Samsung Instinct S30 review:

Samsung Instinct S30

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Samsung Instinct S30 - copper (Sprint)

(Part #: SPHM810GNS) Released: Apr 19, 2009
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Samsung Instinct S30 offers a slick design, bigger external memory, and an attractive touch-screen interface. Features are respectable and the call quality is satisfactory.

The Bad The Samsung Instinct S30's video quality is erratic and it lacks Wi-Fi and camera editing options. In a disappointing move, Samsung and Sprint downgraded the EV-DO support.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Instinct S30 has its good points, but Samsung and Sprint missed the opportunity to make a better device.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0

Editors' note: The Instinct S30 is similar to the Sprint's first Instinct. For this review, we will be concentrating on the differences only. For a full description of shared features and characteristics, see our original Samsung Instinct SPH-M810 review. On October 1, 2009, we lowered the rating of this product from 8.0 to 7.3 in the wake of the release of the Instinct HD.

Samsung and Sprint typically make a big showing at the spring CTIA show. In 2008, the two companies introduced the Samsung Instinct touch-screen phone, and this year they followed up with the Instinct S30. Though we expected a second Instinct at some point, the S30 is more of a minor redesign than a full-blown revamp of the original model. It's the tinniest bit thinner with smoother angles, but it only adds minimal new features. And even worse, it removes at least two things that we enjoyed on the first model. The Instinct S30 is available for $129 with a contract. That's a fair price, but the Instinct S30 falls short of being both new and improved. It's disappointing considering how we liked the first handset.

The Instinct S30, aka the SPH-M810, has the same basic shape as its predecessor, but a side-by-side comparison will show a more aerodynamic profile and smoother lines and rounded corners. It also has a slight bulge at the bottom end. The S30 is almost the same size (4.57 inches tall by 2.11 inches wide by 0.48 inch thick), but it's just 0.1 inch thinner than the original Instinct and a tad lighter (3.88 ounces). Overall, we like the new look--it's less boxy and the phone has a nicer feeling in the hand. You can get it in two colors--cobalt metal and copper--but the features are the same on both models.

The S30's virtual keyboard is unchanged form the previous Instinct.

The S30's touch screen is just a bit larger than the original handset (3.2 inches versus 3.1 inches). We welcome the change, though you'd barely notice it when using the device. The color resolution is the same (262,000 colors; 432,240-pixels) and the easy-to-use, customizable menus are unchanged. The touch screen felt no different, as well.

Outside on the display you'll find the same exterior controls and an identical virtual dialpad and QWERTY keyboard. The memory card slot is again on the left spine. Samsung kept the proprietary charger jack, but we were glad that the company didn't didn't mess with the 3.5mm headset jack.

The Instinct S30 offers many of the same features as the original Instinct. You'll find stereo Bluetooth, a personal organizer, voice dialing and commands, GPS with Sprint Navigation, support for Sprint's Visual Voicemail, FM radio, PC syncing, messaging, IMAP4 and POP3 e-mail, USB mass storage, 600-contact phonebook, and a full HTML browser. Unfortunately, the 2-megapixel shooter still doesn't offer camera editing features, but photo quality was quite good.

Like its predecessor, the S30 has a self-portrait mirror, but no flash.

New features on the Instinct include an Opera 4.2 browser and more external memory (32GB versus 16GB). You also get instant messaging, calendar, and contacts syncing out of the box. The precious Instinct required an upgrade to add both features. We were hoping for Wi-Fi this time around, but it's not here.

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