Samsung Instinct Review
This is a CDMA phone offered with Sprint.

Touchscreen devices are nothing new, in fact they've been in the mobile world for nearly a decade, but there's no denying that the iPhone jumpstarted their popularity. In the last year there have been several attempts to replicate the iPhone experience, names like Voyager and Vu come to mind, but in reality no one has come close. Part of Apple’s success lies in their ground-up approach, a fact that went largely overlooked by competitors. Samsung and Sprint took note. Nearly a year to the day after the iPhone’s release the Instinct is here, and it is the first touchscreen device that can truly go toe-to-toe with the iPhone.

In fact, on paper the Instinct beats even the iPhone 3G. Its EVDO Rev. A data will work in more places than the iPhone 3G’s HSDPA due to Sprint’s much larger and more mature 3G network. The Instinct’s 2 megapixel camera is capable of video recording and MMS (or Sprint’s variant.) Finally, it features not only voice recognition but Speech-to-Action and it also has stereo Bluetooth. Other features include a 3.2” display, 3.5mm headset jack, GPS and microSD expansion. Paper is just that, though, and the Instinct will have to live up to its hype in the real world before being crowned.

Included in the box you’ll find:

  • 2GB microSD card
  • 2 Lithium Ion batteries
  • AC adapter
  • Battery charging sleeve
  • Stereo headphones
  • Leather pouch
  • Stylus
  • USB sync cable
  • Software CD
  • User guide


There’s no denying it, the Instinct and iPhone look similar at a glance. There’s only so much you can do with a touchscreen device though, and Samsung has done well to keep the similarities to a minimum. The pre-release pictures appear to have shown two different Instincts, one with a grey housing and the other with black, both with bright chrome trim. In reality the housing and trim are more of a gunmetal color. The housing is mirrored, making it appear brighter than the still-shiny-but-slightly-dull trim. Coupled with the black soft-touch back, it’s a darker look than the iPhone and gives the Instinct a more business-like appearance. It may or may not be intentional, but the dark mirrored background actually does a good job of hiding the fingerprints. It collects them just as you’d expect, but it doesn’t look as bad when all smudged up as the iPhone or Touch Diamond. In our opinion the soft-touch back gives the Instinct is a better look and feel than the iPhone’s metal backing. We’ll of course reserve final judgment until we see both in person, but from what we’ve seen thus far we’d take the Instinct’s flat black over the shiny black or white plastic on the iPhone 3G.

The Instinct is narrower than the iPhone by a good margin, though it is 2mm taller and undetectably thicker (by 0.2mm.) It’s slightly lighter as well, but neither phone is light. The narrowness gives it a better feel, especially when it’s being used (your thumb is navigating the device.)

You can compare the Samsung Instinct to many other phones, using PhoneArena's Visual Size Compare tool.

Perched at the top of the face is a long, stretched oval speaker. It does double duty as both the earpiece and music/ringer/speakerphone speaker. For how small it is and being mono, the sound is surprisingly good. Above and below the display sit the Samsung and Sprint logos, both in a silver finish to contrast the dark gunmetal. Below the Sprint logo are the three touch sensitive navigation keys, Back, Home and Phone. When in use they light up bright white, and like the screen they offer haptic feedback when pressed.

The display itself is 3.2” and has a resolution of 240x432 pixels with 262k colors. Samsung is known for making top quality LCD panels, and the Instinct is no exception, but unfortunately it is not as nice as the 320x480, 16M color display of the iPhone. It does seem to wash out a bit in direct sunlight, but it is still plenty readable.

The panel uses resistive touchscreen technology, meaning that it can be used with a stylus or while wearing a glove in addition to your bare fingers. The iPhone’s capacitive touchscreen cannot, but it is smoother to use partly because of multi-touch. A big advantage Samsung has over Apple is haptic feedback. Every time you touch the screen your press is confirmed with a slight vibration, which is particularly useful when typing. This feature can be turned off, but we wouldn’t want to.

The display is plenty responsive, and even when we tried to confuse it to invoke lag it kept up. There is a stop watch app, and we were able to stop the timer after just 0.05s, which is damn responsive. When typing the letter you press changes colors; there were times when that animation fell behind our typing speed but it didn’t actually miss a key press. We were very impressed, and Samsung passed a big hurdle with its performance.

On the left side of the Instinct is the volume rocker in the middle and covered charging/data port up top. It is a proprietary Samsung port, the same one found in the М520, and we really wish they would move to microUSB as they have committed to do. The right side has a microSD slot opposite the charging port, the Speech-to-Action button in the middle and Camera button down below. The rocker and S2A button are shiny black, where the camera button is bright silver, and all of them offer plenty of travel and positive feedback. At the top is the silver lock button and non-recessed 3.5mm headphone jack. The back is extremely plain, with only an embossed Samsung logo in the middle and the silver camera in the top left.

Samsung are master craftsmen, and even their low-end phones have a high-quality feel to them. It’s no surprise that the Instinct would be their best design so far, both aesthetically and in terms of build quality. The thing is simply rock solid. We’ve never felt comfortable holding the iPhone or similarly sized devices, and the Instinct is far from perfect, but it’s better that its predecessors. The narrowness plays a big factor in this, even if the screen is a bit smaller for it. The edges are smooth, the soft touch finish is reassuringly grippy and the lines clean as can be. The design isn’t original (nor is Apple’s,) but it is uniquely Samsung.



1. unregistered

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

41. mrmister unregistered

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

2. unregistered

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

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

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.

35. Joey77

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 04, 2008

WoW its actually cheap and not tough/durable.

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 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.

5. NoIMQQ unregistered

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

6. unregistered

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

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!

31. unregistered

no need for T9 when you have a keyboard!

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!

20. unregistered

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

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.

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!!!!

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.

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?

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.

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.

38. unregistered

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

12. 1DESIRE unregistered


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.

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.

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

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?

22. unregistered

ev-do is not the same as 3g

26. unregistered

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

40. tuscan_sun

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 11, 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.

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

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

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