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

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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.

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