I’ve had the Instinct HD for a few weeks now, and have found that it doesn’t seem to be as snappy as I would expect, especially since it’s a relatively simple featurephone instead of a complicated smartphone. It takes forever to start up when the device has been turned off. 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 it does seem to be a full retail package, not a stripped down loaner device.
The user interface isn’t very friendly either. When you first turn on or wake the device, you are presented with a speed dial screen, which is great if your usage is strictly phone-centric. Tabs at the bottom of the screen allow you to cycle through your contacts, recent calls, visual voice mail messages, and a standard phone dial pad. If you want to use an application, you must first press the home button and then cycle through Main, Fun, My Stuff, and Web to find what you want.
There is a favorites screen that allows you to gather your most frequently used applications in one place, which is nice. But there really isn’t much you can do in the way of personalization or reorganization beyond the simple ability to change your ringtone.
After making several test calls I have found the call quality results to be somewhat disappointing. One of my callers described the quality as just “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.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth both work perfectly, so you won’t have any issues there.
One other positive is that the phone identifies even unknown numbers by state,whether you’re placing or receiving a call. 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, especially if you actively screen your calls.
Basic calendar and note applications are included, but there is no task list. Word processing/spreadsheet applications were not included on the loaner unit I’m currently evaluating. Obviously this isn’t the sort of phone you would choose if you have heavy personal information organization needs, but I was a bit surprised by how little the Instinct HD offers in this area.
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; the best you can do is tap once to focus on one section of the page. That makes it slightly bigger, but text is still very difficult to read.
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 to activate the hyperlink. 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 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, not a full application. Demos of Monopoly and Uno are included, with good graphics and fun gameplay. Other games are also available for purchase.
The five megapixel camera and camcorder doesn’t disappoint. Photos look great, with sharp details and clear colors, and the 4x zoom works perfectly when you’re trying to get closer to the action. Video quality is also quite exceptional, and when you start the camcorder function you can choose between HD, VGA, and QVGA resolution depending on your needs. Each of the options is presented with suggested uses (YouTube, Sprint Picture Mail, etc.) as well as sample file sizes for one minute of video.
The main attraction for the Instinct HD is the ability to connect the phone to an HDTV so that you can share with your friends. Unfortunately you must purchase a mini-USB to HDMI cable to enable this functionality, and it’s only compatible with videos, not still photos. It took quite a lot of troubleshooting to make it work for me; I tested the Instinct HD with a 720P Toshiba HDTV and found that the only way it would work was to power off the phone, make the cable connection, and then turn the phone back on.
Video playback is controlled from the phone, but I was disappointed with the picture quality — videos look so much better on the phone when compared to the grainy, dark picture on the TV. I don’t think the TV is the problem either, because it produces great results from cable, a video game console, etc. Considering how nice the screen is on the Instinct HD, I’d rather share videos with my friends on the phone instead of going through the hassle and expense of connecting the phone to a TV for a lower quality picture. It seems that the video output is a great idea that just isn’t executed very well, which is a real shame.
I’m concerned about overall battery life: my experience during the review period is that it is relatively short for the Instinct HD as compared to other similar devices. You will definitely need to charge the device a minimum of every 2-3 days to prevent yourself from being caught with a dead battery.