The Samsung Intercept runs Google’s Android OS 2.1 (also known as Éclair). Unlike many devices from this company, it does not have Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, but does have a number of widgets — and three homescreens to customize the experience.
The Samsung Intercept offers access to Sprint’s 3G network (EV-DO Rev. 0) and includes Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth, and a GPS receiver.
Call quality was in the excellent to decent range, with only a few moments during storms where things actually got patchy — which is normal for this area. Likewise, EV-DO is a great addition to have when doing mapping/web and *not* on a call. It is a bit behind the times to have a mobile that doesn’t do voice and data at the same time, but in all cases during reviewing that was what I’ve gotten.
The Intercept’s address book is a similar affair to many other Android devices, allowing one to add accounts from places such as Google, Twitter, and MySpace — in addition to the built-in contacts you might have. What is neat here is that it’s a simple process to merge account profiles across different services. So if you have the same person on Twitter as you have in Google, you just merge their contacts and now you have both sets of data, but just one contact.
Likewise, the phone application is simple, showing a black-on-white contrast and four easy access icons to the keypad, call log, favorites, and contacts. I had a friend who has trouble with seeing and using the keypad of various mobile devices, and he remarked that this was definitely an improvement due to the text size, contrast, and vibration feedback.
The sliding keyboard is useful when looking through a big address book — just type a letter to pare down the contacts list. Once an item is selected, you can choose to look at the history, social networking activities, and associated media associated with that contact.
Buit the point of a smartphone such as the Samsung Intercept to go beyond just calling and texting, and engage in some of those activities which you’d normally reserve for a larger computer, or specific-purpose device such as a GPS or music player.
Some of the default applications include a calendar, address book, threaded text messaging application, visual voicemail, and several other apps and widgets. There’s a lot included, and you can easily get by without installing any application. Then again, there is the Android Market that’s pretty well stocked for anything you might feel is missing.
The web browser is the stock Android browser, based on the Webkit rendering engine. Whether using Wi-Fi or EV-DO, the Intercept was solid in most page loads. If you needed to do anything on a page, or within settings, the sometimes-responsive menu button got in the way of the experience. Same with the Back and Home buttons, for some reason, that are at the bottom of the screen just seemed not as calibrated as the rest.
In the music department, the Intercept is a great workout assistant. I loaded up the included 2 GB microSDHC card with a few albums and in only a minute of scanning the card was I listening to the tunes. The single mono speaker seems to be tuned towards the high ranges in respect to tone, but stayed clear throughout. I didn’t see a means of downloading music from Amazon, but that application was available via the Android Market for previewing and purchasing music right to the device.
Google Maps is included. As usual, this app loads quickly, the GPS grabs onto the signal fast, and you are able to use Navigation, Places, Latitude, and the different Layers. It’s pretty decent, and for most users is a nice introduction into relevant social networking. The included voice directions for Navigation are not as computer sounding as the voice is on Nokia’s Ovi Maps. The small screen size seems to be a limitation for some routes, but you are at least rerouted quickly if you go past a turn.
The Intercept’s camera has its own share of button gremlins. When using it, I had to make sure to press and hold the camera button for a number of seconds (3-5) as it never seemed that the shutter would move fast enough to capture images.
As with many Samsung models, this one does stills in natural light well, but has some issue with artificial light sources or when zoomed in past about 50%. There’s no LED light on this camera, so anything with low or no light is pretty much not out of the question.
Images can be saved to the internal memory (about 100 MB free), to the memory card (supports up to 16 GB microSDHC), or sent to a photo-sharing service such as Pisca, Facebook, MMS, or email.
The only issue that I’ve seen is that the initial loading of gallery thumbnails seems to be a bit slower than other mobile devices.
With all of these features, it could be expected that the Samsung Intercept would be a lot like other smartphones in terms of battery life, but I’d say that you’d only be half right.
If you’re not using it like a smartphone master, then expect to stretch 2 days with it — without too many calls or continual data sessions over Wi-Fi. I am very impressed, constantly. It is a good thing to have a mobile device that you just pick up and use without worrying about battery life.
On the other hand, iif used like a high-end smartphone, the Intercept will be dead before the end of the waking day.