Tuesday August 31, 2010 10:05 pm
Epic 4G review
The Samsung Epic 4G is the second phone from Sprint to take advantage of their speedier 4G service, the original being the EVO 4G. The Epic 4G is part of Samsung’s Galaxy S line of Android smartphones, although visually it’s a departure from others like the Samsung Captivate, Fascinate, and Vibrant from other carriers. You do still get the TouchWiz 3.0 interface, 1GHz Hummingbird processor, and the 4-inch Super AMOLED display. So what’s different, aside from the phone being able to access Sprint’s 4G network? Well, it’s a Galaxy S phone with a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard. So, is it worth your time—and more importantly—your money? We’ve got our full review for you, so click on through.
The Epic 4G weighs in at 5.56 ounces, and measures 4.90 x 2.54 x 0.56-inches in size. Visually, the phone looks great. It’s all plastic, with a chrome bezel. The battery cover on back is finished with a metallic look, and the 5-megapixel camera has got chrome around it as well.
Up on top you’ve got your 3.5mm audio jack and a sliding door in the center, beneath which is the microUSB port. We actually appreciate that little slider since it protects the actual port from getting dirty or damaged. Over on the left of the device you’ve got your volume rocker and not much else. On the right, you have the power/sleep/wake button along with a dedicated camera button, and the bottom has an microphone.
As previously mentioned, it’s also got a QWERTY slider keyboard. It’s mechanically-assisted, meaning that once you slide it about halfway in either direction, it takes over and goes the rest of the way on its own. Nice and solid.
Rounding out the specs, you’ve got Android 2.1 Eclair with TouchWiz 3.0, 512MB RAM, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 2.1, A-GPS, a 5 megapixel camera with 720p video capture and LED flash, front-facing VGA camera, and a micro-SD card slot to up the amount of storage space, adding up to an additional 32GB.
Just a quick section dedicated to the QWERTY keyboard on the Epic 4G, since that’s a nice differentiating feature in the Galaxy S world for the device. To put it bluntly, this is the first Android QWERTY that we actually didn’t mind using. The keys are all separate and spaced out chiclet-style, which made us happy because it meant a lot less typos when compared to something like the Motorola Droid. That said, we wouldn’t have minded if they did the standard keyboard key placement offset that you find on full-sized keyboards, only because it took a bit of getting used to.
The dedicated number keys were appreciated, as it gets old having to use a function key or go into the symbols area to get to numbers. It’s nice to see that it wasn’t done away with or neglected here, like it was on the Kindle 3. There are also dedicated arrow keys, which is really nice, and not really something you see on smartphones. This makes editing mistakes a snap. Another odd, but fun, button is the dedicated button for emoticons. This is just the world we live in.
The keyboard is also backlit, and you can control how long the backlight stays on after a period of inactivity.
It’s easy to overlook the actual phone part of a smartphone review, since these things do so much nowadays Really, though, I find that the other reason is because the are usually pretty much the same. The Epic 4G phone is what you’d expect. It sounds good when you have a good connection to the cell tower, and degrades from there. The speakerphone is also what you’d expect from a modern and upscale device, nice and loud when turned up. Being an Android device, you can easily integrate Google Voice into the mix, or just go with standard Sprint visual voicemail if you’d prefer.
Gallery: Samsung Epic 4G
Let’s touch on a couple of the other standout features of the Epic 4G for a moment. If you happen to live in a 4G-enabled area, the device becomes even better. You see, you can use 4G data with no cap, and you can use the Epic 4G as a 4G modem, connecting up to five other devices. The negative there is that you’ll be using up that battery, and 4G is power hungry. However, if you’re in a stationary spot like a cafe, just plug your phone in, and you are offering 4G access to five other devices in no time.
The phone also sports a digital compass and proximity sensor, just so that you don’t end up hanging up on people with your face. GPS navigation is also a part of the package, but as far as apps and geotagging of photos, you are gonna need to enable that stuff manually. Seems to be a move from Samsung as it pertains to privacy, and we can’t say that we disagree. We just wish it was a wee bit more obvious that you have to enable that if you want it.
Qik ships as an app on the phone, letting you do video chat and live video sharing right from the phone using the two cameras on the device, and gamers should know that the Epic 4G also has a six-axis motion sensor built in, which is actually a big deal once you see what it can do in the context of gaming.
When looking at Sprint and deciding which phone is their top of the line, we’ve gotta say that this is it. It’s one of their two 4G smartphones, but it costs $50 more than the EVO 4G. While it certainly could have (and in our opinion, should have) been priced right next to the EVO 4G, it’s a newer device and a better device overall. The QWERTY keyboard is an Android keyboard done right after a lot of waiting, and the phone is just fast. It feels like the premium product that Sprint hopes you find it to be.
You can order the Samsung Epic 4G now for $249.99.
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