Samsung Instinct M800 Review

I’ve had a really old and really crappy cell phone for just under three years now. Actually, that phone is less than 2 years old as I remember trading in the one before it on warranty to upgrade to the slightly less crappy thing I used until yesterday. Argh – that thing caused grief, shutting down on me, dropping calls, not even getting reception. Until yesterday. Yesterday, I got a Samsung Instinct, the M800. Here are my first impressions.

Size – The phone is physically longer and wider than my previous beast, though slimmer. This was the only thing I didn’t really like about it when I was looking at it in the store. If you compare it to many of the other phones on the market, it really is larger. However, it isn’t that heavy, and I figured I could get used to it. The screen is after all one of the largest around. That has to be worth something.

Screen – The whole point of this phone is the screen, and in my opinion, the Instinct really delivers. The screen is vibrant and clear, and very responsive. I’ve actually been very impressed by the responsiveness of Samsung’s touch screen. The Instinct uses haptic feedback, which means that the phone moves just slightly when you select a key, so it feels like you’ve pressed a button. It actually really helps the experience, and others I’ve let use the phone have been surprised at this feature.

Ease of Use – With a name like “Instinct” this phone had better be easy to use. Turns out, I’ve found it remarkably intuitive to navigate around in. Within minutes I had figured out the basic navigation structure, and so far I haven’t had to look at the manual once, yet I’ve been able to figure out everything I wanted to. It should be noted that I’m not exactly an experienced cell phone user. When in typing mode, you can use the onscreen keyboard in a number of ways. My favorite is to hold the phone sideways and use it in QWERTY format. Typing with my thumbs I can actually punch things out in pretty short order. I’ve found it very accurate; spelling mistakes are the exception and not the rule.

To give you an idea, I just timed myself for one minute and typed away blathering about nothing. Anyways, I was able to type 27 words with two spelling mistakes in that one minute. There is a built in spell checker as well. Words come up in red and underlined if they are deemed to be spelling mistakes. After a period, the keyboard automatically capitalizes, then reverts again, which is a nice feature.

I would say that on average menu use, 19 out of 20 screen touches are accurate, which is pretty good. I’ll probably get more used to the phone as well, as time goes on. There was only one instance, when I was entering all my contacts, when the “Done” button seemed sticky a few times in a row, and I had to hit it a few times to register. Probably an anomaly.


Dialing – Dialing with the Samsung Instinct is a real pleasure. As minor a feature as this is on a complicated little machine, it is after all the heart of every phone. The keypad comes up very large and very clear, and I can dial on that thing so fast it astounds me. It is easier to use than my home phone, or many office phones I have used. The keypad is exceptionally responsive and with such large numbers you can just fly along on it. I’ve shown several other people how well this works and they were all very impressed. Compared with the majority of phones out these days, this is simply one of the largest keypads you’re going to find. This feature alone would make this phone ideal for the “older” audience, people whose eyesight sometimes troubles them. The keypad is so large you won’t need reading glasses to see it at all.

Contacts – Scrolling through the contacts page is pretty easy. You can flick your finger and the list will scroll through and keep momentum after you stop. So you can give it one flick and watch it go through a good portion of your contacts. The info available is pretty standard, name, phone numbers, email addresses, URL, notes, address. I’d like to see more grouping options available. Of course you get to choose if the number is a mobile or home, etc, but I’d like to see additional groupings, like friends, family, work, business, food etc. I’d like to turn on the phone and immediately bring up my favorite restaurants in one list to see whether I wanted to get sushi or pizza, or something else.

Call Clarity – I actually haven’t spent much time talking on the Instinct so I can’t really speak to the clarity of it, but what I’ve experienced so far is fairly average I guess.

Reception – As I mentioned previously, my old phone was no firecracker, so any upgrade in the reception department is enough to please me. I routinely dropped calls in most rooms in my house, so the first thing I did with this one was get on the phone and walk through the house. It didn’t drop the call, so I figured I got an upgrade. That said, I couldn’t tell you how it relates to the rest of the market.

Browsing – The web browser is pretty good. It took me a minute to figure out how to enter in the address you want, and how to change my homepage, but like I mentioned earlier, the Instinct is fairly intuitive, and I was able to figure it out with minimal effort. Compared to most mobile phones, I think the Instinct’s biggest advantage is its huge screen size. You can view pages in either mobile mode, or as they appear normally. I haven’t tried mobile mode yet as so far I’ve been able to get around in normal okay. Pages load fairly quickly. Clicking on links requires a bit of precision fingerwork, as often on the page you’ll see many links right beside each other. For this a stylus (or something else – yesterday at my friend’s place I used the plastic end of a shoelace because I didn’t have a pencil around) would be handy. There is a stylus included in the kit, but there is no way to store it in the phone, which is a little disappointing. Still, if you’re careful you can get by pretty well. Alternatively, you can quickly magnify the screen as well, which would make clicking a lot easier. Scrolling also works fairly well. I like touching the screen and just sliding it around; however the only downside here is you have to be careful you don’t click on a link inadvertently.

Games – I’ve been a sucker for Bejewelled for a few years, so the first thing I downloaded was that game. It looks great on the Instinct’s screen, and it plays quite well too. To make gameplay easier though you really want to have something to use as a stylus.

Facebook – Yes, the Instinct has a fun little Facebook button, so you can login to your account with one click. It works pretty good, and I can see how this could really ramp up the addiction factor.

YouTube – The M800 also has a YouTube button, bringing you right to Navigation is pretty quick. It takes a few seconds for the videos to load, and they’re not often incredible quality, but you can make them use nearly all of the screen, which is cool. Sound quality is also pretty good.

Media Player – My experience with the media player so far has been somewhat limited, but from what I’ve seen it’s nothing to write home about. It gets the job done, but isn’t mind-shatteringly innovative or anything.

Data Features – The ability to get news headlines, local weather, movie listings etc is nice, but I`m sure it is common to many phones on the market today. Like I said, I`m no expert.

GPS Navigation – I should at least mention that the Samsung Instinct has GPS Navigation, though I`m at this point unwilling to pay the $8 a month to enable it. I`ve got a handheld GPS which works well enough. The cool thing though is that you can enable it for one day, if you want to.

Conclusions – Overall I`m very pleased with the phone so far. Ease of use, clarity of the screen, and responsiveness of the touch interface are all way up there on my happy list. The only negative comments I have at this point are that the power button is the same as the lock button, so a few times when going to lock the phone I`ve inadvertently powered it off, which is a nuisance. The other thing is from what I can tell the built in calendar and scheduling feature could be more robust. I`ll have to keep my eyes peeled though, perhaps I can download a third party app that will help boost this capability.

As a final word, I would probably say that if you`re considering it, just take the plunge. You`ll be happy you did.

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14 Responses to Samsung Instinct M800 Review
  1. Jacquelyn
    August 11, 2008 | 10:27 am

    Hey there – great review of the INSTINCT! Thanks for posting on the blog, we really appreciate the feedback.

    PS: I loved your post so much, I shared it!

    Jacquelyns last blog post..More Hiring at Espresso!

  2. Laurie
    August 12, 2008 | 6:09 am

    I just got my Instinct last week and I love it too (like you I had a not great phone before, so it certainly makes the comparison easier!)

    I only don’t like that it sometimes freezes in the web browser, especially when I try to click links while in Twitter. I’m happy otherwise though!

    Lauries last blog post..Why I’m A Virtual Legal Assistant

  3. Jonathan
    August 12, 2008 | 6:41 pm

    Thanks for the comments!

    One thing I’d like to add – I know everyone is going to be looking at the Instinct as it compares to the iPhone. The comparisons are inevitable. However, for me at least, the choice was more of a network choice than a hardware choice. Although I’m sure the Instinct isn’t as good as the iPhone, it is still a very good phone and probably much more user friendly than most you’ll find on the market!

  4. Jesse
    August 13, 2008 | 5:36 pm

    hey ive just been using an internet bookmark for facebook cuz i could only find the myspace button on there, where do i find the facebook one because i really would like that :)

  5. Jonathan
    August 13, 2008 | 5:42 pm

    Hmm.. mine came with a Facebook button right beside the YouTube button, on the Web menu… you might be able to add it though. I haven’t really experimented with adding new stuff…

  6. Jesse
    August 14, 2008 | 8:57 pm

    yeah i don’t even have the youtube button on my web menu, ive been checking for updates and stuff, but i dont see one yet. when did you get your instinct? i got mine like right off the blocks

  7. Jonathan
    August 15, 2008 | 6:49 am

    Interesting.. are you in the US? I wonder if the carrier (I’m on Bell in Canada) modifies the menus… I got mine the day after it released in Canada…

  8. Jesse
    August 18, 2008 | 7:47 am

    yep, im in the US, i’ve just been checking for updates consistently and hopin they get one…cuz i dont use myspace but they gave me a button for that :/

  9. Cory
    August 29, 2008 | 8:03 pm

    Great review, I was wondering about Bell’s service so far. Everyone buying Instincts’ from telus have been complaining about the lack of everything from no (working) youtube, to the bare minimum being included in the box with the phone. What does Bell include along with the instinct?

  10. James
    August 29, 2008 | 8:47 pm

    Hey what did ur Samsung Instinct M800 come with inside the box?

    and great review

  11. Jonathan
    August 29, 2008 | 10:18 pm

    Hi guys,

    So far the service has been fine… I didn’t get their plan that they push with the Instinct because I had a killer plan of my own that I was able to roll over. I think you can get unlimited data and all that stuff for about $10 a month though… not sure but I think email and GPS and all that fun stuff costs another 15. Could be wrong though. I’ve got unlimited browsing, voicemail, call display and a few other things for $30 a month and I can’t complain. I don’t really need GPS or email anyways. I can login to my account thru the browser!

    What came in the box? Hmm. There was a stylus. I think that’s a shortcoming of the phone, that there is no place to store the stylus actually in the phone. Who wants to carry one around with them? Plus they are quite handy especially when playing games like Bejewelled! There were some headphones, the power adapter, the manual, and a gimmick where I get 2000 songs for free, for a month, if I signed up with their audio service. I tossed that one.

    I think that was pretty much it.


  12. James
    August 30, 2008 | 9:05 am

    Oh i read that it came with 2 batteries and a phone case.

    thanks for the reply.

  13. Jonathan
    August 30, 2008 | 9:08 am

    Hi James, unfortunately mine didn’t come with a spare battery (and the battery life is a little weak, actually), and I’m going to have to pick up a phone case as well. That nice screen is just asking for it if you carry it in your pocket all day long.

  14. jose
    September 21, 2008 | 2:11 pm