Sprint Samsung Instinct S30 - First Impressions

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Friday, 24 April 2009

Sprint's Samsung Instinct S30: Where's the Rev-A??

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The new Instinct S30 is a sequel to the last year's original Instinct, but surprisingly this new version not only doesn't provide much that that the original lacked but actually offers less in some cases!

The main differences between the original and the new S30 are aesthetic - the S30 is sleeker and features a slightly bigger screen:

instinct s30 and original instinct
Left: the stylish new Instinct S30; Right: the boxier original Instinct

Features-wise, the S30 does offer a couple items that the original did not, such as instant messaging, increased social networking functionality, and better syncing (see below for more on that topic). However, where the old Instinct was Rev-A capable, the new S30 is not - you'll only be able to connect to the EVDO Rev-0 network with the S30! This is absolutely astounding to me; the idea of downgrading what is being marketed as an upgraded device simply makes no sense at all. With all of the fun data-heavy features available on the S30, like streaming media and music downloads, not having Rev-A is like a cruel joke! Like the original Instinct, the S30 also does not support tethering/phone-as-modem. Since there is no Rev-A it wouldn't be the best candidate for tethering anyway, but I always like to have the option.

That said, there IS a lot to like about this phone. For starters, it of course has all the basic features you'd expect (calendar, messaging, alarm, etc), but really shines when it comes to media functions. With Sprint TV you can watch live and on-demand TV, and video looked great on the screen. While the lack of Rev-A meant web browsing and streaming wasn't as zippy as it could be, web browsing was still a positive experience. The large screen meant that web pages looked very nice, scrolling was easy, and there's a convenient zoom tool right on the screen. As for music, while it only ships with a 1GB memory card, the S30 supports up to 16GB MicroSD cards and with the surprisingly powerful and high-quality speakers and 3.5mm headphone jack could easily replace your mp3 player. The S30 also supports Sprint Navigation (requries monthly or daily subscription) which provides real-time traffic and turn-by-turn directions.

I was also pleased with the email functionality on the S30. Unlike many non-PDAs, the Instinct S30 allows you to set up your POP3 email accounts (Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, etc) right on the phone - usually, email on non-PDAs can only be accessed via the web browser. Importing my POP3 email was incredibly easy, and even though you do have to manually "refresh" the mailbox to check for new messages it is much more convenient than logging into webmail.

The best part of the S30 is the incredibly easy syncing. NO software is required to sync, meaning it works well with both Mac and PC's (how many times have us Mac-users been out of luck when it comes to syncing?) and transfering files between the phone's memory card and my hard drive could not have been easier. I was able to drag and drop music and photos to and from the phone no differently than I do with a regular USB flash drive. Being able to use the S30 as a portable hard drive with both my Mac AND PC was a pleasant surprise.

What we love:

  • Expandable memory (up to 16GB)
  • Intuitive interface (VERY easy to use, virtually no "adjustment" time needed)
  • Easy to sync and use as storage device
  • Nice touch screen
  • Nice email setup

But we're not as fond of:

  • Cannot be used as a modem
  • No WiFi
  • No EVDO Rev-A

Overall grade: B. The lack of Rev-A and tethering is a big bust and nearly had me giving it a considerably lower grade, but the easy mass storage capabilities boosted the score.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 04 June 2009 )
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