I just sat in on a webinar for the new Samsung Instinct phone from Sprint, presented by David Owens, director of product strategy and commercialization. We’re excited about the Instinct, but this webinar made me feel like I was watching a cheesy show on the Home Shopping Network. Anyway, here are some of the known highlights of the phone that’s due out in June, followed by a brief Q & A session, during which the dreaded iPhone comparison was addressed . . . kind of.
Does the Instinct sync with Microsoft Outlook? It does offer push e-mail, but it uses Outlook Web Access to get to the mail. It doesn’t sync with calendar, however. What’s the battery life? The kit includes a second battery, because Samsung wants people to feel like the phone is always on. Also included in the box are headphones, a carrying case, a stylus, and a 2GB microSD Card. The 1100-milliamp battery offers more than 5 hours of talk time. What kind of touchscreen does it have? While the iPhone has capacitive touch, the Instinct users receptive technology. When you press on something, it registers. The product uses haptic feedback, a faint vibration to indicate you’ve pushed a button. A QWERTY keypad is available in landscape mode, which offers predictive text. You can touch-scroll through pictures and thumbnail galleries. What is the price? Sprint has yet to announce a price for the device but will soon. Owens said the price should be comparable to similar products. External applications: Is it going to be an open platform? The platform is BREW with Java applications running on the device; “absolutely an open platform,” Owens said. He added that the SDK will be out soon if it’s not already. Sprint wants people to develop all kinds of apps for it. How will the Instinct compare with the iPhone? Sprint says that when comparing the Instinct with the current iPhone, there are advantages to both products. Unlike the first-gen iPhone, the Instinct has GPS, live-search capability, and Rev. A speed. Sprint is also particularly proud of the phone’s UI and customization capabilities. GPS: Is it cached or instant? The Instinct will cache your most recent locations, but it’s assisted GPS. It uses GPS and the Sprint network to get a fix. How does the Instinct fit in with Palm, Android, and Windows Mobile platforms? The Instinct was built around a Java/BREW environment. Sprint wanted to go this route because it wants to utilize its many existing applications and third-party developers. “In terms of being open to things like Android and Linux OS, we’ve been at the forefront of that; we’re embracing them. You’ll see products in Q4 ’08, Q1 ’09 in those environments, but this made sense for us now,” Owens said. How advantageous is the Rev. A speed? It’s not as fast as a cable modem, but Sprint claims users will see broadband speeds, with high-quality TV streams and most Web pages loading in 12 to 15 seconds. What are the video capabilities? How can you use it with Facebook and other social networking sites? The Instinct includes a 2-MP camera and a camcorder. Buttons allow you to upload photos and video directly to Facebook and MySpace. Is the keypad bigger than on iPhone? It’s different. The biggest difference being—if you’re actually writing an e-mail or an SMS on the iPhone, it’s in portrait mode. The iPhone has a 3.5-inch screen size and the Instinct’s screen is 3.1 inches. When users are e-mailing or SMSing on the Instinct, it’s in landscape mode, and the keys are bigger. Sprint claims that users will make fewer errors because of the size of the keys and the haptic feedback. How does the camera feature work in Web browsing? If you’re in Web browsing mode and want to move around in a page, the camera allows you to pan. If you hold down the camera key and move up or down, the page will move up or down. How does Sprint respond to criticisms or allegations that this is just another iPhone clone? How does that come into play with the development process? “I give Apple the credit for the great job they did,” Owens said. “I know you’ll see more touchscreen devices. If you want to improve the user interface, one of the best ways for carriers and manufacturers to do that is to use touchscreen. I think there are people that are going to say they like features of both. Everyone will use it differently, but there’s something in it for everybody.” How do you transfer music files from your computer to the Instinct? You can use media manager software to transfer through your PC, or you can drag-and drop over the USB cable. Is the music store different than on other Sprint phones? “Whether it was our TV or music partner, we challenged them to give somebody the best experience with a Rev. A device and a 3-inch screen,” Owens said. “It’s the same application but much easier to use because they were able to do a lot with the touchscreen’s size.” Can you lock the phone so it doesn’t make calls? There’s a power lock key. If you go to Settings > Display, you can set the backlight to never dim, or set it to dim in a set time. Once you go dim, you can’t press a key. Can you sync Outlook contacts with the device? With network address book you can sync from your Outlook contacts. If you have an existing device, you can move the contacts over in the store or Bluetooth them over. The Instinct uses the network address book to store everything on the network and you can sync it with Outlook. What can you add to the Favorites menu? How specific can you get with customization? Users can add applications but can’t put phone services because of the phone button already on the handset. Users can also add a music playlist, send an e-mail, store Web bookmarks, TV channels, a radio station, and more.