- Fairly large touchscreen display
- Attractive price
- Good battery life
- Uninspired design
- Performance isn't spectacular
- Below average keyboard
The Samsung Intrepid is one of the first Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphones. It has all of the typical features folks have come to expect, such as Wi-Fi b/g and Bluetooth wireless networking, plus a QWERTY keyboard and a 3.2 megapixel camera.
It is currently available from Sprint for $150 (after $200 rebate) with a new two-year service contract, or for $450 without a contract.
DESIGN & BUILD
The Samsung Intrepid doesn’t have a lot going for it in the style department. It isn’t ugly by any means, but it doesn’t really stand out in any way from the sea of very similar-looking smartphones.
The device is almost exactly the same width and length of my iPod Touch, though much thicker. It’s a little big to be comfortable in my small hands, but not bad. The corners are rounded so it isn’t painful to hold. The Intrepid is nice and light and shouldn’t weigh down your pockets too much. The materials are mainly black plastic with a more reflective surface on the front panel of the phone plus a couple of chrome buttons.
The front of this smartphone is dominated by the large touchscreen display; underneath you’ll find the navigation buttons and the keyboard. The navigation keys are very close to each other and fairly hard to use — especially the up and down buttons on the five way navigator in the middle. They are very small compared to the large silver center button (which I mistook for some sort of scrolling button at first) and hard to hit.
The overly large Windows key and the OK button are flush mounted and not really distinguishable by feel alone. That’s a shame, because you’ll be using that Windows key a lot to launch your applications. The soft menu keys on the left and right side suffer the same problem as the navigator keys. In my opinion it would have been better to make the keys just slightly smaller and of varying heights so that you can more easily use the phone one-handed without having to look at your thumbs to make sure you’re pressing the intended key. The device does have a touchscreen so it can be argued that the buttons are not as important here, but there are still times when it’s faster to use the buttons instead of pulling out a stylus or using your fingertip.
The rest of the controls and ports are on the sides of the device. The left houses the volume up/down rocker and the USB charge/sync port; the top has a standard size headphone jack. The right side has the power/lock button, the camera button, and the stylus silo. The camera, along with a self-portrait mirror, are on the back of the phone.
I should also mention that the back of the Intrepid is not textured at all, so it’s very slick. It slid right out of my hand more than once before I learned to keep a very tight grip on it. In particular the battery cover is difficult to remove because it’s hard to get the right grip on the phone and slide it off. You probably won’t be removing it too often, though the SIM card slot and the microSD slot are under that cover. While neither of those slots is actually under the battery, the battery must be removed in order to have enough clearance to slide in a card.
The 2.5-inch screen is one of the more impressive features of the Samsung Intrepid. It runs at a 320 by 240 resolution but is very sharp and clear. It’s a touchscreen as well, and I found it to be quite responsive to my fingertips. That’s a very good thing, because it took me quite a while to figure out how to get the stylus out of the phone. (You pull it out of the bottom of the device; it sits horizontally just below the keyboard with the tip on the right side.) Video from YouTube/Sprint TV is somewhat grainy, but it’s obvious from testing other applications and games that the relatively poor video performance is more likely due to Sprint network issues in my area than to any failing of the screen itself.
The lower half of the Intrepid is dominated by a physical QWERTY keyboard. It works well enough, but it won’t be winning any awards in the near future — the keys are very close together with no real definition, so you will likely have to look at your thumbs as you’re entering text or you run the risk of sending the wrong message. The keys are so small, in fact, that even dialing the phone is somewhat difficult, and it’s much easier to just scroll through your contacts if you don’t have too many.
I appreciate the fact that the text on the keys is easy to read, thanks to the large, clear font chosen for the printing. And the punctuation marks, though a little more difficult to see since they’re in red, are easy enough to pick out when necessary. But I would rather have had slightly smaller keys with a bit more definition between the rows and columns, because even after a week using the Intrepid I really haven’t been able to build up any sort of speed while using the keyboard. That’s fine for someone like me who is more likely to call than to text, but it could certainly be a deal breaker for folks who intend to use the keyboard a great deal.