UPDATE: This preliminary review was written based on a relatively short time with this smartphone. A much more in-depth review has now been published based on extensive testing:
It seems Sprint has a lot of confidence in the new Samsung Epic 4G. As part of Samsung's Galaxy S series of smartphones, this model is going to be the second handset with WiMAX available from this carrier, with the HTC EVO 4G being the other.
The carrier recently sent out representatives with Epic 4G in hand to preview this smartphone for Brighthand before the August 31 launch date. Read on for my initial impressions.
BUILD & DESIGN
The first thing that jumps out about the Epic 4G is the four-inch Super AMOLED display. It looks amazing. The black levels are incredibly deep and the colors vibrant.
The comparison between the Epic 4G's Super AMOLED and the EVO 4G's LCD is reminiscent of SDTV to HDTV -- Super AMOLED is that good.
Also impressive is the speaker. Cranked up all the way, you could hear the YouTube video from outside the conference room where Sprint's Mark Elliott demoed the device. It's no wonder Sprint and Samsung are marketing the Epic and other Super AMOLED-sporting Galaxy S devices as portable entertainment centers.
Elliott even furthered the pitch by claiming in conversation the Galaxy S is geared toward video and entertainment, while the EVO 4G is great for "everything else."
Another key difference between the EVO 4G and the Epic 4G is that the Epic has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard in addition to a virtual keyboard and Swype technology. The EVO 4G only has an on-screen keyboard.
The Epic's slide-out QWERTY is a chiclet-style keyboard, commonly found on Lenovo, ASUS and Sony netbooks. Chiclet keys resemble the chewing gum of the same name, and are flat with straight edges, resulting in small spaces between the keys. Personally, I prefer the chiclet style as it reduces errant key entries caused by my chubby digits.
The Swype text-entry system is an interesting technology found on handful of Android phones, including some of Verizon's Droid models. As the name implies, users can input text by swiping their finger across the screen, moving from key to key. It doesn't work in real time, so the inputted text only appears once the swiping is complete.
There is a slight learning curve to the technology, especially for those used to pecking away on a virtual keyboard. But I found it to be both novel and useful, quick and accurate too. It won't replace the physical QWERTY as my preferred text input method, but it's a solid option.
Look and Feel
The Epic 4G has a bit more width than its Galaxy S cousins, the Samsung Captivate and Samsung Vibrant -- as well as the HTC EVO 4G -- owing to the slide-out keyboard, but I wouldn't call it thick. It also felt a tad heavier than the EVO, but it is probably only an ounce or two difference, and it's definitely not heavy. It won't cause muscle strain or your pants to sag if carried in a pocket.
I think HTC's offering has better look than the Epic. The EVO is more industrial with a brushed metal back and rectangular form. The Epic is tucked inside a hard plastic shell with rounded edges. The Epic doesn't feel cheap, but the EVO's cool metal feels much better in hand. Also, the EVO has a novel kickstand to secure the device on a flat surface for watching videos. I would think the kickstand feature is better suited for the Epic, which is supposed to knock my "entertainment socks off."
Samsung Epic 4G vs. HTC EVO 4G
Part II covers the Epic 4G's performance and preliminary conclusions.
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