The Samsung Intercept comes with Android 2.1, which is excellent since some manufacturers are still releasing phones with earlier, far less feature-rich operating systems. We haven't heard anything official yet, but Virgin Mobile updating the OS to Android 2.2 (Froyo) would make it more powerful still. We're glad that Samsung has kept its TouchWiz interface off this phone.
The Intercept has the usual mix of Android apps and features on deck, like voice-to-text capabilities, Google Maps Navigation with live turn-by-turn directions, and optional live wallpaper. There's also tight integration with Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Places, and YouTube. Instead of the more common Quickoffice viewer, the Intercept has ThinkFree Office, which works much the same way. If you want something other than Gmail for your e-mail, you also get a standard inbox that lets you plug in your POP or IMAP server settings. You can use the same e-mail program for your work e-mail, as long as you have the appropriate Exchange server information. All of your non-Gmail e-mail will be piped into this single unified inbox. You can sync up your work calendar and contacts as well via Exchange.
Preloaded apps is another area where the Intercept differs on the two networks. Virgin Mobile Live streams from the Virgin Music service. There's also a shortcut for managing your personal account online and another shortcut for Virgin store downloads online. Amazon's MP3 music store app, Facebook, and AirG Chat are other preloaded apps.
Of course, we can't overlook the cell phone mainstays such as the calendar, calculator, clocks, and so on. There's also the full complement of threaded texting, multimedia messaging, and chat services, in addition to the range of wireless features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and airplane mode. In addition there's speakerphone, speed dial, and voice commands.
The Intercept comes with Google's standard WebKit browser, which supports Flash Lite and pinch-to-zoom. There are other third-party browsing options in the Android Market. The music player, similar to those on other Android phones, plays back songs downloaded through the Amazon MP3 Store, or loaded on by way of your computer, a Flash USB stick, or a microSD card.
The 3.2-megapixel camera on the Intercept was OK, but nothing worth writing home about. Picture quality seemed sharp enough, but colors looked dull and lacked vibrancy. Though we're not always fans of using an LED flash since it blows out photos, we still would like the option of some kind of flash, especially for low-light situations. The Intercept has none.
We tested the Samsung Intercept (CDMA 800/1900) in San Francisco on Virgin Mobile USA's network. Call quality was quite good overall, and both parties agreed that volume sounded loud and voices sounded clear. One friend used the word "crisp" to describe the voice audio. If we concentrated, we could sporadically hear a layer of white noise during one of our calls, but it didn't obstruct the conversational flow, and our caller didn't hear it. Speakerphone volume was clear with voices sounding true, but our friends noted that volume decreased and our voices sounded distant. Volume was strong on our end, though voices sounded hollow to our ears; this is fairly typical for speakerphone.
Samsung Intercept call quality sample
Virgin Mobile is, thankfully, serving 3G speeds on the faster EV-DO Rev. A, in contrast with the Intercept's slower EV-DO Rev. 0 version when it launched for Sprint.
The Samsung Intercept has a rated battery life of up to 5.5 hours talk time and 14.6 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 3 minutes. According to FCC tests, the T249 has a SAR of 0.51.