A stylus? Seriously… You’re kidding, right? Apparently, even in this enlightened age of iPhone, Android and capacitive touchscreens, the vaunted revamping of Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional still requires a stylus to effectively operate its essential touch-sensitive functions, and this, sadly, is the fatal flaw of the new Samsung Intrepid. The moral of the story here simply being as follows: Windows Mobile 6.5 may or may not be a fine mobile OS, but it certainly isn’t ready for primetime use in a touchscreen smartphone handset.
Features and Design
From what we can see, Windows Mobile 6.5 was not worth the wait or the effort. The operating system offers some superficial interface improvements such as finger scrolling and larger finger-tipped size menu options, but let’s be honest. Every other icon or option below the surface is too small to be touch controlled by anything but a pointy fingernail or the cursed stylus.
The candy bar-styled Intrepid is basically a wider version of Samsung’s Blackjack phones, which means typing is a lot easier on the humped tiled QWERTY keys. Inside, the Samsung Intrepid offers WiFi connectivity and the usual spate of Windows Mobile features including threaded messaging; office/productivity options; and multimedia extras such as Sprint TV, the Sprint Music Store, NFL Mobile Live and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile. You also get a 3.2MP camera, with everything viewable on a bright, colorful and somewhat square 2.6-inch LCD.
Ports & Connectors
On top of the Intrepid, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, while on the left is a now-standard micro USB jack. Unfortunately, the microSD card slot, which can handle up to a 32GB card, is located behind the battery cover, and the battery has to be removed to get the card out.
The Samsung Intrepid’s 2.55-inch screen is obviously smaller than that found on its touchscreen rivals, so little details in otherwise crisp and colorful videos are lost. Windows Media proves to be an adequate music player, but the on-screen transport controls are way too small for accurate finger touch control.
In terms of actual dialogue, vocal and speaker quality proves crisp and loud enough to enjoy. A small mono speaker on the handset’s rear pumps out a surprising amount of pristine sound for ambient music listening.
Cheerfully, you can access most of your frequently requested functions from the large font scrolling list on the home page. Scroll up and down for the app (e.g. email), then left/right for items within that app (e.g. mail account). These home page choices are nearly the only items large enough to comfortably and accurately tap with your finger.
As with all candy bar smartphones, dialing a phone number from the tiny QWERTY keyboard is awkward. However, the touch dial pad isn’t much of an improvement. As with other Windows Mobile icons, the touch number keys are small and tightly packed, with the three normally bottom row keys – *, 0 and # – arrayed inexplicably and awkwardly vertically to the right of the other nine keys. (In other words, the * is to the right of the 3, the 0 to the right of the 6 and the # to the right of the 9.)
Typing on the QWERTY is comfortable, however. The white backlight keys shine brightly on their black backgrounds, and Function keys are clearly delineated in an equally bright red. You’ll have to get used to the Shift key being the second key in from the bottom left instead of being the corner button as it is on most smartphone keypads, though. On the Intrepid, the bottom left corner key is the Speaker key.
Annoyingly though, only tapping the power-on key wakes up a napping Intrepid.
Internet and Online Connectivity
Sprint’s EV-DO Rev. A network delivers mobile-optimized Web pages on the Internet Explorer browser in less than five seconds, while non-optimized pages can take as long as 15 seconds to load, depending on graphical content.
Articles on popular sites such as CNN, The New York Times and ESPN are justified, but when you increase the size of the text, you’ll have to scroll sideways to read.
A touch icon on the bottom right activates four other touch controls for moving back a page, accessing Favorites, zooming and pulling up a curiously vestigial tiny on-screen touch QWERTY keypad that shows up as an on-screen option on nearly all Windows apps, another sign that this OS hasn’t been completely re-baked.
Digital Camera Features
The Samsung Intrepid snaps sharp and detailed outdoor still photos, but colors are faded and almost bleached on indoor shots. However, we did notice some odd circular light refraction in various shots when there was indirect lighting, both indoors and out. The screen stays highly visible even in bright sunshine, however.
Because the screen is almost square, the Intrepid doesn’t shoot true portrait or widescreen landscape shots. There is a vanity mirror, but no flash.
We got nearly 40 minutes more than the Intrepid’s rated six hours of talk time, which is way above average for touchscreen phones – a nice surprise.
Most of the Samsung Intrepid’s flaws can be laid at the feet of the disappointing OS. On the hardware side, the Intrepid is actually a well-designed if utterly boring handset. But what’s the point? A similarly-priced BlackBerry, Palm Pré or HTC Hero will prove far superior (and Microsoft Exchange supported) touchscreen choices compared to any candy bar phone running Windows Mobile, regardless of version. As such, the Intrepid makes a surprisingly tough sell.
- Wide QWERTY keyboard
- Long talk time
- Speedy Web browsing
- Above average 3.2MP camera
- Clear, loud conversations
- Runs Windows Mobile 6.5
- Requires stylus for many operations
- Poor touchscreen experience
- Odd on-screen dialpad layout
- Unnecessary pop-up-screen QWERTY option