Samsung Epic 4G Review: The Fastest Android Phoneby Anand Lal Shimpi on September 6, 2010 5:28 PM EST
“Wait, this is Swype?”
I read about Swype in Brian’s Droid X review, but Motorola shipped the keyboard disabled by default so I figured it’d be one of those things with a steep enough learning curve to dissuade the impatient. When I first started using the keyboard on the Epic 4G I fell in love. It was by far my favorite Android keyboard. It wasn’t until I finished typing a word and noticed a little info button blinking in the lower left corner of the keyboard that I realized I was using Swype.
Samsung ships the Epic 4G with Swype installed and enabled by default, and I totally get why. The keyboard layout is simply perfect for Android. You get a very simple keyboard with a layout that makes sense, I have absolutely no complaints about it. The keys are both big and well spaced enough on the 4” touchscreen to make typing quickly a non-issue. There’s no And if you want an alternate input form that requires fewer taps, there’s always Swype input.
The virtual keyboard rocks but what Swype lets you do is input characters an alternative way: by tracing a line over the letters of the word you’re trying to type. For example, if I wanted to Swype out the world “them” I’d place my finger over the letter ‘t’ on the keyboard, then draw a line down to h, diagonally up to e, and back down and to the right over to m. When I lift my finger there’d be a slight pause, and Swype would insert the word “them”. There are tricks to do more complicated things: make a little circle around a letter you need to enter twice, or extend a line up above the keyboard to create a capital letter. If Swype is unsure of what you’re typing it’ll give you a list of options to choose from, and manually typing in words adds them to the dictionary.
I personally prefer the traditional typing method of text input but I can see how, with practice, you could be just as fast with Swype.
While Swyping you have to pay more attention to spelling. The iOS style of text input is pretty much tap and forget, if you misspell or mistype something the OS autocorrects. But with Swype, you actually need to know how to spell the words you’re trying to type and know where all of the keys are on the keyboard. I didn’t feel my mental CPU utilization hit 100% as Brian described in his first encounter, but I felt like I was in a constant spelling/key location bee. It just takes some getting used to but I actually liked Swyping when I didn’t feel like typing with two hands.
The downside to using Swype as a normal virtual keyboard is the optional autocorrection (you have to enable it under Swype settings). Instead of getting suggestions inline, you get a distracting popup. Thankfully you can easily switch back to the default Android keyboard just by holding down on any text input box and changing the input method.
The physical keyboard is a nice addition, I definitely appreciate it being there although most of the time I used the virtual keyboard. I’d probably prefer the other Galaxy S variants that lack the physical keyboard, but if you need tactile feedback the Epic 4G’s hybrid model works.