Samsung Epic 4G Review
Alright, so first has been done, now what? Meet the Samsung Epic 4G, the second WiMAX device in Sprint’s portfolio. It does what the EVO 4G doesn’t, most notably giving the user a hardware keyboard. But surely there is more to a device that demands a $50 premium over what we called the best phone on the market. Indeed there is. There is a positively stunning 4” Super AMOLED display, for starters. It’s not unique to the Epic and the entire Galaxy S lineup features the same panel, but that doesn’t make it any less gorgeous. There is also a 1GHz Hummingbird processor which lets the Epic 4G positively fly. Other key features include Wi-Fi, dual cameras (5 megapixel rear and VGA front,) six-axis motion sensing and, of course, WiMAX 4G. Included in the box you’ll find:
- AC adapter with USB port
- microUSB data cable
- Stereo 3.5mm headphones
- 16GB microSD memory card
The Samsung Epic 4G is an odd-feeling phone, but once we got used to it we like it. We’ve lauded Samsung for their high quality workmanship in the past, and we’re not saying that the Epic isn’t an example of this, just that it doesn’t necessarily feel like it. The phone feels too light for what it is, almost plasticy. The back door has a nice coat of soft touch paint to it, and the display utilizes top of the line Gorilla Glass, but something just feels off about the Epic 4G.
The build quality is great though, don’t get us wrong. The slide is butter smooth; it offers a good amount of resistance before it gets going, but then the spring assist kicks into place and the work is done for you. There is a very reassuring snap to it, and there is absolutely no play or wiggle in it whatsoever. The battery door employs the peel-off design we’ve not been too crazy about in recent Samsungs, but it fits well and all the seams on the Epic 4G are tight. The top of the phone features the 3.5mm headphone jack and the microUSB port, which has a nifty sliding cover.
The three side buttons (volume rocker to the left, power and camera to the right) are easy to find by feel alone and offer good travel when pressed.
Perhaps it’s just because we’ve gotten used to the EVO 4G by now, but the Epic just doesn’t feel gigantic in our hands. It is slightly smaller in length and width, but a bit chubbier thanks to the QWERTY keyboard. Still, those with petite hands will find the Epic 4G to be larger than they’re used to. Like the EVO, the Samsung Epic 4G is best held in landscape orientation and thanks to the QWERTY the user will be holding it that way more than an EVO user naturally would be.
You can compare the Samsung Epic 4G with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
Of course what is going to draw most users to the Epic 4G is the physical keyboard and the Super AMOLED display. The display is awesome, the keyboard could use some small tweaks but is better than most. Let’s start with the display; the big, beautiful display. We’ve seen the same panel on the Vibrant and Captivate by now, but it's still just as beautiful as ever. At 4” the WVGA display bursts with 16 million rich colors, including stunningly deep blacks. It’s not perfectly readable in direct, bright sunlight but it’s not unreadable either. Often times companies use fancy names to talk up unworthy technology, but the Super qualifier is definitely apt in this case. It is simply stunning for enjoying multimedia. On the other hand, reading small text might prove to be a problem, as it appears a bit dotted.
Along the bottom of the display are the four touch-sensitive action buttons; in order from left to right they are Menu, Home, Back and Search. Unfortunately, the keys disappear when they go dark, which they do by default after a few seconds. Luckily they follow the keyboard backlight setting so if you have it mirror your display this becomes less of an issue.
The keypad is large, the keys are well spaced and they have almost the perfect amount of travel. That said, we’ve yet to type with any real speed because of the feel. The keys aren’t quite slippery, but they would benefit greatly from a touch of gumminess. In part because of the lack of feel and in part because of the sheer size we couldn’t quite let go and just type, we always had to think about it more than we would have liked. We were incredibly accurate though, and we have a feeling that with more time with the phone it would grow on us. It’s not quite Touch Pro 2 or Bold good, but it’s still one of the better keyboards on the market.
It took a bit of getting used to, but we have come to enjoy the design and feel of the Samsung Epic 4G. There are definitely some tweaks we’d make, but on the whole it is as good as anything else out there right now. We prefer the rounded edges to the hard lines of the DROID and the slightly softer DROID 2. Despite the initial light feeling, it is apparent that the Epic has outstanding build quality.