Hands-on with the Sprint Samsung Intrepid Windows Phone

A few new devices launched with the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system roll out on October 6th. One QWERTY messaging-focused device that launched on Sprint is the Samsung Intrepid. The Intrepid is the successor to the Samsung Ace and is a touchscreen device in a forward facing QWERTY form factor, similar to a BlackBerry device. Most all of the specs of the Samsung Intrepid are quite good, but the low resolution 320x240 QVGA kills the whole experience for me since every device I now have has much higher resolution and I can never go back to something with this low of resolution. The Samsung Intrepid is priced on Sprint at $150 so it is quite reasonable for a fully functional Windows Phone.

A few new devices launched with the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system roll out on October 6th. One QWERTY messaging-focused device that launched on Sprint is the Samsung Intrepid. The Intrepid is the successor to the Samsung Ace and is a touchscreen device in a forward facing QWERTY form factor, similar to a BlackBerry device. Most all of the specs of the Samsung Intrepid are quite good, but the low resolution 320x240 QVGA kills the whole experience for me since every device I now have has much higher resolution and I can never go back to something with this low of resolution. The Samsung Intrepid is priced on Sprint at $150 so it is quite reasonable for a fully functional Windows Phone. Check out my image gallery for a few photos of the device.


Image Gallery:A walk around the Samsung Intrepid Windows Phone.
Image Gallery: Samsung Intrepid retail box width=
Image Gallery: Intrepid QWERTY keyboard

Inside the fairly standard Sprint box you will find the Samsung Intrepid with stylus and battery, A/C phone charger, SIM card, 3.5mm headset jack, USB sync cable, and several helpful guides. The SIM card inclusion indicates the Samsung Intrepid is truly a world phone that supports US CDMA networks and worldwide GSM networks, which may be important for the business traveler.

As I pulled the Intrepid out of the box and held it, I found it to have an attractive design and solid feel in my hand. It is very similar to a BlackBerry with the front facing QWERTY and width the supports a full keyboard. There was nothing stunning that made the device stand out from the crowd, but that isn't always needed for an enterprise user looking for a solid phone to get the job done.

Specifications

: The Samsung Intrepid (SPH-i350) has the following specifications:
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system
  • Qualcomm MSM 7600 528MHz processor
  • 512MB ROM/256MB RAM
  • 2.5 inch 320x240 QVGA touchscreen display
  • Quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and Dual-band CDMA (800/1900 MHz)
  • Integrated GPS receiver
  • Integrated Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support
  • Integrated 802.11 b/g radio
  • 3.2 megapixel camera with auto focus
  • 1480 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery
  • microSD card slot with support for SDHC capacities
  • Dimensions: 4.88 x 2.44 x 0.53 inches, 3.2 ounces

Walk around the hardware

The Samsung Intrepid is black and silver with a few brushed silver highlights on the front. The black plastic has a matte finish, but is not the soft touch material found on many other current generation smartphones. On the front of the device you will see the 2.5 inch QVGA display and honestly this was the most disappointing feature for me since I have spent so much time with high resolution displays over the last year. Fonts look a bit fuzzy and the display is not crisp enough for me to ever want to buy such a device. Below the display you will find right and left soft key buttons at the extreme edges of the device. A very large, flush directional pad is centered between two brushed silver buttons, one for Start and one for OK. There are send and end buttons outside of these two buttons and below the two soft keys. In the center of the directional pad is a brushed silver action button that I thought was some kind of optical controller because of the long horizontal shape. It turns out it is just an action button that presses in, yet it does not really move up and down. I would like to have seen it work to scroll up and down instead of functioning just as an action button.

Below the hardware buttons is the QWERTY keyboard that takes up about a third of the front. The keyboard has a matte finish that helps keep you from sliding off the keys and gives a good tactile feel to the keyboard. Each button is pretty well spaced and has good tactile feel to it. There are buttons available for Tellme, messaging, file explorer, and wireless manager.

On the left side you will find the microUSB port and the volume switch. The right side contains the power button, reset hold, camera button, and stylus silo. I have never seen a stylus mounted on the side running across the device from right to left. It is a telescoping metal and plastic stylus that has good length and feel to it, but a stylus just doesn't feel right on such a QWERTY focused device.

The only thing on the bottom is the microphone opening. A 3.5mm headset jack and lanyard opening are present on the top of the device.

A 3.2 megapixel camera, self-portrait mirror, and phone speaker are placed on the upper back of the Samsung Intrepid. Most of the back is taken up by the battery cover where you will find both the battery and SIM card under the cover. A microSD card slot is adjacent to the SIM card slot and the battery must be removed for the microSD card to be placed in or taken out of the device.

Walk around the software

The applications included are fairly standard for Windows Mobile 6.5, but that actually means there is quite a bit packed into just the operating system. You will also find several Sprint services on board, including Sprint TV, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, NFL Mobile Live, and Sprint Navigation. I am a fan of these services, especially given the fact that most all of the functionality is included with the monthly EVERYTHING data plan fees.

Sprint includes a Smart Reader application that can be used to take a photo of and store information from a business card, document, or image.

One service that I thought was going to be included with Windows Mobile 6.5 was Tellme and as you browse through the Samsung Intrepid you will find that Tellme is actually included. Tellme is an app that lets you perform dialing with your voice and also use voice-to-text technology to send messages. You can also get business listings, traffic, maps, driving directions, movies, weather instantly with the touch of a button and your voice.

Wrap up

The Samsung Intrepid is a solid Windows Phone and if it had a higher resolution display I would be much more likely to recommend it to buyers. The fonts are way too fuzzy and the display appears a year or two behind the times. There are some great services on the device and the specs are quite good. Windows Mobile 6.5 needs some work as I previously mentioned, but there is a firmware update utility on the Intrepid so we will hopefully see some improvements over time.

The Samsung Intrepid is solid and has no creaking or play in it. The keyboard has good tactile feedback and works quite well for fast text entry. The directional pad is a bit different, but works fine for one handed navigation and I only found the occasion to use the stylus or my fingernail when creating new appointments, modifying settings, and performing other functions in Windows Mobile that have yet to be optimized for touch.

The Samsung Intrepid is priced pretty low for a Windows Phone and if you are a business person looking for a world phone with full Exchange support you might want to swing by a Sprint store and check one out.

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