Samsung Intrepid

Samsung Intrepid

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.


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.


Windows Mobile 6.5 has already been covered in detail on this site (read the review), so I will be discussing the highlights of my experience using the new version of this operating system, not the specifics.

One thing I noticed right away is the updated menu system. It's pretty, but it seems to take a lot longer to find and launch my apps now -- especially since the phone comes preloaded with so many extra "bloatware" applications. I didn't see the hourglass during my trial, so the phone was responsive enough to my needs, but it certainly wasn't the streamlined new experience that I was hoping to see.

Wireless/Call Quality
Results for this topic were somewhat mixed. One of my test callers said that the voice quality was fairly lousy and reported that background noise interfered with our conversation when I was walking on a sidewalk next to a very busy street. Other test callers said that I came through too soft on their end when I was placing calls in an extremely quiet environment: my office.

In addition to support for Sprint's CDMA network in the U.S., this Samsung model is able to connect to GSM networks in other regions of the world, allowing you to make calls when traveling internationally.

The Intrepid comes with Microsoft Office Mobile, which includes Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, PowerPoint Mobile, and OneNote. Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Notes help to keep all of your personal information organized. You'll also find Adobe Reader LE, Audio Notes, Remote Desktop Mobile, an RSS reader, and a Tip Calculator. SmartReader, a personal favorite from an earlier review, also makes an appearance -- in effect it turns the Intrepid's camera into a mobile scanner capable of grabbing information from business cards and documents. The Microsoft Money widget can help you keep track of your favorite stocks, and MSN Weather will keep you prepared for anything, no matter the forecast.

TellMe is a surprisingly robust voice recognition application that deserves a special mention. I've seen apps like this before that promised the moon but delivered nothing, but TellMe actually works. Just hit a dedicated key on the keyboard and talk -- you can say a particular word like "Starbucks" and the app will direct you to the closest location. Throw out a search term and the web browser will open up, enter the search term, and show the results. Need to call one of your friends? I tried it out with a good buddy of mine named Brad. When I said "call Brad" the app asked if I wanted to call his work number or his mobile number -- fairly slick. Next I said "call Brad work" and that's exactly what happened -- no muss, no fuss. I'm having a lot of fun with TellMe and it really can help you be more productive. Instead of you trying to fight your phone (launch the Contacts app, scroll until you find the right one, pick the number to call, etc.), TellMe does all the work for you -- which is exactly the way it should be.

Like all Windows Mobile devices, the Intrepid uses a mobile version of Windows Media Player to handle audio and video.

Sprint TV, NFL Mobile, and NASCAR Mobile are also included, since they're part of the standard Sprint entertainment package. Sprint TV didn't perform very well, I suspect due to relatively low network strength in my area. When I got a good signal the video looked really good, but it seemed to spend more time buffering than playing. Windows Media Player performed better, of course, since it was handling videos stored on the device. Sound quality with the external speaker is fairly low, and not very loud either -- you'll definitely want to use headphones if you want a decent experience.

Samsung Intrepid for SprintThe web browsing experience was somewhat frustrating for me; that was mainly due to my unfamiliarity with the latest version of Windows Mobile but also my extensive use of Safari on my iPod Touch. Zooming in on a particular part of a web page took several taps plus some extra dexterity on the magnifying glass slider control; the default view is zoomed so far out (even with the text size set to "largest") that almost any page is completely unusable until you zoom in.

The 3.2 megapixel camera does a very good job, and readers familiar with my reviews will know that I demand a lot from my camera -- even if it is just a relatively small part of a smartphone. Picture quality is crisp, colors are true, and I didn't encounter any of those nasty exposure problems that seem to plague mobile phone cameras. The camera on this device certainly won't replace a dedicated digicam, but the photos you can capture with it are good enough for those unexpected moments you want to save for posterity.

Battery Life
Battery life is a bright spot for the Intrepid; even with heavy use I could barely get the battery meter to budge. I don't know if that's due to the ample 1480 mAh battery or some serious hardware/software optimization, but I am definitely impressed with how the Intrepid sips the juice instead of guzzling it.


The Samsung Intrepid fits into the "middle of the road" category of devices. It's not bad, but it's not great -- and though it's one of the first new devices with Windows Mobile 6.5, it really doesn't offer anything that sets it apart from the rest of the mobile pack.

Samsung Intrepid for VerizonWith its "me too" design and less than blazing performance, there isn't a great deal to recommend it beyond the relatively attractive price, the good camera and the promising performance of TellMe. It's worth a closer look if you already have your heart set on a Windows Mobile 6.5 device, but it probably won't end up at the top of your list.


* Large touchscreen display
* Attractive price
* Good battery life
* Good camera
* TellMe works brilliantly


* Uninspired design that can be hard to grip/hold
* Performance isn't spectacular
* Below average keyboard