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Instinct-ive Responses

If you think today's review of Sprint's Samsung Instinct sounds harsh, you should know that I got to like this phone a little better as I used it over the past couple of weeks.

Initially, I thought it was a warmed-over LG Voyager, the touch-screen phone Verizon Wireless sells and was once foolish enough to say would "kill the iPhone." Indeed, one of Sprint's ads for the Instinct approvingly quotes some tech-news site's evaluation of the device as an "iPhone killer"--which is up there with calling something an "iPod killer" in the techno-hubris department.

But when evaluated in its own right, and not in a "why is this not an iPhone?" perspective, the $230-before-rebate Instinct isn't all that bad and even has a few features worth emulating. Although it doesn't offer the ingenious "multi-touch" gesture-based controls of the iPhone and Microsoft's Surface, the Instinct's own touch-screen interface generally keeps things sensible and simple. Its onscreen keyboard's buttons look enormous compared to the physical keys on a BlackBerry or Treo (although they're disengaged from the screen's "haptic" force-feedback capability, in that the screen buzzes slightly whether you touch a key or any other part of the screen).

I also appreciated the clarity of Sprint's all-inclusive plans--although if you don't make much use of text messaging or don't care for Sprint's video and music services, they become much less of a bargain.

But I also kept seeing a fundamental inattention to detail that robbed the Instinct of much of its potential elegance.

* That screen was hard to read in direct sunlight--especially when Instinct programs like its music player use a light-gray-on-dark-gray palette.

* Most of the time, the onscreen keyboard sticks to the standard QWERTY layout, but in some modes it switches to an alphabetized layout.

* The failure to include any sort of calendar-synchronization software is bad enough, but then look at the sloppy, awkward software Sprint provides to sync an Outlook or Outlook Express contacts list to the Instinct's own address book. Even though the Instinct features "picture caller ID," where your friend's photo appears when he or she calls, this software did not bring over pictures saved in an Outlook 2007 contacts list.

* When I tapped the "Sports" icon on the Instinct's Web home page, entered a Northern Virginia Zip code, and tapped the "My Teams" link, that page led off with the Orioles, the Phillies, the Pirates and the Mets -- with the Nationals nowhere in sight. (Does Peter Angelos have any relatives working at Sprint? Somebody needs to look into this.)

* The Sprint music store lets you search by artist, but when you tap that artist's name you get a list of songs, not albums. And its search function seemed quite confused: It could find "R.E.M." and "Accelerate" in separate queries, but a search for for "r.e.m. accelerate" yielded nothing.

Years ago, the witty, profane and (sadly) now-defunct Web site Suck suggested that anything in the universe could be judged by how it landed on two basic scales: "shiny" to "not shiny" and "useful" to "useless." I think this is a fantastic way to evaluate a phone: The iPhone is both shiny and useful, the Treo is not shiny but useful--and the Instinct is quite shiny but, alas, less than useful.

I could be entirely wrong in this assessment, as Sprint apparently can't keep the Instinct in stock. Have you bought one? If so, how have you used it: 1) as a phone that also function as a handheld organizer; 2) as a phone that includes a Web browser and e-mail software; 3) as a phone that doubles as your multimedia player?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  July 3, 2008; 11:33 AM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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Comments

peep peep peep

Sounds to me like the Instinct is soon to B Extinct.

This hand held is going to have SO VERY MANY ISSUES both software and hardware. This thing is right there with the Zune!. Nowhere real fast. These guys are living a pipe dream.

NO WIFI, Batt life sucks, No app store, iPhone Killer?
Thats what MSFT said about the Zune along with how many others!!!! against the iPod. History will you give your answer.

BTW That soon to be Extinct only comes with 2gigs so will have to shell out more$$$ to get additional storage.
Good luck Sprint. Your GONA NEED IT!

Posted by: iJah420 | July 3, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I just brought the instinct and think it has the potential to be the "i-phone killer", however, I dont see that happening right away because of some needed functions and necessities it lacks, plus apple has the best marketing tactics around their products. My complaints:
No software available at this present time; I cant's search through my contacts; contacts listing doesn't view enough information on the main screen..it just shows the names.

Posted by: RED | July 3, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

People think AT&T & AAPL are a rip off????

You have to sign A THREE YEAR CONTRACT WITH SPRINT TO GET THE $149.95 PRICE!!!!!!!! 3 YEARS!!!

Sprints' data plans will suck you dry. WHY? The Instinct DOES NOT HAVE WiFi. I use WiFi ALL the time with my iPod Touch.. get email, surf, chat, etc.... No data charge to me other than my broadband co. Can't wait to get my hands on a New iPhone 3G...

For the record....

The Instinct will be available for $149.95 on a three-year contract, $249.95 on a two-year contract or $399.95 on a one-year contract. Without a contract, the phone will be available for $449.95.

iJah420 says happy 4th of July SPRINT!!!

Posted by: ijah420 | July 3, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

the instict is $129.99 after a $100 mail in rebate with a TWO YEAR CONTRACT; NOT A THREE YEAR CONTRACT. Get your facts straight. So, you will pay $229.99 with a two year contract in the store, then get $100 back after the mail in rebate to effectively make the price $129.99.

You need wifi on the apple device because 1) the ipod doesn't connect to a cellular network & 2) it's no mystery that the current phone's wireless data speed is horrible.

Posted by: anonymous | July 3, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

You douche. You just quoted the contract commitments for the Instinct in CANADA. The US is only a 2 yr contract for the 140.00 Instinct.

I have had the Instince since 6/19 and thus far it has been a great phone. I will not say its an iPhone killer but unless you have and iPod, thousands of purchased songs in iTunes and lots of iPod accessories, the iPhone isn't something to jump into. I use an MP3 player and have lots of MP3 and WMA songs which work just great with the Instinct. Even have some videos and several photos on the phone.

Yes, it only comes with 2GB but an 8GB micro SD card is only 36.00 at Amazon.com. GPS has been awesome and very useful. I do wish the Outlook sync interface was more user friendly. I think the phone itself is good and the voice dialing capabilities are outstanding. Push a button and say "call name mobile" and whalah, it calls the person.

I've only gotten to tool around with the TV and Radio features but watching CNN Live mobile and listening to streaming alternative rock were cool. Texting is threaded and easy to do and thought battery life for me has maxed out at just 5 hours, I was using it very heavily for GPS and surfing. I had the additional battery (which they include) with me and just did a quick swap and I was up and running again.

So with that said, I am very happy so far with my Instinct. I certainly think the iPhone is a great phone and recommend it for people with a lot invested into their iPods/iTunes, otherwise... I tell people to at least give Sprint a look. Cheers!

Posted by: Clairty | July 3, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

One more thing - since the phone requires the simply everything plan, how could the data plans suck you dry??? your only limit is the voice minutes depending on which simply everything plan you choose.

Posted by: anonymous | July 3, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The Instinct is my first smart phone and I am pretty impressed with what it can do. True, it is not like the iPhone in regards to technical specifications, but it does everything that I need it to do. The data plans that Sprint has are less expensive than those offiered by it's competitors (especially Verizon). Since I have never owned another smart phone, I don't have a benchmark to work with. However, the amount of credits/discounts I had accrued with Sprint completely paid for the phone and then-some leaving me with a negative balance on my bill.

Posted by: LsIuNsUeX | July 3, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Now see who rips off....The universal ever rip off company ATT.

Monthly Anytime Minutes
Sprint Everything Plans- unlimited messaging, e-mail, mobile Web, Blackberry Internet Service, GPS Navigation, Sprint TV Premier, Sprint Music Premier, NFL Mobile, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile

AT&T Nation Plans - unlimited e-mail and mobile Web

For 450 minutes, Sprint charges $69.99 and ATT charges $69.99 (additional $20 for unlimited text). Did you see the additional $20 for unlimited text..

For 900 minutes, Sprint charges $89.99 and ATT charges $89.99 (additional $20 for unlimited text). Did you again see the additional $20 for unlimited text..

For everything unlimited plan Sprint's Simply Everything is $99.99..ATT charges
$129.99 (additional $20 for unlimited text), again $20 additional for unlimited text...So ATT does not have a true unlimited everything plan.

Posted by: ATTSucks | July 3, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

The instinct cannot do a voice memo.
The instinct cannot do a cut and paste.
The instinct cannot play a .wav file in an email.
The instinct cannot be an iPhone killer.

Posted by: Returning for a blackberry | July 3, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I find your blog both 'not shiny' & 'useless'. As for instinct, I think it packs a punch with haptic feedback, great GPS, good call quality plus decent Sprint network and data plan at price tag of $129 with two year contract. As a company I hate Sprint.

Posted by: About this blog & Instinct | July 3, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

As I've posted before.

Instinct is fooling lots of users that its just like the iPhone. Calling it a touchscreen like the iPhone is the biggest load of junk I have read from reviewers and ads. The Instinct uses the same "primitive" touchscreen as your ATM/Grocery Store/WalMart type of device. iPhone is multi-touch screen. A lot smarter than those. Mac OS X running the device, hardware accelerated for Open GL ES, so that graphics and games are console level. Not phone level. Some of the games shown were just awesome.

Apple built real intelligence with the keyboard also. It adaps, learns and suggest the right words. It has an active dictionary to learn new words that you use frequently. Not just regular words, but names and places also. Simply amazing intelligence built in the OS for the keyboard.

Enterprise support, over the air sync, sensors to control light and how the device adjust for the users proximity... Don't forget the SDK that more powerful than previous SDK for handhelds. Developers are coming out with apps that just can't be matched by Instinct. Its too bad these Instinct buyers will walk away with such an inferior device thinking they got a phone as good as the iPhone. Starting July 11th, a lot of them will feel duped by Samsung and their tricky ads.

Posted by: slappy | July 3, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

@slappy: Congratulations on posting the 9,000th comment on this blog. (Or, if you count all comment spam that gets junked, the 25,000th comment.)

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | July 3, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I've been comparing the two and surprisingly the Instinct comes out on top in some fairly significant ways. I have decided I won't buy an iPhone because it is a complete lock-in with no way out except ways that void your warranty.

Note these are some of my notes - these are features and advantages the Instinct has that the iPhone doesn't have :

-- User Replaceable battery. The replaceable battery is a big issue with many people (especially in Japanese marketplace). iPhone doesn't have a replaceable battery. Instinct provides you with an extra.

-- GPS. Tele-Nav navigation feature. You can tap movies and it will provide nearby move theater offerings.

-- Expandable Memory. Despite the review's issue with 2GB - you can upgrade it to 8GB by simply getting buying an off-the-shelf larger MicroSD card. If a larger capacity card comes out - you can buy that. iPhone locks you in to what the capacity was the day you buy it at the store. Iphone has no expansion. One aspect is that a user may not be using it as a music player so why pay for the extra memory ? Instinct has better memory architecture - from a user perspective.

-- Price. You can get an Instinct for $130 (after rebate) - that less than the $200 iPhone.

-- Applications. There are hundreds of Java Mobile applications - iPhone can't run any of them - not even one ... because the iPhone doesn't run Java. Instinct supports the latest Java standards. Adding Java apps to your Instinct is easy.

-- Stylus or Finger. You can't use a stylus with the iPhone but you can choose between using your finger or a stylus with the Instinct.

-- Streaming TV. Instinct supports streaming TV and offers up a bunch of channels. iPhone doesn't have support for streaming TV. Don't expect HDTV quality and but then it's a feature that's foreign to most phones

-- Mobile Radio. Streaming radio stations through Sprint (as opposed to FM reciever).

-- Stereo Bluetooth with Audio caller ID.

-- Camera Video Capture.

-- Carrying Case included.

-- Tactile Feedback. iPhone doesn't have it and Instinct provides tactile feedback whenever you click on icon or button. Very useful UI.

-- Voice Commands. iPhone doesn't have voice commands. Instinct's Voice input button allows you to initiate calls, text messages, etc. Funny that of all things you would have expected Apple to get that right given that the product is a phone. It turns out Samsung has a first-rate voice command offering.

-- Plan Price. Sprint's monthly plan price (all you can eat $100) is way less expensive than iPhone's AT&T lock-in price ($130-150).

Hope this helps.

Posted by: Charles | July 3, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I got the instinct the day it came out. I have been in cell phone business for years and i can say that the Instinct is a GREAT phone. I do not want to compare with apple IPhone because no matter what u say the 3G IPhone will not be as fast as the Instinct u like it or not. 3G is no where close to EVDO in speed. Its a great product and its not an Iphone killer . It will give it some competition for sure.

Posted by: sam | July 3, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I bought an Instinct last week, and thus far, I love it. The web browsing is good, it seems to do best on WAP pages, but could do with a function that reformats pages so there's less horizontal scrolling. The music player is OK, but kinda buggy. The GPS is awesome. The haptic feedback is really cool. The camera is OK. All of these things could seriously benefit from software updates. They didn't hit it out of the park, but a double is halfway there.

Posted by: Lou | July 3, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Just an fyi... If you buy it from Best Buy, it is only $130.00 for the phone with a 2 year commitment. Best Buy swallows the $100 mail-in-rebate. That is how I got mine. $170.00 out the door with activation, and tax.

Posted by: Hank | July 3, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I also bought an Instinct on the first day after carefully studying the features since it was first announced.

It's not an iPhone. The iPhone is not an Instinct. They have unique feature sets that can't be compared directly. The features that can be compared are a wash. iPhone wins some. Instinct wins other. I prefer the Instinct for it's feature list, and the service available where I live. AT&T doesn't do my town.

Posted by: 4DThinker | July 3, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

We got the Instinct the day before it was made available to the general public. I had the Treo for at least 4 years and thought it was the best thing ever. I am not a big fan of iPhone, iPod, etc. They are all overrated. The Instinct, as someone mentioned before, is not an iPhone and nor is it supposed to be. Buy a phone that has the capabilities you want and not to find what it doesn't have. Everything designed, developed, will have flaws and will have upgrades. The phone is awesome compared to the many other Sprint phones I have. Even today I have friends that have the iPhone and are considering switching to the Instinct. Oh yeah, someone mentioned the Zune becoming extinct. The Zune is better than and iPod I have seen and it does what I need it to do.

Posted by: InstinctZune | July 3, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

G-Phone + Android = iPhone Killer...

Posted by: Johnny Bukkaka | July 3, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I bought an Instinct last week and I love it. I think the iPhone is overrated and for the price and the plan, you can't beat the Instinct! There are no hidden fees. You pay $99 a month for unlimited everything. I don't think the Instinct is "trying" to be an iPhone, I think Sprint just came out with a great phone and a great plan! Way to go Sprint!

Posted by: sincitygirl | July 3, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I have a question. why is it that people compare apples to apples with Iphone and Insticnt? Look at the features each on has and balance which one is better. First of all Instinct Has turn by turn GPS....IPhone?
Sprint has a VIDEO camera... IPhone?
Srpint uses EDVO network...Current IPhone?(yes i know abut the new 3g but are they out?) Iphone has more functionality with other devices and syncing up to Outlook, and better keyboard. and you can it is a platform device. However, this is the best Touch Screen Smart Phone I have seen that is anywhere near the capability of the Iphone. I disagree that it is an Iphone Killer, i think titles like that are foolish. Companies should just try to make the best phone they can.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I love this phone! The main reason I did not get an iphone is because of att's network, the size of the phone, and the battery.

It's an entertainment, personal use phone. Not a "smart phone" if you want to do business with it then get a blackberry.

Voice Recognition

The voice command is awesome, you say "hamburgers" and the phone's GPS finds your location, finds all places in the city I am in(or you can say a city and state) and it will list all places that sell hamburgers or whatever you are looking for. If you want to go to one of the choices just click it and the GPS navigates you there.

The voice recognition is spot on!

GPS

I was going to get one of those nifty GPS devices, but after using this phone, I have no need. The GPS is better then many of the hand held ones on the market. Except it does not work if you have no cell coverage, only downside.

Want to find cheap gas click the button gas by price and it will list all the gas in the area and it's price and click on and you're navigated there.

Movies

Out on the town and need to know whats playing and where in your area, click one button and it's all there for you. Click navigate and the GPS will guide you there.

Web Browsing

Very fast at loading pages, faster then any iphone or blackberry, I have ever seen. YouTube videos load fast. In fact I love browsing the web on this phone, after learning the interface its easy as pie.

TV/Radio

Awesome! Many choices to view TV on the go. I have watched live TV waiting for my plane, friends, etc. It may be mobile tv but it works well.

The Radio is great, you can even watch videos and if want karaoke.

Texting

I love texting on this phone, big keyboard, you can flip and its similar to the iphone, except you can send pictures and video that you take with the phone.

Email

The built in email application is great for me since I use gmail. and setting up my work and school email was a snap, I also like how it notifies you when you get a new email and you don't have o open up the web bowser.

In all its sleek fast and functional. I love what this phone can do for me in my personal life. So for you die hard ATT iphone fans go for the new iphone and enjoy I will stick with my Instinct.

Posted by: Kevin | July 3, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

its $129 after all rebates just called. I didn't ask about the contract amount though...

Posted by: no name | July 3, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Who ever buys the instinct because they think it's an Iphone killer will be gravely dissapointed. The very attractive price is also too good to be true for those Sprint customers under contract who are not eligable for an upgrade (There was no mention of this in any of the ads that I read. And I read many of them). I am just switching to AT&T when the new Iphone 3g comes out. I've had it with Sprint and had it with this diabolical Treo, due to which I have missed many chances of going out on dates due to the text messaging which sucks!

Posted by: mac | July 3, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

There's a certain irony that AT&T and Apple have dubbed iPhone 2.0, "iPhone 3G". That seems to underscore that AT&T is just now offering what Verizon and Sprint have had from some time -- a super-fast 3G network. I'm not so sure that AT&T's newly upgraded network is as good as Verizon's or Sprint's.

But kudo's to you Rob, for updating your review with additional thoughts.

Posted by: Walt | July 3, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

This review was crap. From the beginning Sprint has said this was a consumer device not a business device. Sprint called it an Iphone competitor. The average user doesn't purchase a Smartphone or PDA. This is only catching on due to the success of the Blackberry Pearl which was achieved by lower pricing. The same factor that's driving the adoption rate of the Instinct. If you're a business user stick to your blackberry or treo. This phone wasn't designed to be PDA. Just because it has more functionality than a regular phone doesn't make it a Smart Phone. After they launched the Instinct Sprint announced a software upgrade for multimedia phones enabling mobile email. It's about connectivity and the ability to get your information when you need it. With regard to the lack of wi-fi, why should Sprint install it on the Instinct? The only reason ATT did is because their Edge coverage is lacking compared to EVDO. Their 3G coverage is even less. Sprint covers more areas simple as that and coupled with the everything plans why would I need wi-fi that's a moot point. Compared side by side with both Iphones 1.0 and 2.0 they have similar feature sets. It's one thing to review a product but review it on it's merits alone. One review I caught on a tech site gave the Instinct a 72 out of 100 and the Iphone a 75 but this review judged the product for what it was not what some critic thought it should be.

Posted by: Tloso | July 4, 2008 1:50 AM | Report abuse

WiFi is way faster than EVDO. Power drain over WiFi is even less on the iPhone. Which uses b/g.

Posted by: slappy | July 6, 2008 3:34 AM | Report abuse

"@slappy: Congratulations on posting the 9,000th comment on this blog. (Or, if you count all comment spam that gets junked, the 25,000th comment.)

- RP"

Oh well thank you. Your blog has been head and shoulders above others. You don't just regurgitate a PR release from a company. You actually evaluate with clear truthful information. Keep up the great work. ;-)

Posted by: slappy | July 6, 2008 3:42 AM | Report abuse

I bought the instinct as a full upgrade for an existing sprint customer at best buy yesterday for 137.00 flat out the door.

Works great!

Posted by: bdanielkim | July 7, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Its not a blackberry. I wanted to change from and was hoping this was the answer. Altough it has some great fetrues, it only holds 800 contact, you cannot look at all of your contact while on the phone, you have to buy everything (games, music)the screen in daylight is hard to read, and the email system is simply BAD!! Keep trying. If RIM had any sense, they would make their new Bold a touchscreen and make us all happy. There a lot of business people who want a phone they can have a little fun with.

Posted by: Chris Wilson | July 8, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I love the phone ,pretty cool live search feature.. Even though the battery life is a lil bit shy of normal ,lets see what the I phone users use when their battery runs dead, The Instinct comes with another battery and a charger that you can charge up while using the phone.
This is the thing i have a complaint about,Im Mac user and i cant find a driver for my phone ,the phone came with a PC cd ..was this not thought about since they where at war with apple? Think of the consumer .
Another thing is the main screen should be different..im use to being able to set the background to what i like. This phone has a favorites page that pops up..it should be made where you can change that setting to a blank page with time, date,main menu. I agree its not a iphone killer, its a great product for a great price. I've always said if you make a good product and sale it so more could afford it it would sale. You're still gonna make a profit. the way the economy is right now, most folks are really not tryin to make corporations THAT MUCH MORE RICH, thanks for givivn back to the consumer .SPRINT TO THE FINISH LINE ..and work out the bugs

Posted by: Ke | July 11, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Instinct need major help in the Programs department.

Posted by: myspc/westcoastsd | August 20, 2008 11:19 PM | Report abuse

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