Samsung Intercept finally caught my attention

This post is a bit late. OK, very late. I’ve had the Samsung Intercept in my possession for roughly seven weeks, and I haven’t written a single word on the device since my unboxing and hands-on, posted July 12th. A few of you have asked me if I was going to write a proper review – not a lot, but a few – and I haven’t offered up a very good excuse for my procrastination. So here it is, my justification for limiting my delayed reaction to what amounts to an explanation of my general impressions: the Intercept just isn’t that fun to use.

I recognize that there are a lot of people out there looking for low-to-mid range devices who don’t care all that much about the speed at which a phone can handle text input via the virtual keyboard or the responsiveness of touch sensitive buttons – people who aren’t Android fiends. This phone might fit the bill for them, but Sprint has a bevy of comparable devices available for $50 or less with a fresh agreement; many of them free. The Intercept will set you back $349 outright, $99 on contract with subsidy. Considering the current state of smart and super phones, that seems like too much to me. And if you’re looking for today’s Android experience, the Intercept is not for you. The $100 difference between the initial investment of say, an HTC EVO is not as great as the difference in performance. Despite being equipped with an 800MHz processor and Android 2.1, this phone feels like last year, and specs aside, it doesn’t even feel like last year’s high end. It’s offers GPS with Google Navigation, but that’s pretty difficult to use on the Intercept’s little screen.

You dan’t want to pay for 4G? Grab a Samsung Vibrant for $50 on contract with T-Mobile. Sure, an Intercept can be had for the same price, but if the phone feels outdated now – and it does, to me – imagine the landscape in 18 months, when the latest batch Androids outperform your old desktop and you’ve still got 6 months of contract left if you want to avoid an ETF. Fuhgettaboutit.

I can appreciate the Intercept as a sort of entry to Android for a certain demographic. But after adjusting to behemoth displays, luxurious bodies, ridiculously nice touch-sensitive glass, and 1GHz processors, dropping back to what is basically the previous generation of Samsung Androids hurts. I feel no nostalgia for a series of phones that amounted to a collective belly flop. And with Samsung’s reinvention of their Android line and the launch of the Galaxy S devices, once again…fuhgettaboutit. I just can’t see reason to use a phone like the Intercept, personally. You want to save $100? Don’t enter into a two-year contract for a phone you’ll hate in six months. Or two. Save yourself the ETF. Or save your contract subsidy for a different phone.

I have to admit that the Intercept’s slide-out QWERTY is quite nice. I am a notoriously critical of hardware keyboards, especially those featuring a grid array of keys as the Intercept does, so that’s a big compliment. Despite a generally snappy feel, I really don’t have much else to say about the phone that I would consider a selling point. The sliding mechanism feels solid…

There are plenty of thorough reviews of Samsung’s Intercept available online. Those looking have already found them. Aside from a critical analysis of the software and number comparison with specs of other phones, it really comes down to personal preference. So, here’s my view: if you want an Android but really need to save cash and/or subsidies aren’t an option, grab a used device to hold you over until your situation changes. I can understand concern over unreasonable recurring monthly fees better than I can appreciate the need to save a negligible amount of cash up front. So if you’re looking for something up-to-date but affordable, perhaps you should be shopping networks as well. You don’t have to pay for 4G to snag today’s Android. If you’re a fan of Samsung, hold out a few more days for the Epic 4G. It turns out that, when it comes to Android, nobody has outclassed the Samsung of yesterday like the Samsung of today.

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