Samsung Epic 4G: A Super Multimedia Phone [review]

by Emily on September 10, 2010

in Android, Reviews

Samsung Epic 4G

The Samsung Epic 4G is very much unlike its Galaxy S siblings as it has a physical keyboard and a front-facing camera.  This is currently the second phone that runs on Sprint’s 4G network and as of August 20, 2010, it is priced at $250 along with a two-year contract from Sprint.  The question now is how does it stand against other 4G devices such as the HTC EVO 4G and how does it compare against other smartphones in the Android world.

Design

Testing the keyboard element of the Epic against the BlackBerry Torch and the Motorola Droid 2 has proved that the Epic possesses the best keyboard.  Its keys are nicely spaced and they have a good clickiness to them.  However, if you don’t feel like using its physical keyboard, you have the option of using a variety on the touchscreen such as the TouchWiz, the Swype, or the Android keyboard.  The Epic’s display is both responsive and big enough for you to type comfortably.

Similar to other Galaxy S phones, the Epic 4G is equipped with a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, a technology from Samsung, which allows you to place touch sensors on the display itself, as opposed making a separate layer which the old AMOLED displays from Samsung had.  This makes it the thinnest display technology on the market.  The Super AMOLED is simply amazing as it works well even in bright outdoor light, although its glossy hardware can sometimes reflect a nasty glare.  Its colors are lively and vivid, and animations appear very smooth.  There are some that say that the colors seem to look oversaturated, but I personally do not really mind the effect.

Interface

The Samsung Epic 4G runs on Android 2.1 (Éclair) along with Samsung’s own TouchWiz 3.0 user interface.  This latest version of TouchWiz is far better than its previous versions.  Despite being an improvement, there are still familiar issues with the TouchWiz 3.0 such as the slight lag when flipped through menus and scrolling down through web pages or contact lists.  Hopefully, the Epic will get a speed boost when it is upgraded to Android 2.2 (Froyo).

Similar to HTC’s Sense, Samsung is equipped with its own social media hub which combines streams that are coming from your Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter accounts into a single view.  This feature is useful especially if you want a simple way of keeping track of your social media networks.

The biggest problem with the TouchWiz is that most of it is overdone that it no longer looks or feels like an Android phone.  In addition to this, the skin can sometimes interfere with the speed of the Epic.  As per Samsung, the Galaxy S family is upgradable to Android 2.2.

Camera

Testing the camera of the Epic, along with the iPhone 4, the Motorola Droid X, and the HTC EVO 4G, the photo quality of the Epic’s 5-megapixel camera was not at all impressive as it came last among the four.  Although it was better than the EVO 4G’s exposure quality, it still ended up last when tested on color-accuracy, sharpness, and distortion tests.

Outdoor shooting with the Epic turned out to be impressive as the colors and detail looked bright and natural.  There were some slight grains in the shots though which can be seen when looked closely through a monitor.

The video quality of the Epic looked a bit underexposed on bright-light footage.  The video was great at smaller sizes but slightly grainy on full-screen view.  The footage taken in low-light on the other hand was just too murky and undefined.  The Epic will be able to use its flash as a light when capturing video after it gets upgraded to Android 2.2.  This will perhaps solve the issue during low-light situations.

View pictures and video taken with Samsung Epic 4G.

Multimedia

The Epic’s TouchWiz music player is easy to navigate through.  It showcases an album art user interface which is similar to the style of iTunes Cover Flow user interface.  The sound is clean when using the earbuds, and decent when using the external speakers.

The Samsung Media Hub comes with all Galaxy S Phones and is Samsung’s answer to iTunes Store, a place where you can buy music and video.  Sadly, the Samsung Media Hub is not yet available to users, but it will be available to them when it launches this fall.  This service can be downloaded via an over-the-air update.

A big disappointment with the Epic, unlike the EVO 4G, is that it does not ship with YouTube HQ.  The YouTube HQ is a feature that can greatly enhance the quality of certain YouTube videos.  Unfortunately, without this, the videos on YouTube are almost completely unwatchable on the Epic.  Its omission is without doubt a big oversight when you have such an incredible screen.

Samsung Epic 4G with QWERTY keyboard

Performance

The Epic 4G, similar to other Galaxy S phones, is powered by a 1GHz Hummingbird processor.  It is for the most part incredibly fast, although a stall is likely to occur on the user interface when you attempt to browse for more gallery images while you are in the process of sharing your gallery photos online.   The Epic will stutter and freeze in between images, an issue that we were able to replicate.

Among the Galaxy phones tested, the Epic 4G ranks best and it is without doubt one of the best Android phones available.  Its well-designed physical keyboard, coupled with its 4G goodness, simply makes it hard to beat.  It’s a close call to take on whether the Epic is a better choice than HTC’s EVO 4G.  However, the Epic 4G slightly edges out the EVO.

The Epic wins against the EVO as a multimedia device.  Despite having a smaller display than that of the EVO, the display quality of the Epic is better.  It also supports more video codecs than the EVO, such as DivX, H.264, and Xvid formats.  The EVO however wins in the camera department with its image quality.  Input-wise, the Epic wins for having three software keyboards aside from its excellent physical keyboard.

Comments & Leave a Comment

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bharti Digital September 12, 2010 at 09:41

How is this phone compared to HTC desire?

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Emily @ TechPatio September 14, 2010 at 11:14

I haven’t tried the HTC desire yet, so I really can’t say.
Emily @ TechPatio recently posted… Samsung Epic 4G- A Super Multimedia Phone review

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article submissions September 21, 2010 at 07:33

Great phone samsung i use nice post..

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Rob McCance October 4, 2010 at 01:24

Is this basically a Galaxy S with a physical KB?
Rob McCance recently posted… Why this Website is Better

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