes program allows you to store notes and nothing else. The calculator can function as a standard calculator, tip calculator or unit converter and now when rotated it turns into a scientific calculator. The alarm clock will let you set up to 10 alarms. They can be one time use alarms, or can be set to repeat daily, Monday-Friday or Saturday and Sunday. You can set the snooze interval to 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. With the accelerometer you can now flip the phone over to snooze. Other clock features include a world clock, stopwatch and countdown timer.

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