Almost a year after the release of the Samsung Moment, Samsung is finally adding more Android phones to the Sprint lineup. Though most data-hungry professionals might want to wait for the Samsung Epic 4G (which is also one of Samsung's Galaxy S series of handsets), the Samsung Intercept is geared more toward the budget-conscious consumer. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of the Epic 4G--it doesn't have an AMOLED display and only has EV-DO Rev. 0, for example--but it still packs in plenty of features for Android lovers. The Intercept is available for just $99.99 with a new two-year contract and a mail-in rebate.
Samsung has a tendency to stick with similar designs for most of its phones, and that is true with the Intercept. Indeed, if you didn't pay close attention to the details, the Intercept looks similar to the Samsung Acclaim, and also to the aforementioned Samsung Moment. It measures 4.43 inches long by 2.19 inches wide by 0.59 inch thick, and it has rounded corners, smooth chrome-plated sides, and a soft touch material on the battery cover that gives it a comfortable feel in the hand. We like the design well enough, but its similarity to other phones does give us an unfavorable sense of déjà vu.
It's not AMOLED or anything special, but the Intercept's 3.2-inch WQVGA display is still pleasing to the eye and is bright and colorful overall. The text does seem a tiny bit fuzzy, but that's a minor quibble. It has a smooth and responsive capacitive display, and thanks to Android 2.1, it supports pinch-to-zoom as well. The latter comes especially handy when using the Web browser. The accelerometer kicks in only in certain applications, like the browser and the photo gallery.
Underneath the display are the usual Android sensor hot keys laid out in a row. They correspond to the pop-up menu, home, the back key, and search. If you hold down the home button, a task manager will appear showing recently opened applications. This lets you multitask quite easily. However, we found that the Intercept often suffered quite a bit of lag when opening and closing the task manager. It didn't happen all the time, but when it did, it was annoying.
Like the Acclaim, the Intercept also has a square select button that doubles as an optical trackpad. This works as an alternative to the touch screen, especially if you'd rather use just one hand to navigate the phone. To the left and right of it are the Send and End/Power keys. The volume rocker and microSD card slot are on the left spine, plus there's a charger jack on top. On the right side are the 3.5mm headset jack and camera key. The camera lens and self-portrait mirror are on the back.
Slide the phone's display to the right, and you'll find full four-row QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is great--it's roomy with keys that are well-spaced apart, and we like that they're sufficiently raised above the surface for quick and easy typing. The arrow keys are highlighted in gray. If you'd rather not use the physical keyboard, you also have the option of the virtual QWERTY keyboard in both landscape and portrait modes.
The Samsung Intercept comes with Android 2.1 right out of the gate, which is great news if you want a modern Android OS smartphone. You get voice-to-text capabilities, Google Maps Navigation, and the option for live wallpapers. We've always questioned if the Samsung TouchWiz interface fit well within Android, and thankfully the Intercept just has the standard Android UI.