The Samsung Intrepid made its debut at CTIA Fall 2009 as Sprint’s first Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphone. Admittedly, we weren’t particularly impressed by the handset’s drab and slightly plasticky design when we saw it at the show but now that we’ve had some time to get to know the device, we can appreciate it for being a solid messaging smartphone.
Replacing the Samsung Ace, the Intrepid offers a touch screen, a larger QWERTY keyboard, a better camera, and obviously, Windows Mobile 6.5. You also get world roaming capabilities as well as Microsoft’s Tellme voice-activated service. It certainly bests the HTC Snap in features. Also, while the packaging isn’t quite as sexy as the RIM BlackBerry Tour 9630, the Intrepid delivers as a phone and messaging device, making it a decent alternative to the Tour, especially if you want a touch screen. The Samsung Intrepid is available now for $149.99 with a two-year contract.
The design of the Samsung Intrepid is familiar. It’s more utilitarian than flashy, and it doesn’t stray far from the company’s other QWERTY devices, such as the Samsung Ace or the Samsung Jack, and it sports a boxy shape yet relatively thin profile. At 4.6 inches tall by 2.59 inches wide by 0.51 inch thick, it is slightly wider than previous models to make it a tighter fit in a pants pocket but it feels comfortable to hold while typing messages.
The wider size also brings some benefits. First, the Intrepid features a slightly larger screen than the BlackBerry Tour and HTC Snap, measuring 2.5 inches diagonally. With a QVGA resolution (320×240 pixels), it’s not quite as sharp as the Tour’s display; the pixels are a bit more visible and the edges of text and images aren’t quite as smooth. However, the Intrepid does have the advantage of including a touch screen, so you can just as easily tap the screen to launch an app, scroll through lists, and perform other tasks.
The touch screen also works well with the new interface enhancements of Windows Mobile 6.5. This includes the Zune-like Today screen, new Start menu, and Lock screen notification system. The touch screen is resistive so it requires a bit more pressure and precision than a capacitive screen, but we found the display to be responsive and there is an included stylus. In addition, there are navigation controls below the display, including two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, a Start menu shortcut, an OK button, and a D-pad, for easy one-handed operation. That said, we missed having a back button for easily returning to the previous screen.
The Intrepid’s full QWERTY keyboard is quite good. The keys are a decent size for thumbs big and small and have non-slippery texture. They do feel slightly plasticky and cheap, but the typing experience was mostly positive. The spacious layout helped minimize mispresses, and the buttons provided a nice tactile feedback without being too clicky or too stiff. The keyboard also includes several shortcuts to apps on the bottom row and the number buttons are highlighted in red.
Rounding out the design is a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack on top of the device, a volume rocker, and a Micro-USB/power connector on the left side, and a power button, a camera activation/capture key, and stylus on the right. The camera, along with flash and self-portrait mirror, is located on the back, while the microSD and SIM card slot are behind the battery door.
Sprint packages the Samsung Intrepid with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a SIM card, a stereo headset, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
The Samsung Intrepid brings another world phone to Sprint’s lineup, which is always nice to see. As a dual-mode phone, the handset supports both CDMA and GSM technology, so domestically, Intrepid will use Sprint’s CDMA network as usual, but will then automatically detect and switch to the international GSM bands when traveling overseas where you can make calls and receive data. The smartphone also supports the international 2,100MHz UMTS band so you’ll be able to get 3G data connections overseas.