Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Give Up--Sprint's Samsung Instinct Sucks

I've really tried hard these past three days to be patient and learn to love my new Samsung Instinct. What's not to love, right? The phone supposedly kicks the iPhone's ass--faster download times, voice to action, more memory for the price, etc. etc. According to Sprint's own ads, of course.

  • This video tells a different story--a more accurate story:

    There's also another video on YouTube that points out ways that the Instinct sucks.

    Now don't get me wrong--I couldn't care less that the Samsung is an iPhone rip-off; that's why I bought it. Frankly, the fact that it's NOT an exact replica of the iPhone is the main reason I don't like it. I wanted an iPhone but Sprint has me by the balls to the tune of three phone lines for another year, so unless I wanted to pay $600 in termination fees, switching to AT&T so I could get the iPhone wasn't an option.

    So I bought into the Samsung hype and couldn't wait to get my new Instinct.

    Kicking off my dissatisfaction with the phone was the horrific activation process. I had purchased the phone itself online, which was a breeze, and it arrived 3 days later (not "free overnight delivery" but free). Reason number one million why I love the Internet. Naturally I plan to activate the phone online, which I attempt to do about 1 second after removing it from the box. After maybe 3 or 4 tries it locks me out of the system and says I have to call to activate it. Great. An hour later--at least 45 minutes of which was spent on hold--my Instinct was finally activated.

    Of course the first thing I did was check out the web browser. To put it simply: it sucks. Worse than sucks. Mobile pages are ok--e.g. Facebook mobile, but otherwise it's laughable how bad it is. The screen seems very tiny compared to the iPhone's screen and you basically have the option of viewing the entire page in a version so small it is virtually undetectable to the human eye or so large that it's like looking at the page under a microscope--you can see basically about 3 pixels at a time. I tried working around it by first making the page super tiny to get an idea of where I should be aiming, then enlarging it and trying to map my way over to the part of the page I'm trying to view. At least on my Treo you get the stripped down version of pages--CSS's don't work, etc--but you can get the information you need, however unprettily. Not with the Instinct, though-- even when you set it to view the mobile version of the web--you still get huge, crazy, un-navigatable pages.

    Half the time, pages won't load--you either get an error message or the page times out. And when it does load, good luck trying to be able to populate any field you might be trying to fill out. If you can get your fingernail to tap the appropriate field, half the time you can't activate the keyboard. And when I say fingernail, I mean EDGE of your fingernail--because if you're viewing the page in anything other than 2x magnification, the fields are approximately the size of, say, the thickness of a quarter. If you're not coordinated enough or don't have enough fingernail purchase, your only option is the 2x magnification, in which case you can barely bumble your way to finding the field in the first place.

    I digress--the last nail in the Instinct's coffin for me may be Twitter. How much simpler can a page get than Twitter mobile? A string of messages, right? Yes, but a string of messages meant to appear in real time and an update field that's meant to be interactive--e.g. you can post updates. Trying to use Twitter on the Instinct is like trying to grab a slippery little fish with fingers covered in Vaseline--next to impossible. You go to and save it as a favorite. You log in and try to post. Nine times out of 10 your updates don't go through--you get an error of one sort or another. Then you exit the browser and, the next time you use it, you click on the favorite tab and it takes you not to Twitter mobile but the regular twitter--or a tiny slice of the regular sized page. Even though you saved the favorite as "" it comes up as " x." Yes, it comes up as a page from an hour or 14 hours ago. You refresh your screen in an attempt to view the most recent post--forget it. I have spent hours this weekend trying to get past this glitch and can't. Every time I think I've gotten it to work, I close out and go back in and--shocker--it doesn't work again.

    Then the other stuff:

    • When you try to close out of certain applications the phone often freezes up for a good 20 seconds or more

    • The GPS, while cool, can be crazily inaccurate

    • You can't forward your calls to another phone

    • You can't make it so you can be alerted of new messages with a simple beep or no sound at all--you have to choose a ring

    • The calendar is the biggest cluster F of a calendar I've ever seen--trying to select a time is like spinning the Wheel of Fortune and keeping your fingers crossed that it will land on the right number. I'm not exaggerating at all--the whole touch screen thing is a nightmare on the Instinct.

    I'll stop there because I'm just pissing myself off worse thinking about the whole thing. My advice: if you want an iPhone, pay the early termination fee and switch to AT&T.

    Adding even more fuel to my fire is the fact that I now come to find out the calendar feature doesn't work correctly. Neither the reminder nor the recurring events features work. I Googled "Instinct calendar doesn't work" and apparently Sprint is aware that the calendar function doesn't work--and has known for a while--yet fails to mention it when you buy the phone. I especially like this Sprint representative's comment in response to a string of comments about how abysmal the calendar is:
    "You have a 'media phone' in the Instinct. If you require full calendaring, OWA sync, etc. you need to buy either a Palm (I like the Centro), or a WM device, or the everpresent and highly functional Blackberry. "

    Excuse me but--what? "Media phone"? Not, after all, a "smartphone" or PDA? Sure is new to me--and to PC World and the other 479,000 Google search result pages for "Samsung Instinct pda."
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