Samsung Instinct HD First Impressions Review

by Reads (15,372)

The Samsung Instinct HD is a followup to the Instinct, a consumer-oriented phone which premiered last year on the Sprint network.

The main purpose here is to turn your mobile lifestyle into a high definition experience, with a five megapixel camera and camcorder and HD output, which allows you to experience your photos and videos in high definition on a compatible TV or monitor.

The Instinct HD is available now at Best Buy for $250 after a $100 rebate, with a new two-year service contract. It will launch at Sprint stores nationwide on October 11.


The Instinct HD looks like virtually every other mobile phone out there these days, featuring a black exterior with a few silver accents. It’s very thin and surprisingly light, but wide enough that it’s difficult for me to use one-handed.

Samsung Instinct HDThe front panel of the device is perfectly smooth; the Back, Home, and Call/Disconnect buttons aren’t actually buttons at all, but touch-sensitive areas located underneath the screen.

The top and sides of the phone are covered in ports and buttons: the left side has the volume control buttons and a Voice Command button; the top houses a standard headphone jack and the Power/Lock button. The right side of the phone includes the sync/charge port, video out, and the camera shutter button.

The display on the Instinct HD is gorgeous, simply one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The keyboard isn’t so great, at least when you’re starting cold. The landscape version is OK, but the portrait version inexplicably switches to ABCDE order instead of QWERTY order, which is completely unnecessary and a major pain.


I’ve only had this device for a day, but it has been long enough to notice that the Instinct HD doesn’t seem to be as snappy as I would expect, especially since it’s a relatively simple featurephone instead of a more complicated smartphone.

There are noticeable delays when launching applications, and it seems that almost every single one requires updating — and sometimes updates even when I choose “no” when asked about immediately downloading and installing an update. This could be a problem with the particular unit I was sent for review, but at first glance it seems to be a full retail package, not a stripped down loaner device.

Wireless/Call Quality
I’ve only made a couple of test calls, but the call quality results have been somewhat disappointing so far. One of my callers described the quality as “decent” when I was indoors in a quiet environment. The sound quality on both ends was somewhat below average, though we didn’t have any major problems communicating.

Samsung Instinct HDThe Instinct HD includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which will be tested fully before the completed review in a few days. One positive so far is that the phone identifies even unknown numbers by state. It’s a subtle point, but it really can help narrow things down for you when you don’t have the time (or inclination) to consult an area code directory.

Basic calendar and note applications are included, but I couldn’t find any sort of task list. Word processing/spreadsheet applications were not included on the loaner unit I’m currently evaluating.

The web browser is Opera Mobile 9.7, but I’m definitely not impressed. Perhaps I’m spoiled by Safari on my iPod Touch, but I found the browsing experience to be extremely frustrating. There is no way to pinch/enlarge the display; you tap once to focus on a particular section of the page, and that’s about it.

I found it almost impossible to jump from page to page, because no matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to touch the screen in the right place. It’s extremely frustrating, especially since I had no problem at all with the virtual keyboard, launching applications, etc. — that means it can’t be a simple screen calibration issue.

The Instinct HD includes an HD TV-out port, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet.

It comes with the standard Sprint entertainment options such as Sprint TV, Sprint Radio, NFL Mobile, and NASCAR Mobile. YouTube is included, but I was disappointed to see that it was just a browser shortcut to the mobile version of this site, not a full application. Demos of Monopoly and Uno are included, with good graphics and fun gameplay. Other games are also available for purchase.

Samsung Instinct HDI’ve only taken a few sample shots with the five megapixel camera so far, but my first impression is extremely positive. The photos are coming out very nice and sharp, and the 4x zoom is great.

Battery Life
I’m concerned about overall battery life at this point; after about ten minutes of web browsing and taking about 15 photos the battery had fallen to 50% charge. I’m hopeful that the meter is just a bit off at this point, or that it quickly goes down halfway but seems to stay “stuck” there forever before actually dying. Naturally, I will continue to monitor the battery life while I’m using the review unit.


Right now I’m not really feeling the love for the Instinct HD. It seems fairly responsive and offers fabulous graphics and good sound, but the battery life, web browsing issues, and other UI quirks make it impossible to fall in love with this device at first sight.

Only time and more extensive testing will determine whether the Sprint Instinct HD should be on your short list when it launches on October 11.




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