The Epic 4G is the third (forth if you count the original GSM counterpart) installment of the Samsung Galaxy S series of devices here in the US. Samsung’s Galaxy S series of devices are a really big deal for the company. They represent the best engineering the company can muster both in terms of hardware and software for a smartphone device. T-Mobile and AT&T were the first two carriers to announce their versions of the device into the States, with Sprint and Verizon following not too far after. Samsung is trying to gain global market share with their (Android) devices and by releasing this plethora of galaxy devices to almost all major markets around the world, this shouldn’t be too hard for them to do. Does this certain galaxy device live up to its name? Find out after the jump.
Right out of the box, the phone feels extremely light and this is with the battery not inserted. With the battery inserted, you notice a tad bit of a difference. Besides that this phone is just beautiful in every way. The first thing you notice is that beautiful 4” screen and everything else follows. From the sleek and rounded edges, all the way to the matte black battery cover with little glitter on it. The phone doesn’t scream business, but it screams another profile, media. This phone, which most of you already know from the entire lineup, is just the same as the other Galaxy series devices hence the QWERTY keyboard that Sprint decided to add. Full specs and highlights are as follows:
- 3G/4G capability
- Samsung 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird Application Processor
- 4-inch Super AMOLED capacitive display with pinch-to-zoom
- Google full HTML browser – bandwidth and quality that rival that of netbooks
- Android 2.1, with access to more than 50,000 apps on Android Market
- Simultaneous voice and data capability in 4G and Wi-Fi coverage areas, enabling Web surfing and more while talking
- Google mobile services, including Google Search, Google Maps, Google Talk, Gmail, YouTube , and Google Calendar sync
- Visual Voicemail
- Messaging – personal and business email and text messaging, as well as IM through a downloadable Android Market app
- 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability – connects up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices
- 4G data speeds (WiMAX) – peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps; average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps
- 3G data speeds (EVDO Rev A.) – peak download speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1.8 Mbps; average download speeds of 600 kbps-1.4 Mbps
- Dual camera: 5 MP camera/camcorder with autofocus, power LED flash and 4x digital zoom for photos and HD video (720p) recording for capture and playback on an HD television, as well as a front facing VGA camera for video chat and more
- Qik video application for video chat service and live video sharing
- High-quality video streaming and downloads at 3G and 4G data speeds
- Samsung’s exclusive AllShare service to wirelessly share stored music, pictures and HD video to other DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) certified home electronics, including HDTVs, monitors, digital cameras, printers and more
- Samsung Social Hub integrates all of the user’s social networking services, messages, personal and business email, calendars and contacts, and can display calendar information from portal calendars, such as Google Calendar, and social networking services together in one view with two-way synchronization
- Future access to the Samsung Media Hub, a full library of video and literary content powered by some of the biggest names in entertainment
- Media player with 3.5mm stereo headset jack
- Sprint applications, including Sprint Football Live, Sprint Navigation, Sprint TV, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile
- Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
- Built-in WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
- Digital compass, six-axis motion sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, GPS
- Expandable memory: 16 GB microSD card included; supports up to 32 GB
From the specs alone you could tell this phone is just a monster in its own way. The Epic 4G is one of the better built Galaxy devices in the lineup. Although it is mostly made up from recycled plastics, it feels extremely solid in your hands. The weight from the keyboard makes all the difference. On the outside of the phone you have the phone’s screen and the four usual Android buttons right under it. Each button on the front of the phone are capacitive just like the screen. It works the same just as the ones on the Nexus One, Motorola DROID, and EVO 4G. Tapping the buttons were very responsive and never gave me a hick-up or an opportunity to press it another time. On the right side of the device you have the power button on the top right and the camera shutter button on the bottom. The Epic 4G is the only one out of the whole Galaxy series with an actual physical camera shutter button, so for those who don’t like tapping their screen to snap a photo or two should feel right at home pressing this one. On the left you have the up/down volume keys by itself. The top of the device you have both the 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB port that is sealed behind a “door” to prevent from dust and debris from going inside corroding the port. Now turn the phone about 90 degrees counter-clockwise and you have that marvelous5-row QWERTY keyboard (more on the keyboard later). Now saving the best for last, the screen on the Epic 4G is describable in one word, BREATHTAKING! The Super AMOLED screen provides deep, deep blacks and extremely bright whites. It puts up a fierce competition to the Retina Display in the iPhone 4’s screen and it really is a tough match for the both of them to come out on top of. Watching movies or video clips are just amazing on this screen. This screen blows my Acer 24 inch full HD monitor to shame when it comes to HD output and color. The screen is just that pretty.
There are two options here for typing on the keyboard; on-screen and physical. The 4G’s keyboard is one of the best keyboards I’ve ever used in my phone lifetime. Its 5-row design is one of the best in the game. The only keyboard that’ll come close to this one is the one on the Touch Pro 2. The keys are evenly spaced and the best thing about the keyboard are the number keys on the top. There is no dual pressing of the function keys and a letter to type out a number. Typing on this will take a little getting used to depending on how much you will use the keyboard as for I felt a little uncomfortable using this the first couple of days. I’m so used to typing on an on-screen QWERTY that I forgot what how to place my hands when typing on a device like this. This keyboard is definitely comfortable though and a pleasure using at the same time. Physical keyboard fans should have no problems adjusting to this keyboard at all. For those of you want to type via the on-screen keyboard, there’s two options: Swype and the stock Android keyboard. Swype is the new in thing for “typing” faster on your screen. The stock Android keyboard did just as well than any other version of this keyboard thanks to the multitouch input and there was no need to actually download an extra keyboard from the Market. So, two options, pick one, your choice, happy typing!
Boy oh boy is this a beauty! Samsung really outdid themselves on this one. The Epic 4G is equipped with a 4 inch Super AMOLED screen that makes viewing videos an absolute pleasure. The reason behind the Super AMOLED technology is to have a device whose screen is bright and vivid as this one viewable in direct sunlight. Now although Samsung claims this in their official statement, this is almost entirely not true. With the screen settings put all the way to 100%, there was visibility, but not as they claim. It still doesn’t beat the legibility of the prior iPhones which used IPS based capacitive touch screens for better legibility in direct sunlight. With the device indoors, I had to turn the screen’s brightness down to 0%, it was just too bright. Watching videos on this screen is just a pure joy. The whites were very, very white with no discoloration to them. The blacks were extremely nice and deep. Come on, it’s Samsung we’re talking about here. They’re giving us quality HD viewing on a mobile device just as they would on a 50 inch television. The picture is THAT good.
The camera on the Epic is the standard for smartphones nowadays, 5MP with autofocus. The Epic was the only Galaxy device with a LED flash but the Verizon Fascinate became the second shortly after. I don’t understand why the CDMA versions were given the added flash and their GSM cousins were left out of the frame, but it only helps out a tad bit more. For those who have the Captivate and Vibrant, feel free to use the night time mode and compare the photos if you can to see which has the better quality. Image quality of the photos were excellent and the colors weren’t over-saturated at all. Although the sensor is only 5MP, the camera performed better than the 8MP of the Droid X. Sometimes it’s not always about the megapixels, but the actual lens you put into the device and the Galaxy series is a solid example of this hypothesis (iPhone 4 too).
The Epic 4G performed superior the entire time I was testing the device. Cellular reception proved to be between exceptional and great the entire time with bars never dropping below 3. The average signal displayed as -82db and for those who aren’t aware of that meaning here’s a quick lesson: the lower the number the better. -82 might look high, but the numbers go to as high as -115db and that’s bad. There was no 4G coverage in my location so I didn’t get to test out its speeds. The 1GHz Hummingbird processor did exactly what it was supposed to do, fly. I didn’t encounter any hiccups with the Epic at all and that was more than good enough for me. The average time the phone buckled down for a recharge would be at around 11 PM, so the power user need no fear about battery life about this phone. Switching between apps was a cinch and that’s due to the 512MB of RAM that the Epic is equipped with. I never received a dropped call and even where there was extremely fringe service, it managed to pull reception and hold on to calls when it needed to.
With Sprint’s 4G network opening to more markets and more customers are purchasing the two 4G devices available right now, I don’t see why people wouldn’t purchase this device. This is an all-around champion here. Screen, physical keyboard and features all packed into this one phone. Android is stepping their game up dramatically and people are noticing. Unfortunately, some people may think this phone is too bulky for them due to the fact almost every device is Nicole Richie thin and pocketable, but don’t let the size be the final factor in purchasing a phone. Me personally, I used to love physical keyboards and now that I’ve been spoiled to the world of the iPhone, I don’t need one. This device though is extremely comfortable typing on though, both on and off screen. If I was still a Windows Phone type guy who was still in love with my HTC Titan (MDA 2, Cingular 8525, Mogul, VX6800) and it’s keyboard, this phone would be an absolute no brainer. The keyboard is really that good. Besides that, don’t let my judgment of keyboards prevent you from purchasing this device, it’s in my top five phones ever used, 100% honest. With all the data being used from cell phones now and social networking being a complete gold mine, why not have a phone that’ll do everything you wish you could do with your current handset? I know I would.
S/N: I didn’t get to use the video calling feature because most people I know don’t have the EVO 4G or Epic, but the iPhone 4. Once the device was sent back, the app Tango came out for video chat via wi-fi or 3G to an Android device or iP4. If you do have any one of these devices try a video call with that application and let us know how it went, your thoughts about it and if you think video calling is here to stay.