Sprint, Samsung announce 'Instinct' to rival iPhone

Due in June, the device has similarities to the iPhone, and 'blazing speed'

LAS VEGAS -- Sprint Nextel Corp. announced the Samsung Instinct, a new wireless GPS-capable smart phone with a touch screen that will undoubtedly draw comparisons to the Apple iPhone.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse introduced the device in a keynote at CTIA Wireless 2008 here, noting that it delivers "data at blazing speeds" over Sprint's EV-DO Rev A data network, an obvious comparison to the somewhat slower speeds in AT&T Inc.'s EDGE network, which supports the iPhone.

Pricing has not been announced, but Sprint expects to offer the phone exclusively in June, company officials said. With EV-DO Rev. A, Sprint said, peak download data rates can reach 3.1Mbit/sec. and peak upload data rates can reach 1.8Mbit/sec. On average, download speeds will be 600Kbit/sec to 1.4Mbit/sec., and average uplink speeds will be 350Kbit/sec. to 500Kbit/sec.

The Instinct is 2.17 by 4.57 by 0.49 in., and it weighs 4.4 oz. The display is 3.1 in., with 240 x 432 pixels.

One notable feature of the device's touch screen is a haptic feedback capability, where a user feels a slight buzz when a touch is made to an on-screen keypad. During demonstrations, Sprint and Samsung employees said the haptic feedback, also called vibe tones, means that people can use the device while wearing winter gloves, which isn't possible with the iPhone.

Sprint and Samsung employees were loathe to compare the Instinct to the iPhone, but analysts said it clearly resembles the device, down to the black screen. While slightly smaller, the Instinct has a "coolness" factor on par with that of the iPhone, said Jeffrey Kagan, an independent analyst.

"Clearly, iPhone started a revolution, and this Instinct looks like it is just as useful," Kagan said, although he noted that he wanted to take more time to examine the device. "Everybody knows a phone has to look cool, and this one does."

Samsung's Instinct smart phone with Sprint service is being compared with the iPhone.

Kagan said his experience with the iPhone led him to argue for greater simplicity in browsing, and he noted that the Instinct uses voice technology for searches. In one demonstration, a user searched for fast-food restaurants in Las Vegas with a combination of voice and touch commands. Sprint officials said that "Instinct" was chosen as the device's name because browsing functions, including those through voice commands, are more instinctual than other devices on the market.

Another novel feature is the ability of the Instinct's 2-megapixel camera to help in Web site navigation. By holding down the camera button and looking at a Web page, a user can tilt and pan the Web page.

POP3 e-mail is supported, as well as Bluetooth. A 2GB microSD card will ship with it, providing room for 2,000 songs from the Sprint Music Store.

Two standard 1,000 mAmp batteries will provide up to 5.75 hours of talk time. The Instinct runs an operating system based on Java and BREW, Sprint officials said.

During his keynote, Hesse said Sprint is committed to Xohm WiMax, but gave no other insights about attracting investors from the cable industry.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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