Samsung Intercept Review

Introduction and Design

Though it may be overshadowed by another popular device on Sprint shelves, the Samsung Intercept is an important point in the carrier’s relationship with Android.  The first three devices (HTC Hero, Samsung Moment and HTC EVO 4G) were all premium devices, perched atop their lineup and representing the best the smartphone world had to offer at the time.  The Intercept is different; it’s a decidedly mid-range smartphone that doesn’t try to be more than it is.  It marks a separation from the carrier’s top tier and a move into the feature phone space.  From a feature perspective the Intercept is a downgrade from the Moment it replaces, with a smaller and lower resolution screen and EVDO Rev 0 instead of Rev A.  But it’s a smaller device with a bigger keypad, and came into the market at almost half of what the Moment did back in November.  Included with the Intercept is a 2GB microSD card and a combined AC adapter and data cable.


The Samsung Intercept is undoubtedly a better looking phone than the Moment.  Yes, the screen has shrunk from 3.2” down to 3,” but the difference isn’t very noticeable and the overall design and size is much better for it.  The Intercept is more polished and looks more like a Samsung phone; the Moment always looked like a clunky, poorly-designed step-child.  The Intercept feels more natural in your hands, thanks in part to the narrower design and tapered edges.

You can compare the Samsung Intercept with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

While the smaller screen size isn’t much of an issue, the lower resolution is.  The Moment featured an AMOLED panel at 320x480, but the Intercept knocks it down to a TFT at 240x400.  We weren’t expecting a Super AMOLED display here, but to at least keep par with its predecessor would have been nice.  The quality is noticeably degraded though it does gain a bit of readability in direct light.  We’re not crazy about the feel either; there is a considerable amount of drag when swiping around the screen.  This can at least be fixed with the addition of a screen protector if the user so chooses.

One of the changes we do like is the reworked QWERTY keyboard.  It still features the same four row design, but the keys are larger and more usable.  Furthermore Samsung has done away with the silly offset that brought the bottom edges out further than the row above it.  The space in the middle of the bottom row still remains but it is less of a nuisance this time around since it does not push that bottom row out.  The keys do not have much tactile feel to them, but thanks to their large size and definite click when pressed the Intercept is a breeze to type on.  Like the Moment the spring-assisted slide mechanism is fairly heavy, but in a good way.

The front now features four capacitive keys- a search option has been added- in addition to the optical joystick and physical send and end keys.  The right edge houses the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top and camera key at the bottom; the left side has a volume rocker and the microSD slot.  Thankfully Samsung has moved this outside and the battery no longer needs to be removed to swap cards.  The microUSB charging/data port is along the top, and near it on the back is the 3.2 megapixel camera.  At the bottom of the battery door is the single speaker, and like many recent models the door must be pried off from the bottom to be removed.  Thankfully this process is smoother than on the Samsung Restore and we did not have issues with the battery coming out.

The Intercept is a more traditional Samsung design, with familiar styling for the keys and trim.  It is offered in grey and pink, the latter of which has a nicely stylized back.  Overall the phone has more chic to it, something the Moment definitely lacked.  It is not at the expense of usability however, as the Intercept feels good in the hand and is great to type on.  The two color options will allow the Samsung Intercept to appeal to a larger customer base who may be concerned with looks just as much as performance.

Samsung Intercept 360 Degrees view:

Interface and Software:

For the most part the Samsung Intercept SPH-M910 runs stock Android 2.1, though Samsung has made a few small tweaks.  The most noticeable is a different lock screen where the user scrolls up; we prefer the vanilla Android lock screen with the two side scrolling options but it’s a minor dislike.  In the notification drawer the user now has quick access to toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Silent and Vibrate modes.  This is a change we do like.  We’ve seen widgets for these on HTC devices and in the Market, but it’s nice to have them not take up real estate especially since the Intercept only offers three screens for customization.  Of course this problem can be taken care of via the Market as well with excellent home screen replacements such as LauncherPro and ADW.Launcher.

There is noticeable lag at times throughout the interface, which is a disappointment given the phone’s healthy but not beefy 800MHz processor and 512/256MB or ROM/RAM.  It seems almost software related, as things ran much smoother with a homescreen replacement and an upgraded browser from the market (Dolphin HD, for our money.)  In fact, the more we started customizing the phone the better we liked it and the better it ran.  Ahh, the beauty of open source!

The contact list has been reworked a bit as well.  It offers Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Exchange integration.  One thing we loved to see was the option to sync everybody from our social network sites or just match with our contact list.  We don’t want every Facebook friend in our phonebook and this is one of the reasons we never setup Facebook on webOS, and why HTC’s reworked integration with Sense isn’t as good as their old one.  Unfortunately Nuance is gone on the Samsung Intercept SPH-M910, replaced by the subpar stock Android voice dialer.

There are a few preloaded apps, including Facebook, Where, a document viewer and memo pad, as well as the standard Sprint apps like TV, Navigation, NASCAR and Football Live.  Other than that the user must fend for themselves in the market.

Multimedia and Web:

Samsung touts the multimedia prowess of the Intercept on their web site, but truth be told it is the same as just about any other Android device out there.  They have not added anything special to enhance the experience and the smaller screen obviously hurts video performance.  The display is still 16 million colors rich though, so videos at least look nice on the small screen. We were able to play our XviD and MPEG-4 at resolutions up to 720x480, but our DivX and H.264 videos were not able to play on the Intercept.

The 3.2 megapixel camera has lost a flash, and in low light conditions the Intercept understandably suffers from graining.  It does very well in well-lit situations, with excellent color reproduction and good detail.  Images didn’t look so hot on-screen, but once we examined them on our computer the difference was amazing.  Options are almost nothing and video camera is even less, but videos were YouTube quality at least.  Snapping pictures does take some time; a cold boot took 4.5s to load and another 3s to autofocus and capture in general.  Sometimes the capture would be quicker, sometimes slower.

The Samsung Intercept SPH-M910 has been bumped down to EVDO Rev. 0 compared to the Moment (and any other smartphone’s) Rev. A but honestly this probably doesn’t make a difference on a handset.  The stock browser performed poorly, though it does support multi-touch gestures.  It was very choppy and slow, but moving to Dolphin Browser HD improved performance greatly for us.  Opera Mini is the ultimate browser for speed and Skyfire is another good alternative for a full-featured browser including full flash playback.

Performance and Conclusion:

Call quality was very good with the Samsung Intercept.  We had no issues hearing callers and they sounded clear and natural.  They commented that this was one of the better phones we have tested and said if there was anything to complain about it was a slight tininess, but that was nitpicking.  The battery is rated at 6.4 hours, nearly an hour higher than the Samsung Moment which didn’t come close to hitting the mark.  In our testing we were came up just short at 6.3 hours, which is still fine.  It should hold up to a day of usage without much problem, which is what a smartphone needs to do.

With a little tweaking the Samsung Intercept is a very solid mid-range Android device.  While there are some disappointments such as the lower resolution screen and lack of Rev. A, the Intercept makes up for it with a good keypad and a comfortable overall design.  The Intercept is certainly no HTC EVO 4G or Samsung Epic 4G, but rather a mid-range Android device that will deliver a lot of performance for half the price of these top-tier beasts.  With a pink version and a price tag just shy of $100 dollars we envision it being a strong seller in Sprint’s lineup.

Samsung Intercept Video Review:


  • Good, easy to use keyboard
  • Nice size and pleasing design
  • Android, baby!
  • Very good call quality


  • Low resolution (240x400) display
  • Some menu lag is present

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