4G

Samsung Epic 4G: Killer keyboard and UI on a powerful Android phone

Jack Wallen says the Samsung Epic 4G lives up to the hype. Find out why he is blown away by the smartphone, as well as where he thinks the device slightly misses the mark.

I recently had the pleasure of kicking the tires on the new Samsung Epic 4G phone, which is available on the Sprint network. I was also looking at the HTC EVO 4G, and I still have my HTC Hero, so I was able compare the Epic 4G with those phones. There's so much buzz about the Epic 4G that I was prepared to be completely blown away or completely disappointed by the smartphone. As it turns out, the Epic 4G definitely lives up to the hype. (Also read Jason Hiner's review, Samsung Epic 4G review: Everything you need to know.)

Specifications

  • Carrier: Sprint
  • OS: Android 2.1 (update 1)
  • Display: 4.0-inch Super AMOLED WVGA (800×480) capacitive touchscreen
  • Keyboard: Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • Processor: 1 Ghz Hummingbird CPU
  • Camera: 5-megapixel front-facing camera (for video calls) with LED flash
  • RAM/ROM: 512 MB RAM, 1 GB ROM
  • Networks: 3G and 4G data connectivity
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi (b/g/n), Mobile Hotspot feature
  • Sensor: GPS (aGPS)
  • Storage: microSD
  • Additional details: Video-out capable, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • TechRepublic photo gallery of Epic 4G and CNET photo gallery of the Epic 4G

Who is the target market?

The Epic 4G is well-suited for any user (business, casual, hard core social media junkie, etc.) who wants a powerful smartphone, an absolutely amazing display, an incredibly friendly interface, and plenty of media.

Standout features

  • Keyboard: If you prefer the slide-out keyboard style for your mobile device, the Epic 4G has one of the best available. With raised, well-spaced keys that any size fingers should be able to use, the Epic 4G's ability to enter data is about as good as you will find. Text junkies will also delight in the size and spacing of the virtual keyboard.
  • Power: If you are like me and you are trying to enjoy the Android experience on a severely underpowered phone (like the HTC Hero), the Epic 4G will give you more power than you can imagine on a mobile device.
  • Display: The size and clarity of the Epic 4G's display is so brilliant that I didn't experience eye strain when I used the device indoors and outdoors.
  • Built-in Exchange and Google support: With Android's built-in Exchange and Google support, you will not miss a beat on your calendar, email, or contacts.
  • Multi-touch support
  • Hot-swap micro-sd card
  • Physical camera button
  • Decent battery life for a smartphone

What's wrong?

  • Home default buttons: My biggest complaint with the Epic 4G is the four Home screen buttons Samsung added to the Android interface. This is an obvious attempt to copy the iPhone, and it doesn't work. Instead of allowing the user to add what they would want, there are four default icons. Samsung should have gone with either the standard Android interface or done something similar to HTC's Sense UI. Although the interface works well, it doesn't feel as much like Android as it should.
  • Hassle to hot swap the SD card: The hot swappable micro SD card truly is hot swappable; however, you must take the back off of the phone to get to it. There is no need to remove the battery, but who wants to remove the back from their phone to hot swap a card?
  • No Outlook support: Like all Android phones, the Epic 4G does not support Outlook. If you want to sync your Epic 4G to your PC's Outlook, you will have to get a third-party application.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

If you're looking for a powerful mobile device that can keep you well connected, and you don't need built-in Outlook support, you cannot beat the Samsung Epic 4G. The Epic 4G fits perfectly in your hand, has a brilliant display, has a fantastic keyboard, and has one of the most responsive multi-touch UIs of any Android device.

User rating

If you have tried the Epic 4G, please answer these poll questions.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

5 comments
Alz Paul
Alz Paul

The Epic can connect to "Exchange" accounts, but appears not to use Active Sync to accomplish this like the iPhone, HTC Evo, T-Mobile Touch, etc. As a result, you cannot move emails from your inbox to folders in Exchange and turn on the "out-of-office". When you click on the Epic Email Settings > Advance Settings > Out-of-office settings, it says "Feature not supported" even though you have the button for it!

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

But who is looking into setting up multiple-CPU desktop machines using these tiny mobile device CPUs? I want one. I'd settle for an octet I guess... for starters at least. :D

W.E.
W.E.

The HTC incredible (Android) does synk with Outlook from your PC. The third party app is free from HTC.

susan.davis
susan.davis

GThe Epic does have support for OWA, Outlook web access, right out of the box. I have no problem synching with my corporate email, calendar and user address book without downloading any apps. The features are not as robust as Windows Mobile access to the global address book in contacts , emptying the deleted items folder, and out of office rule management are either not supported or I have not figured it out yet. I love this phone and have no complaints. The screen is magnificent, performance excellent, and 4G is lightening fast. On a personal note, I have had trouble adjusting to the call features - miss having a button to answer calls or send the to voice mail and a one touch method for switching to silent mode - although I think there is an android app available for that silent mode bit.

Andy M
Andy M

The Epic 4G actually has 2 cameras, one rear-facing and one front-facing. The *rear-facing* camera is 5 megapixels, while the front-facing camera is only VGA (640x480).

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