Reviewed July 28, 2010 by Lisa Gade, Editor
When we reviewed the Samsung Moment on Sprint in November 2009, there weren't a lot of Android handsets on the market. Things have certainly changed in a little more than a half year, and Samsung's replacement, the Intercept, has a lot of competition. The Intercept is a starter Android smartphone, and though its features pale in comparison to the HTC EVO 4G and upcoming Samsung Epic 4G (a Galaxy S phone with slider keyboard), it costs half the price. Not everyone wants to jump into a large and expensive smartphone, and the kinda cute Intercept targets those who want to start with something affordable and pocketable.
The Samsung Intercept is available in two colors: satin pink and gray steel. It has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and at 4.4 x 2.2 x 0.6 inches and 4.9 ounces, it's easy to hold and stow. The phone has a capacitive multi-touch 3", 240 x 400 pixel display that's nowhere near as nice as the AMOLED, 320 x 480 resolution Moment's display. That's a shame since the display is one of the most important elements of a touch screen phone, and the Intercept is a downgrade in that respect. The good news is that it runs Android OS 2.1 vs. the ancient 1.5 that the Moment shipped with. The newer OS adds all manner of useful features and is speedier. Also good is that the Intercept runs mostly vanilla Android vs. the over-the-top TouchWiz enhanced software on the Moment.
The phone is solidly made and it feels good in the hand. The touch-sensitive buttons on the front work well, and there are good old fashioned mechanical call send and end buttons (we like). The volume rocker and microSD card slot are on the left, and the 3.5mm stereo jack is on the right as is the camera button. The USB charging port is up top, like the Galaxy S phones, and that's not ideal if you need to use the phone while it's charging (whip out that wired or Bluetooth headset).
Though it runs on an 800MHz Samsung CPU, the Intercept isn't the fastest Android on the block. Granted, the high end superphone models run on various 1GHz CPUs, but the Intercept is no faster and sometimes slower than the 600MHz MyTouch 3G Slide and Motorola Backflip. We noted the same with the Moment and chalked it up to all that TouchWiz eye candy. But the Intercept isn't running that software, so we're not sure why it sometimes pauses and balks. In part, the not terribly responsive touch screen makes the phone seem slower since it doesn't always register a light touch. The display also looks a bit grainy and the unusual (for an Android phone) resolution means you see a bit less on screen. Some apps also don't run at 240 x 400; for example, the New York Times app crashes at launch. Standard Android resolution is 320 x 480 and high end phones run at 800 x 480.
The keyboard is large but the keys are flat with little travel. They have good backlighting and are clearly masked but the 4 row layout with a dedicated number row and the space bar inserted between the v and b keys isn't our favorite. There are arrow keys on the right and the Fn button is at the top left beside the number row. We like that you can control its backlight timeout separately from the display timeout.
Here's our 9 minute video review of the Samsung Intercept:
Calling, Data and Battery Life
The Intercept has good call quality. Our callers could tell we were using a cell phone, but they said we sounded clear with adequate volume. Background noise was minimal on both ends, and call volume is average. The Samsung has 3G EV-DO Rev. 0 for data rather than the faster Rev. A. When web browsing and downloading emails and apps from the Android Market, data speeds are adequate and the phone didn't delay for buffering excessively when streaming Sprint TV. If you're looking for a phone to use as a modem for tethering though, Rev. 0 is decidedly slower than Rev. A.
Battery life is good for a smartphone with an 800MHz CPU. Our review unit had no trouble making it through the day with Google syncing, MS Exchange mail and social networks pulling updates in the background. Sprint TV usually drains the battery quickly, but the Intercept managed 30 minutes of streaming with only an 8% charge drop. Short navigation trips using the included Google Maps were likewise relatively easy on the battery, though you'll want a car charger if you spend a good part of each day navigating.
Performance and Benchmarks
As we mentioned, despite the Intercept's 800MHz, ARM6 family CPU, the smartphone is no speed demon. Performance is uneven: sometimes it's quite fast and at other times it bogs down and we had to wait a second or two for the phone to complete simple actions. There aren't a plethora of 3D games on the Android Market, but don't expect the Intercept to excel since it handles 3D OpenGL rendering in software rather than hardware.
We benchmarked several Android smartphones using Benchmark by Softweg (available on the Android Market). The EVO 4G and Droid X are 1GHz phones in the top tier, so we didn't expect the Intercept to match their numbers, though it does decently on 2D graphics. We couldn't run 3D benchmarks on the Intercept since it lacks hardware 3D acceleration.
The Samsung Intercept offers a newer version of the Android OS and loses the excessive version of TouchWiz found on the Samsung Moment. Beyond that, the Intercept isn't an upgrade at all. In fact, the Moment has a better display and an equal camera. The Intercept's raison d'etre is to entice budget conscious buyers and feature phone owners to move up to Android. And it is indeed a solid entry/ mid-level smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard and the power of Android 2.1. Sprint's myriad services from Sprint TV to NASCAR Sprint Cup mobile to Visual Voice Mail are on board, though there's no Sprint Navigation (but the free Google Maps is here). Our complaints? That mediocre display and phone speed.
Pro: Android OS 2.1 with all the Google goodies. Solid build and decent looks.
Con: Display is grainy and not super touch responsive. Odd resolution. Sometimes bogs down.
Display:240 x 400 pixel capacitive touch screen. Screen size diagonally: 3". Supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer and keyboard deployment.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
1500 mAh. Claimed talk time: up to 6.4 hours.
Performance:800 MHz Samsung S3CC6410 CPU (ARM6 family) with Qualcomm QSC6075 processor. 256 MB built-in RAM. 512 megs internal flash storage.
Size:4.4 x 2.2 x 0.6 inches. Weight: 4.9 ounces.
Phone:Dual band digital CDMA 800/1900MHz with 3G EV-DO Rev. O.
Camera:3.2MP with autofocus lens (no flash).
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Google voice command included.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth with A2DP stereo.
Software:Android OS 2.1 Eclair. Has the full suite of Google software such as Google Maps, Gmail, Google Talk, YouTube and Google Voice Search. Sprint software: Sprint TV, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, Sprint Football Live, Visual Voicemail and Sprint Zone. ThinkFree Office (MS Office file viewer) and MyFiles file manager are pre-installed.
SDHC microSD card slot. A 2 gig card is included.